We all try to stand strong. Keep a stiff upper lip. Not to be needy or negative. But the truth is, we are all vulnerable. God created us like this. Although it feels like (& is often judged as) weakness.
So what do you do with vulnerability? Not only yours, but other people’s?
There are only two ways to respond to vulnerability. One creates connection & empowers people to become more like person God created us to be. The other response kills us. Dying a slow death in a painful process.
Empathy. We all need it. Even men. In case you are wondering.
Empathy is feeling with someone. Even if that someone is you. Allow the hurt, sadness, & fear to be experienced & expressed. Recalling what you have felt & being willing to sit with another in the same emotional state is perhaps the most precious gift you have to give.
“You know what you have — Jesus, your great High Priest with ready access to God — don’t let that knowledge slip through your fingers. You don’t have a Priest who is out of touch with your experience. He’s been through vulnerability & testing Himself. So walk right up to Him & get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy. Accept His help.” HEBREWS 4:15
Shame. The destructive response.
Shame is an emotion we all experience. But it doesn’t have to become a lifestyle. You don’t have to carry these thoughts with you:
- You’re not good enough.
- Who do you think you are?
Shame focuses on who you are. It’s different than guilt, which focuses on your behavior. Something you have (or haven’t) done that you wish you didn’t do (or wish that you did do).
- Guilt is productive because it can motivate change.
- Shame is debilitating because it tells you that you cannot change.
Are you unknowingly shaming others?
Perhaps the same way you have been shamed?
- Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone.
- The “it sucks to be you” mindset.
- Superiority. Lecturing.
- Giving advice.
Yes, we are vulnerable creatures. Shame can destroy us. Whereas empathy destroys shame & sets us free to receive God’s goodness. Jesus made it possible by taking on our shame in Divine Exchange:
“Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.” ISAIAH 61:7