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Vulnerability Hangover

Vulnerability hangover . . .

Have you ever had one? What's that, you ask?

It's the emotional state of discomfort and self-doubt that occurs after sharing personal thoughts, feelings, or experiences. It often arises when we reveal our true selves, share intimate details, or express our deepest emotions with others. - Brene Brown


Vulnerability and authenticity are uncomfortable feelings and strain against the human tendency to hide behind carefully groomed, socially polished facades that don't make us or others uncomfortable. The Bible encourages us to embrace vulnerability by sharing our painful experiences and losses through the vehicle of lament. The Psalms are full of the laments of David who had the courage to share his struggles with gut-wrenching rawness. I can't count the number of times I've drawn comfort and strength from David's laments as I'm sure you have too.


In my blog The Worship of Lament, I talked about how worshiping through lament benefits us in our personal walk with God. To recap, laments have four basic elements:


· turning to God,

· pouring our hearts out - complaining to him,

· asking for what we need, and

· trusting Him by recounting His goodness to us in the past.


Besides the benefit of lament in our personal Christian walk, when the church comes together in lament, it helps us strengthen our dependence on God and build stronger bonds with each other.

David's public laments are a good example of vulnerable and authentic worship, the kind of worship that builds intimacy with God and builds up the body of Christ.  He laid it all out there - his fears, his failures, his frustrations. He could have kept those things private, but he chose to be real.

Public lament has a healing effect for the lamenter. It gives the lamenter a place to be heard. When a person shares their lament by telling their story, the telling of the story starts the healing process. Pain that is voiced and processed becomes the basis of a new relationship with God, one that is more mature, more in tune with suffering, and better able to process difficulty.

Public lament as a practice also creates a church community that is sensitive to the pain of others, facilitating care and fellowship at a deeper level. Human tendency is to suppress or ignore our painful experiences and not want to talk about them. We fear judgment or that we will unduly burden others with our story. When we minimize our own suffering (through suppressing or ignoring it), we tend to deal with other's suffering in the same way, resulting in the community becoming progressively more desensitized, apathetic, and unable to participate in the suffering of others. The sufferer is left to suffer alone. If we are to follow the example of Jesus' life on earth, we too must show compassion and care, offering our presence and ears to those in pain.

Shared lament enables us to face realities in an honest way, correcting wrong ideas of the Christian life based purely on our own individual experience. It helps us understand that problems in the Christian life are not to be perceived as signs of failure but as normal and to be expected. It also corrects a false view of God that denies that suffering is a part of who God is. An integral part of the Christian story is that Jesus suffered abandonment and death. Through that suffering emerged resurrection power, victory in life, and triumph over death and sin. Suffering leads to power.


The next time you're tempted to 'not go there' - to the place that's too painful, too burdensome to share, too shameful to reveal, that place where you know you'll wake up the next morning with a vulnerability hangover; consider the heart attitude lament invites us to embrace - the surrender, dependence, and trust it fosters in our relationship with God, and the vehicle it provides to build stronger faith families where avoidance of pain and desensitization to the suffering of those around us is replaced with empathy and care. As lamenters, we don't avoid or ignore pain, but are able to embrace it as a means of moving to a higher level of power in our Christian walk. 


Lamentations 3:31-33

For the Lord will not reject forever, For if He causes grief, then He will have compassion, According to His abundant lovingkindness.


Galations 6:2

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.


Hebrews 4:15-16

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


- Author’s note - Inspiration for this post came from this article.

- Photo by Joyce Kelly on Unsplash

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