A good friend and I went out for coffee recently one evening to talk about life. And by coffee I mean she had tea and I had vodka and orange juice at a delightful local bistro which does serve coffee.
We have known each other for over ten years, so talking about the real stuff comes out easily with her. She asked me how I was doing. With many other people I would have said good or even great, and chose to focus on the genuine good in my life. But the truth was I was not doing good or great. It had been a very hard and very teary week. I am usually an upbeat person who tries hard to see the good in every day and encourage those around me.
But lately I have been struggling.
I have been struggling with the overwhelming emotions attached to parenting some challenging and difficult personalities in our children and the overwhelming emotions attached to my ongoing back pain. Those two combined with the dark, cold of winter had me in a low place.
I am a caregiver by nature. I love to encourage, build up and bless those who come into my life; even those around me I may not even know but can see are struggling. It is not work for me, it is genuinely second nature.
I make an intention to invite others in to my life because no one deserves to walk this journey alone.
Maybe it is a calling, or maybe it is simply how I am wired. I give my time and energy because I see the value of investing into others.
As I looked at my friend and swirled the ice in my drink, I knew I needed to be on the other end of it all right now. I needed someone to ask me how I was doing. I needed someone to love on me and build me up and pray for me. I needed to let my weakness show (and I hate showing weakness) and I needed to be vulnerable.
Nothing would be gained to keep the wall up, so I chose vulnerability.
"It has been really hard" I said, and it all just flowed from there. By the end I had tears running down my face and my friend nodding in understanding across from me with compassion in her eyes. We both agreed that living out this Christian thing is seriously hard! We agreed that we would not change it, and our faith in God was solid, but that did not make it easier.
Choosing to take the high road day after day is not for the faint of heart. It is much easier to quit and take the path if least resistance. In the low place I was in, quitting was looking more appealing. Quitting looks different for all of us. But you know what quitting looks like for you. At the end of our much longer then planned coffee date, my friend and I ended it off by bowing our heads across from each other in the bistro and genuinely lifting each other up to God in prayer.
We prayed for all the hard things we were feeling, the hardships of mothering, of being a wife in this culture, and personal struggles. We prayed for God to bless the other and see them through the hardships. I gave my friend a huge hug. I was so blessed by her simply being her and her genuine care for how I was doing. On my drive home, I felt lighter.
I am so happy I chose to be vulnerable and show my weaknesses.
"A sweet friendship refreshes the soul." Proverbs 27:9
I am so happy I chose to let my stubborn guard down and let my friend in and let her care for me.
I left there stronger and encouraged. I am very blessed for my sister in Christ. I encourage you to let others in to your story. To let genuine people who really care walk alongside you.
Being vulnerable has taught me so much over the last several years. It does not always come easy to me, but I value it. I need reminders like last week to show me the good in vulnerability. That trying to do life alone is tough, and letting others see my weakness is a constant choice. But without it, I build a wall that no one can get through and that is the loneliest place to live.