Monday, December 2, 2013

Vulnerability ~ The Key To Intimacy

Vulnerability is a word that can evoke great emotion in some people, yet in others it is completely missed, or misunderstood.

When I look into my grandson Kenny’s eyes, as I watch him on Saturday evenings, I see complete vulnerability and dependence. All he knows is that at that moment in time Papa is the god of His universe and all he can do is look at me with his big blue eyes and laugh or cry, but is completely dependent.

A little baby was born 2000 years ago in Bethlehem in a complete state of vulnerability. He gave up His place equal to and of the very nature God, and not only took on the nature of man, but did so as a baby. Jesus was completely dependent upon Mary, Joseph, and God and it was through His vulnerability that He becomes forever connected to mankind, and to you and me.

So when you hear the word vulnerability what do you think?  Is it a scary word for you? Is it a word that conjures up bad thoughts or moments of pain? A feeling that you need to protect yourself because no one will be there to defend you if you do not stay strong?

Are you numb to vulnerability because you have been hurt so many times by the things people have said to you in your past?  Or because your parents taught you to be strong, independent, and take care of yourself? Has such strength now become your greatest weakness as you try to connect with others?

I married the most wonderful person in the world some 33 years ago. Intelligent, common sense smarts, great looking, killer figure, fun personality and I knew she would make the greatest mom in the world, which she did. What I did not realize until about seven years into marriage was that Lori had little desire to be either vulnerable or dependent. She had been taught to be strong and in control as most women are today, so she could make her way through life even if she lost a husband to death or divorce.  Other hurts and pains only proved out such thinking. No dependency for this bright girl.

It has taken years to watch the Spirit break down the strongholds that kept Lori from having the marriage and relationship that she always wanted, but did not know how to get. Even after being shown the path to intimacy she would argue, squirm and ignore my advances, preferring instead the protection of being in control.

Finally, one day the walls to her heart began to fall down, and what was the key? I am not completely sure, but it seems that I had to first show her how to be vulnerable. I had to show her what it was like to rest in her complete acceptance, even as I exposed my own weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Slowly, over time, God began a work in both of our lives where we arrived at a safe place that no matter what we would do, no matter who we were inside or out, we had a lover who could love and accept all of who we are, even knowing the bad and the ugly things about us.

For some, vulnerability comes easier than others. Some personalities may be built more trusting and accepting. Some may show a strong exterior, yet crave a moment where they could just melt into their lover’s arms and cry.

A few times I have counseled couples where the fiance, or wife, is a strong, in control women who likes to act out at times, putting her husband on the defensive. Sometimes the acting out gets out of control, demeaning and scolding, making sure to keep her man in his proper place, just arm’s length away in the relationship, yet complaining loudly that there is no real connection or intimacy. I ask the husband “What do you do when she seems so out of control at home?” and he looks back at me bewildered as if to say, “Like what can I do about it?”

What if you quietly walked over to your wife who is seemingly out of control and gave her a big hug, kissed her a few times, then whispered in her ear, “I love you, please stop.’”

The remarkable thing is that the wife usually speaks up and says, "I think I would like that!  I hate it when I feel so out of control with my own feelings and behavior.”

Yes, vulnerability is something most of us want, but it is scary. Anyone who wants a deep connection with God, or any human being, must first learn to be vulnerable. Feminism has robbed far too many marriages of this gift from God where a wife can flow into her husband’s love and protection knowing that no matter what, he will be her Prince Charming riding on a white horse to save her, because he loves her more than anyone else in the whole wide world!

Does your husband love you more than anyone else in the whole wide world? Or is there someone who loves you more than he does and that person keeps him at arms distance away, sacrificing intimacy for self-protection? You guessed it. That someone may be you.

Until a wife is ready to allow her husband to be her man in the very truest sense of the word, he cannot break through to her heart, no matter how hard he may try. Many men ultimately give up, but thank God that many Christian men continue on patiently and prayerfully waiting for the day they know God has promised to them that their wife will trust them enough to be vulnerable.

Vulnerable to their leadership… vulnerable to their likes and dislikes… vulnerable to their advances day or night… vulnerable to try and please them. Call it trust, call it humility, call it submission, but these are the highest of qualities Jesus displayed while here on earth, and yet too many wives are being taught that it is best to be strong and in control so that no one can hurt them.

Oh yes, men, vulnerability goes both ways. We too must be vulnerable to give a quiet answer to a wife who is not feeling well, or in a bad mood. To be vulnerable with our time to walk with her, or take ten minutes when getting home to talk with her and find out how she did with the bustling home and kids that day. Vulnerable to open up and cry in her arms when sorrow or stress at work is overloading us, instead of snapping at her, or blaming her for all that we feel is going wrong.

Is not vulnerability to love with your whole heart even when there is no guarantee that your love will be returned, or even honored? Does it not look like like submission, humility and trust, and much like the things Lori is trying to teach on her blog. Yet vulnerability has no need to wait on one's spouse to reciprocate, for it is the waiting that destroys intimacy.

If we are one with Christ, why not accept His demands to be vulnerably connected. It is a wonderful place to be in any relationship, and a glorious place to be in a marriage.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, 
and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Matthew 23:12