On Practicing Vulnerability
My husband and I worked in youth ministry for over ten years, so we've had many conversations with former students who are about to get married. They always ask the "one piece of advice" we'd give, and it's this:
Nothing is too small to talk about.
In our first week of post-honeymoon marriage, Kaz and I had our first fight. About how to hang bathroom towels. Because I guess towels are really emotional? But if we hadn't gotten practice with the small stuff, we would've been too afraid to tackle the big stuff.
Vulnerability is a learned skill, and too often we're afraid to hone it. The small conversations develop the muscle memory in our souls to feel safe with the big ones, but most of us skip over the small and tackle the big with weak muscles and a posture of self-preservation. Those interactions often turn into fights full of tears, misunderstanding, and emotionally drained mornings in need of double shots of espresso.
Whether it's your spouse, your brother, your daughter, or your best friend, practicing vulnerability says, "I feel silly saying this out loud, but I'm going to trust you with it. I'm going to be insecure and believe you won't reject me." And when she doesn't, you move closer to each other, trusting that the next step will go the same way. It's not a test; it's a dance.
As I write on this dark Monday morning, I'm grateful for the rhythm of the dance. Sure, it's fantastic finding your people, but keeping them takes practice. It takes being vulnerable about stupid stuff so you can be brave about the deep stuff.
So today, instead of being the superhero who has zero problems, be the regular person who falls apart a little, and listen to the small vulnerability shared by your people with a listening spirit, not a dismissive one. Remember that being a person means being real. It's the scariest thing in the world to start that dance, but the more you do it, the safer you feel.
It's natural to feel silly talking about towels, but it's actually the best place to start.