In 2016, I was forced to become vulnerable in ways I had never experienced. Much of this stems from the struggle I have had over the last year with anxiety and depression. I have always been extroverted, but suddenly, I felt withdrawn and resistant to the time I spent with people who used to fill me with energy. My closest friends became a drain, through no fault of their own. My workout routine dropped to nonexistence. I struggled to get out of bed each morning. For weeks at a time, I felt so overwhelmed that I couldn’t touch the dishes in my sink or the laundry on my floor.
Early in September, I was on a FaceTime call with my non-biological parents/mentors. They are wonderful people who adopted me into their home and their hearts several years ago when I was seeking a safe place to land. On this particular night, they asked me to be real with them and talk about what was really going on.
I just cried.
Pops was the first person to use the word “depression” for what I was experiencing. I was terrified of the idea. I was just unmotivated and cranky – right?
Later that same week, one of my close friends essentially forced me to spend time with her (she bribed me with Bananagrams and white wine). She asked the same question, encouraging me to be vulnerable with her by reminding me of her own lifelong struggle with depression and anxiety.
Again, I cried.
At one point in my journey into vulnerability, I was asked to write and lead prayer for my church community during our Sunday worship service. I stood in front of my congregation and yelled the words, “I AM NOT OKAY” at God. After the service, people I had never met approached me with tears in their eyes, assuring me that I was not alone, and they were not okay either. They thanked me for my vulnerability.
We cried – together. Where words failed, tears revealed us to one another, allowing us to find a sacred space of dangerous vulnerability.
One of the ways I’ve learned to cope with my anxiety is some good old-fashioned crock-pot cookin!
Chicken Taco Chili:
Combine in crock-pot:
16oz can black beans (do not drain)
16oz can red kidney beans (do not drain)
(2) 10oz cans diced tomatoes with chilies
8oz can tomato sauce
1 small red onion, diced
1 packet mild or medium taco seasoning
1 bag frozen corn kernels
2 tbsp Tastefully Simple Fiesta Party Seasoning (Or substitute ¼ tsp onion powder, ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp oregano, and 1 ½ tsp chili powder)
Stir together ingredients and add 2 large, frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove fully cooked chicken breasts from pot, shred, and stir back into chili.
Tastes best with fresh avocado slices, shredded mozzarella cheese, and fresh cilantro sprinkled on each bowl!
Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been (Acoustic) – Relient K, Mmhmm10 (2014)
Relient K has been my favorite band since middle school, and the original Mmhmm album changed my 15-year-old life. There is something deeply sacred about the way these familiar words speak to my fear of vulnerability.
Lord God, Teach us to be dangerously vulnerable.
Forgive us for our refusal to show our brokenness to one another. Forgive us for our refusal to see the brokenness that lies behind the eyes of those across the table, across the aisle, and across the room from us. Forgive us for our refusal to acknowledge the brokenness that looks back at us from the mirror. Forgive us our failure to ask for help, and our failure to ask how we can be helping.
God, teach us to be dangerously vulnerable with you and with your people. Teach us to admit our failings, our pain, and our fears, to you and to those whom you have placed as vessels of your loving care in our lives. Teach us to shout, “I’m not okay!” so that someone else can catch us as we fall. Teach us to hold brokenness tenderly, with the willingness to sooth one another’s tears the way a parent soothes the cries of their young child.
How are you attending to your brokenness? Take time this week to examine your life. Who are you being dangerously vulnerable with? Who have you been vulnerable with in the past that you find yourself avoiding now? Call that person and schedule a coffee date. Tell them about how you are hurting and ask them to be present.
How are you attending to the brokenness of others? Who has recently disappeared from your life? Bribe them with Bananagrams and a bottle of white wine – create safe space for them to be dangerously vulnerable. Ask them share their brokenness and let them cry. Cry with them. Hold the sacred space of their story without forcing a solution into the vulnerable space.
BEAUTY IN VULNERABILITY – VAL FISK