I have been intentionally gathering people, in one way or another, for over twenty years and can honestly say one common denominator opens conversation like no other: vulnerability.
Whether it was college friends in our rent-house, teen girls for Big Weekend, ladies in Bible study at the church, or married couples in our living room, when someone gets real it changes the group dynamic in a positive way.
Many women are bearing burdens on their own, assuming they are the only one with a messy life. Living “Instagram filtered” isn’t helping anyone. As I talk to women, I hear underlying tones of loneliness and insecurity. And despite the outward appearance of togetherness, I hear of so much anxiety, struggle and fear.
If we feel like everyone around us has their life together, why wouldn’t we feel alone when our current reality feels anything but together? This is where vulnerability comes into play, as I have witnessed in dozens of conversations. There is no special formula: simply present your true self, share your actual life, and open up about the things in which you need prayer, advice or wisdom.
Trust me, I understand there is a fine line between sharing our lives and oversharing. However, it’s worth finding that sweet spot if we want our conversations and relationships to be deep, connected, and life-giving. Keeping three things in mind has helped me cultivate vulnerable spaces.
Keeping three things in mind has helped me cultivate vulnerable spaces.
1. Listen and engage.
Conversation is two-way, involving actively listening and responding with questions, along with sharing our own thoughts and feelings. I make it a goal in conversation to learn something new about my friend and also share my heart with them. These are connecting points that you can refer back to in future conversations, creating deeper bonds.
2. It can start with you.
When we share our own struggles, we create a safe space for others to share as well. In every type of group I’ve been a part of, when one person breaks out of the “everything’s fine” mold and shares something deeper, a domino effect takes place and others follow suit with similar experiences or words of encouragement.
3. Follow up.
When a friend opens up, they invite us to join their journey. With new information, we now have an opportunity to walk with them in the struggle, fighting for them with our prayers (setting a reminder on my phone has been helpful). We create connectedness by reaching back out to them, checking in, and letting them know we are still thinking about and praying for them.
In Ephesians 6:10-20 we read that, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but... against the power of darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” God gives us spiritual armor for our battles and invites us to battle together with other believers as we live vulnerably and hold each other up.
How have you cultivated deep connections with others? How has someone else’s vulnerability encouraged you? Thank God today for the women who have been vulnerable with you and ask Him who could benefit from your vulnerability.
Meet the Author!
Heather McAnear is a wife, mom, author and speaker with a passion for sharing God's truth to help women understand their uniquely beautiful design and how to use it for God's glory! She loves teaching young married couples with her husband, homeschooling their three children, traveling the world, enjoying good chocolate and long conversations in coffee shops. CRBC has been her church home for two decades and she is thrilled to be part of the Women's Ministry team, helping women connect with each other and grow in their walk with Jesus!