By Annalisa Morris
The safest place for my heart to be is open.
Open to God, open to people, open to what I’m feeling and what my process is.
Vulnerability is the key and vulnerability is a process. The process of realizing things about myself, letting myself change and edit, being ok with where I’m at, even when I’m in the middle. I get to know in the core of my being that I will be ok, even in the hardest parts, by being honest with myself, with God, and with people.
Here’s the thing about me: I really know how to be myself. I am who I am no matter where I go or no matter who I am around. This only came from me learning to be ok even when I wasn’t ok. I had to see that my hard or negative feelings have value and are worth understanding. By being vulnerable with how I felt and what I was going through, then getting acceptance there, I could be secure in being me. And even when I didn’t get the validation or acceptance I wanted from people, I realized I got more than enough grace from God and could give it to myself. When I started to like myself, being vulnerable wasn’t scary. I knew how God and I felt about me, and so I knew I would be ok no matter what.
Vulnerability wasn’t really an option for me at first. I’m not good at hiding what I’m thinking or feeling, even to a fault. I wear my heart on my sleeve and give it so easily to anyone and everyone. Fast forward a couple of years and a couple of hurts later and I shut down. After graduating college, I felt jaded and disappointed with where I was at. I wasn’t where I thought I would be in life (no husband, no career, no superstar ministry) and I had no way to process that, because I was supposed to be joyful, supposed to be happy. As I pushed down the feelings, I taught my heart how to be shut-down. It was too much to feel and let people in, so I swung to the opposite extreme. I isolated myself, I numbed out on Netflix, and went through the motions of life. It was horrible and I had no idea what was really going on with me, because I couldn’t even be honest with myself. God waited around, and let me be where I was at. Soon enough, I realized what was going on and how unlike myself I felt. I let some people in on how I was feeling and discovered how disappointment had stolen joy and softness from my heart. I let God back in, even more confident of the connection I wanted with Him.
Feelings are important. I once heard a speaker say, “Feelings are like children. You can’t shove them in the trunk and you can’t let them drive.” They don’t control you, but you shouldn’t shut them out or completely discount them. God’s not afraid of you and all of you: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let yourself feel what you need to feel and that’s how you get to freedom. Vulnerability can give you a foundation to be fully ok as you are, accepted and loved by God and people. The truth is that you can’t know yourself unless you want to be known. I’ve learned so much about myself by being real in community and only through that have I gotten to see what I need, what I can give, and who I am. Only then I can be my best self and bring out the best in other people.