“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” John 4:29 NIV
“How are you doing today?”
That is all my friend had to text me. In minutes, I was sharing a long, over-the-top diatribe about a situation that pained me. Just three words and I responded back with what seemed like a book. As I hit ‘send’, I was immediately regretting how much my overshare might have made this ministry leader look like a mess.
Don’t we all feel this way sometimes? In pain and yet tightly holding it in so it won’t leak out from our inside? Why do we hesitate to remove the façade long enough to really answer the question, “How are you?”
To partner and be a part of a community, we have to force the lie out of our heads that our friends will think differently of us if we open up. Instead we have to trust that they love us enough to see our imperfections…and that they will keep loving us regardless of them. But, like the broken Samaritan woman, I came to the well that day, and thank God, my friend was Jesus to me.
We don’t always get this right as the church, do we? We stumble around discussing our pain because vulnerability can feel scary. But, being vulnerable doesn’t close doors; it invites others to walk through them. “Come inside. Be a part of a life that also looks imperfect.” And this vulnerability, this vulnerability gives opportunity for reciprocity.
Jesus’ example of this is all over John 4. He sat down tired, scripture says, needy, burdened by jealous baptizers, and thirsty. After asking for what would fulfill Him, a drink, in verse 16, He then tells the Samaritan woman “Go, call your husband and come back.” This request came despite His foreknowledge. He knew she had a closet full of skeletons and no lock on the door because everyone knew she had no current husband to speak of. And yet, this deeply penetrating and honest inquiry would actually lead her to proselytize about the “Messiah”. This. is. powerful.
What a beautiful truth and safe place it is to feel loved in our mess and to love others in theirs. Do we really think it is more comfortable to live apart from transparency when it is most comfortable to live in it? Like the woman at the well, those around us need to feel safe with being wildly vulnerable in our presence. How rich those three words are. “How are you?” I pray that we no longer settle for an arbitrary answer from our friends, when divorce, a frustrated teenager, the loss of a parent, an exhausting toddler, or their child’s painful classroom experience is all they can think about behind their, “I’m great” reply. We draw others to restoration in Jesus when we allow them to acknowledge their frailty and need for Him. When Jesus allows us to share “everything we did” we can let Him meet us as the Messiah.
Vulnerability can start with just three little words and a passion to know the real answer to “How are you”, friend?
Your Fellow Able Mom,
Jesus, let us be responsive to you, honest with our vulnerabilities, and willing to love like you and walk others through life’s messes. Let us live a transparent life that allows others to be restored in light of your love for us.
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