Before I knew the Lord, I wasn’t very comfortable with my emotions. I didn’t wear my heart on my sleeve and certainly didn’t want others to see what I felt. Or at least didn’t want them to see the feelings I associated with shame. But God made my heart more vulnerable when he called me “daughter.”
I felt things deeper than I ever had before when God made me his own. But it was still hard for me to believe that emotions like sadness, hurt, empathy, anger, and frustration were okay to share with the world.
So instead of living as the new woman that I am, I case my heart in stone, paint it flesh-colored and try to convince the world that I’m sharing my true emotions. No matter how carefully I try to make it look like the real thing, I know I’m hiding what I really feel.
I want to be called “strong.” I want to keep all the vulnerable parts stored up inside. Or at least get to choose what I let in or out. I want to have control over my heart.
Maybe you resonate with this. You may have been taught to hide your emotions or at least the less glamorous ones. You may think that the world is against you, so you guard yourself at all costs. Or maybe you’re scared of what would happen if people really saw what was in your heart.
Our hearts will suffocate if they’re hidden behind walls. We can’t survive to try and keep things bottled up inside. But this isn’t easy to do. Here are four suggestions for how to live a vulnerable life:
1) Remind yourself that God transforms the heart.
In Ezekiel 11 and 26, God is the one who takes the heart of stone and makes it into a heart of flesh. He is the one who washes away the old ways, breathes life into you, and makes your heart brand new. Believe that He did this. Do not make the new heart look like the old one. Trust that God is at work in your heart, and vulnerability is good because He makes it good.
2) Find a few trusted believers to help you grow in vulnerability with emotions.
It can be intimidating to let others see what’s really in your heart. For those of us who struggle to show the depths of our heart, it is helpful to start small. The key word is “a few” believers. Find those who know you and who you trust, and let them ask you hard questions. Let them see you cry or exclaim with joy. Whatever part of your heart you think is shameful, let others walk with you through it.
3) Read Bible passages full of deep emotion.
For the last year, I’ve only read the Psalms in my personal time in the Word. This has made me all the more comfortable with emotive language, and the intricacies of the human heart. The Psalms help me see that tenderheartedness is not shameful, but good and Godly. Outside of the Psalms, another helpful book is 2 Corinthians. Paul uses strong language about how deeply he feels for the Corinthian church. David and Paul, and countless other authors, can help us see Biblical examples of a fleshly heart.
4) Let your vulnerability with your emotions move you into obedience.
When I remember that God transformed my heart, when I let others know and love me, and when I read examples in the Bible about deep emotion and tenderheartedness, it motivates me to love others with the depth. Deep emotions are not something to hide; they are a work of the Holy Spirit and creates a heart that desires to obey God and His Word.
There is nothing to hide at the foot of the cross. The temptation to keep emotions hidden is strong, but God is stronger. The vulnerable heart is a Godly heart, and it is good.