The Immeasurable Value of Vulnerability
Walking through a thrift store, I picked up a worn, tattered, terracotta-colored book. Its pages smelled rich, dusty, almost earthy. The author had already long passed, and I knew that many souls had thumbed through these pages before me, immersing themselves in the writer’s thoughts. Ironically, what inspired me the most about holding this book was not the letters typed out thoughtfully on the page, but the tangible trophy of someone else’s courage that I held in my hands.
The moment that words are shared, the ripple of their impact begins like a stone on the water. It’s the most beautiful and terrifying thing about sharing words—that they can still move and alter hearts and minds long after the vulnerable ideas are uttered. In order to make an impact, I’ve had to realize for myself, that my stones can’t stay in hand. They must actually hit the water.
If I’m honest, I spent a long time staring at the water, tight-fisted, and avoiding eye contact with my dreams. I became a mom to the most expressive, blue-eyed baby boy, and began to find a steady rhythm of mothering that didn’t seem to fit with those dreams. I knew my creative, God-given gifts still wanted a place because they still ached in me. I knew bits and pieces of what I was capable of and I constantly felt them hovering like a tireless hummingbird, just waiting. And yet, despite everything I knew about my identity in my gracious, creative God, I became crippled by a simple phrase: it’s all been said before. It’s been sung before, written before, thought of before and therefore, I felt nothing I did would be original or worth sharing. I had many dreams of writing and sharing my words and songs that I had almost laid to rest—the very beauty of God’s gift of words was lost on me.
My fears had also begun corroding my willingness to be vulnerable in my friendships and community. I could seem vulnerable all day long in my ministry life, but I could simultaneously feel the pang of dissipating relationships as I distanced my heart from the core of my own creative being. It was like I stood at the edge of this beautiful, open field with a huge ball and chain around my ankle. All I wanted to do was run and enjoy my own life how I felt I was supposed to, but I was binding myself with layers of untruthful perceptions and paralyzing insecurities.
In my own limited frame of mind, I could not understand how valuable my ideas and my thoughts were. I was blinded to the beauty that could become if I were to just let myself hit the water.
Isn’t that how God works? We think we’ve landed our own resolutions and come to our own conclusions…
“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:1
God placed really vulnerable and safe women in my life that had already said a firm “nope” to these fears. They had wrestled with deaths and doubts like I had. They were people in tune with the Holy Spirit, people in love with their own callings, and people engaged in healthy community. They were already jumping in the water and running in the field, and I hadn’t known how much I’d needed to witness it until it was happening. As soon as I’d really started to feel a deep sense of sadness about laying these things to rest, God provided me the perspectives of others who were courageously letting their stones hit the water—and not only surviving it, but thriving because of it.
Our honest words and our creative expressions matter deeply. They matter because they impact others as they are shared and they unearth new beauty in this current time and place. They matter because they are a part of each of us, and each of us is a very specifically crafted reflection of God. I was deeply changed by following in the footsteps of others who were living so freely and joyfully. In the process, my vulnerability became my courage, and I was able to throw my first stones into that water and run—no, dance—through that field. And if you’re wondering about that little terracotta book? I purchased it for $1.00. It sits on a table in my home next to a small fern, reminding me of the immeasurable value of saying “yes” to vulnerability and courage.
Jamie L. Robison