This post was edited for and originally published on WeAreBeautiful.org on August 4, 2018.
Growing up, I was the type of person to totally embrace vulnerability. I had a knack for initiating genuine connections with others by being open and showing a desire to truly know others. In church, my youth pastor would always come to me to make friends with the new girl, or have me introduce her to others. In school, I always approached those who sat alone. And, I made a lot of great friendships this way!
I never wanted anyone to not have someone who knew them and loved them even still. To know that someone wants to make a connection with you, and chooses to sit with you, who wants to know you – this desire for community and relationship is a reflection of what Jesus desires to share with us. And what better way to demonstrate the love that Christ has for us, than to display that same desire to know and to love others?
But building deep friendships is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a lot of trust, a lot of hours spent together, and a lot of vulnerability. Revealing those deeply personal and delicate areas of our life is not an easy thing to do – it takes courage and facing fears of rejection. It’s easy to fear vulnerability, because it reveals that we are messy imperfect beings who don’t have it all together, who make mistakes and stumble often. Even through these fears, I continued to stay vulnerable and transparent with new and old friends…but unfortunately, I didn’t always stay this way.
In college, I began to shy away from being so vulnerable in friendships due to how often I became hurt. I had three different best friends cut ties, three different times, all within a few years. The first wound was the deepest, and I grieved that loss for years. The second time it happened I became more frustrated than upset, thinking I was foolish to put that trust into someone else to be a solid friend. And by the third time it happened…I began to think that I really sucked at making the right friendship choices.
After that point, I began to coat myself in layers, only revealing what I wanted to. I had a lot of acquaintances, but no true “best” friendship. I wanted so badly to be accepted and be known. I wanted to share those intimate parts of my life with someone who would understand and embrace me even harder, who I could be myself around without being judged.
It wasn’t until I moved to a different state after college, and then again just in the last 2.5 years, that I finally found those connections I had always wanted – where I had a solid core group of friends, who all new me and embraced me for me. Who prayed over me, who came over late at night to talk about real and hard things about life, who I knew were the answer to that prayer I had been repeating in my head since high school: “Lord, send me a group of Christian friendships that are long lasting. Please let me find that community. And if I can’t find it, let me create it.” And, I did. It took a long time, and lots of working on my vulnerability, but Jesus answered that prayer in more ways than one.
And it was because we shared the same desires – to find friends who were open books, longed for vulnerability, were not afraid of real-talk and depp conversation, and to reveal the innermost parts of their hearts because they had hope that another girl would see them and say “you are welcome here. I want to be your friend. I want to walk through this season with you. I want to be in the trenches with you.”
During those seasons of friendship-seeking, or when you feel like your friendships aren’t what you had hoped they’d be, turn to Psalm 139 and take heart in knowing there is someone who knows you and loves you all the same.
In Psalm 139, David intensely describes how in awe he is about being intimately known by the Lord. In verses 13-16 David says, “13For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb.14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
If there has ever been a time where you have felt overlooked, or where you have longed for someone to just know you and accept you and stick by your side – know that you were made and formed with a purpose by someone who calls you wonderful. Despite anything you’ve done, despite your past, despite your future sins, despite how much money you have or don’t have, despite what clothing brands you wear. All of that gets overlooked and instead, Jesus looks at your heart. Jesus sees you and says you are mine and I know you. I see you, and I love you for who you are. How my heart sings when I read these verses!
In verse 23, David exclaims, “23Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” How freeing it is to know that nothing is hidden from the Lord? Things we are ashamed of, parts we have buried, things we’ve done, all our baggage…it is known by the Lord most high and yet He calls us His wonderful creation and still desires a relationship with us.
I finally began peeling away at the layers to reveal my vulnerability. It took faith, courage, and definitely shedding some tears but after I let myself be intimately known, I found out that relationship, friendship, and love were freely given in spite of knowing what lie beneath the layers – just as Jesus did for us when He died on the cross for our sins.
The amazing thing about God’s unceasing love for us is that despite knowing our flaws, our mistakes, and our issues, He accepts every part of us. Despite the fact that we are sinners, He draws us closer to Him. Despite the fact that we come with baggage, He reaches out for us and He longs to know us. Despite knowing us so thoroughly, so intimately, God says “I choose you.”
How wonderful is it that He calls me new and says it is good! The Psalms are an eye opening place to find yourself, especially if you are struggling with vulnerability in friendship, and have a desire to be known. So bury yourself in these verses, don’t lose heart when you feel like no one truly knows you or wants to grow a deep friendship with you. There is always someone who does! It might takes a few years to find them, but when you do, that is the friendship you will want to hang onto.
For more posts like this one on Vulnerability, Friendship, Faith, and Real-Talk,
head to the We Are Beautiful blog.