The first step I took to finding my place in God’s story, was to be more vulnerable with others. Vulnerability, as we discuss it here, is not defined as weakness but courage. It is us sharing our lives with someone to positively affect them and/or being vulnerable to help ourselves through pain or hardship. I had always shared my life, but only to a certain point. I felt God telling me that one of the greatest tools to reach others was by sharing my story as it is woven in His.
My story was full of joy, grief, suffering, laughter, love, forgiveness, anger, and compassion, just to name a few. My story is ultimately, no different from yours or anyone else’s other than the fact that I lived it. We all share the same feelings and emotions because we are all created by the same creator. It’s just the circumstances, places, and specific people in our lives that are different. We have all grieved, laughed, been angry, shown love and given love and on and on we could go.
I felt God telling me that one of the greatest tools to reach others was by sharing my story as it is woven in His.
In 2010 my wife and I were expecting our first child. The joy we felt was indescribable but unfortunately short lived. See, we found out that our little girl was going to have some major health issues and there was a chance she would not even make it. The joy quickly turned to pain, anger, grief, emptiness, and tears. Genevieve and I had a decision to make. Either continue to live in those emotions or celebrate the life of our little girl for as long as we had her.
There was a wonderful friend of Genevieve and I’s named Cassandra who went to church with us. She bought a book for Genevieve on a mother’s journey through a similar circumstance. Genevieve began to read the book and, because someone else was willing to share their story through a book and be vulnerable, our whole perspective on our situation changed. Instead of mourning and grieving, we began to celebrate the life of Faith. Shortly after Genevieve began reading the book, we named our daughter Faith Marlene Elrod. Marlene was my grandmother’s name and Faith came from the faith we had in God that He was in control and a miracle could happen. We decided that every day the Lord gave us with her, we were going to make it special. We played songs for her. I read to her every night. We went to restaurants so she could experience different foods (cookies and cream milkshakes seemed to be her favorite) and so much more. We loved every minute we had with her even through the tears.
. . . because someone else was willing to share their story through a book and be vulnerable, our whole perspective on our situation changed.
Faith did not make it and was stillborn. Even though her body laid motionless in my wife’s arms, we had enjoyed the months we had with her. We were at peace because we knew she was with God and was not suffering anymore. We were so grateful for the time we shared with her. Lots of tears were shed and we grieved the loss of our first child, but we also celebrated the life she lived. Faith, even though she never uttered a word or took a breath on this earth, had a huge impact on many lives. Genevieve and I were changed for the better. We saw it in our marriage, our walks with God, our relationships, and we grew closer to our church family. Many people from all over the world have been touched by Faith. Some have even come to know God because of her story.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 we read of how God is our comforter. Vulnerability can be a connection point for us to God and for us to each other. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
Vulnerability can be a connection point for us to God and for us to each other.
Below is a list of the five things vulnerability has taught me and some questions for your reflection.
My struggle can become my message: Your pain, my pain can turn into good, if we allow it. Our story can help others walk through life. It is God’s training tool.
Vulnerability provides comfort: I have found, the more I share, the more I am changed and healed. When I lay it all out there for God and others, I realize that the comfort of God is unlimited. More than anything I gain is the comfort of sharing the story of Faith or other stories in my life that I see provides comfort, healing and strength to those with whom I am sharing. Sometimes it is hard to share pain or a struggle, but, when you see the benefit it brings others, you cannot help but share.
Vulnerability provides connection: It opens doors to stronger relationships, new friendships, and a healthier you.
It is terrifying at times: Being vulnerable is not easy. It becomes easier the more you practice sharing your life with others, but it can be very hard. Recognize that, but do not let it stop you. The reward is far greater than the discomfort you feel. For yourself, but, more importantly, for the person with whom you are sharing.
Vulnerability is not sharing every detail of your life with everyone: Not everyone will want to hear your story and even those closest to you might not want every detail. Just be real and listen to the Holy Spirit prompting you to share or not.
Questions to ask yourself:
Am I a vulnerable person?
Do I see vulnerability as a weakness or courageousness?
What can I learn from my struggle?
Who needs to hear my pain, story, life experience?
Join me next week, as we will discuss the second step I took to help me discover who I was and where was I going. May the Lord bless you on your journey of growth and transformation.
Let's grow, thrive, and serve TOGETHER!