Dedicated to my community of friends, and especially to the PrayTextRepeat crew that got me through this week … you know who you are. I couldn't have made it this week without you.
This week a friend told me about a conversation she had with someone about me. She said that she told the person, "I need to be like Sheila." I laughed and told her that I needed to be like her. You need to understand that this particular friend is one of my spiritual rocks, ride or die, got my back, truth telling, always on point, loyal and everything else.
She went on to tell me what she meant, " No matter what is going on in your life, you will never hesitate to reach out and ask for prayer and support." She shared that God is teaching her that is something she needs to do … reach out and ask for support when you need it. I completely understood her point. It's almost easier to support, pray for, encourage and lift up everyone else, but sometimes we don't rush to ask for the same support. There's this warped view that reaching out and showing our vulnerability is a sign of weakness.
I told my friend that I haven't always been that way. Within my circles, for the most part, I was the one who would be the first to congratulate, encourage, support and lift up my crew. I recognize this is who I authentically am and it literally gives me joy to do so. But it wasn't always easy to ask for that same support. It creates relationships where the giving is one sided, denying the opportunity for a genuine reciprocal friendship where you help each other. When I was younger, my view was that as a friend, it was always important to be that strong person.
Now, let's be clear, this doesn't mean that I share everything with everyone, for me it is sharing with a community that I trust. It may not always be the same group of people, sometimes I have been led to share with the person I least expect like someone I may have just met. But it often turns out to be the one who gives me the encouragement I need.
One of the most authentic tests of a friendship/relationship is someone who loves me – and accepts my strengths and my struggles. I also do the same for them. Everyone needs and deserves that space of grace. Those who encourage need to be encouraged, too.
One of my friends shared a defining moment in our relationship that deepened our friendship. It was the moment, in the midst of being overwhelmed one day, I vented to her. (Okay, if she is reading this, she is laughing and saying that venting is a HUGE understatement.... the words that she heard ....Lord Jesus) What I do remember is that she listened to me and was the safe space that I needed … no judgement or shame.
She later told me that this was the first time that I had shown her my vulnerable side. She was also grateful that it was a phone conversation, so I couldn't see her expression, which was something like ......
But our friendship deepened because she realized in that precise moment how I trusted her enough to take a risk and share with her my vulnerability. Likewise, her response instantly confirmed to me that she was a safe place. It shattered the false image (for both of us) of perfection.
She didn't respond with, "Sheila, you're not supposed to be like this, you are the strong one." (Yes, I've been told that) or "What's wrong with you? (Yes, I've been told that, too) or "You're strong, you can handle it." It's as if you're not allowed to have an off moment or bad day. Each of these responses are exactly what you don't want to hear when you have authentically expressed yourself.
If you truly love me, you will give me the space for the complete imperfectness of who I am. Yet you will also give me the chance to be the same for you.
At this point in my life, I've discovered that the depth of friendship is determined by the depth to which we accept each other's strengths as well as each other's struggles. Do we really feel safe enough to share our vulnerability?
Yeah , that's my superhero .......Slaying myths all day long
What myths does your Superhero slay today?
So encourage each other to build each other up, just as you are already doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Living Bible (TLB)
Check out Brené Brown's presentation on vulnerabilty.