The Rewards of Choosing Vulnerability in Relationships


Vulnerability with others and God is what leads to true intimacy. Without intimacy we cannot fully be who we were created to be.

But…vulnerability is hard. The most difficult thing we can do on this fallen earth is to reveal our true selves to others. We wonder: Will this person accept me? Will I be rejected if I reveal my true self? Will they think I am crazy? 

These questions come from a core belief of shame, whether we realize it or not. Shame drives us away from intimacy and into unhealthy relationships, addictions, loneliness, and even more shame. 

Because of shame we place ourselves in situations that are more comfortable but drive us away from our true intimacy needs. 

We run to the comfortable.It is easier to run to Facebook, Instagram, busyness, control, blaming others, and even drugs, alcohol, pornography, and sex than to reveal our true selves to others. It is the scarier and more difficult path to reveal our true selves to others. Yet, the only way we can experience true intimacy and have our authentic relational needs met is to be vulnerable. The risk is worth the reward.

To create intimacy with others and reject shame is terrifying. What scares us is the pain. It is painful to be rejected, and this fear comes from a real place for all of us. The fear of experiencing pain from the rejection of others can be a type of bondage. Do you want freedom? Can you push past your pain in order to get your emotional needs met?

This is a process for all of us. We must first experience emotional healing before we feel the freedom to be our true selves with others. For me, it has been important to find safe people and places to do the work of healing. My first place of healing from the wounds of rejection and shame was with my therapist. I cannot understate the value of working with a good therapist, regardless of whether you have diagnosable mental health issues. 

Beginning healing through therapy starts with humility. Just today I read in my She Reads Truth devotional “…seeking counsel, requires the humility to openly admit that we do not know all there is to know. It also requires the grace to receive what may, at the time feel like a wound, believing that wounds from a true friend can be trusted” (Proverbs, Day 18). 

Being with a therapist provided me with space to experience emotional healing in my brokenness and to learn what true friendship looks like. Without accepting my pain and healing from the emotional wounds of my childhood, as well as the ways addiction affected my family, I would not be able to be vulnerable with others or truly accept and love myself.

Emotional healing ultimately gives us freedom to be our true selves. When we are okay with who we are and learn to love ourselves, we can overcome the fear of rejection (shame) and push ourselves to be known by others

Even after seeing a therapist for years, it is still hard work for me to consistently practice vulnerability. But I strongly believe emotional healing leads us to accept ourselves and others in a way that allows us to have our real needs for friendship and love met. Only when we come to a place of acceptance can we living in the vulnerability that creates true intimacy.

Nothing else can fill our emotional needs except vulnerable and authentic relationships. We were created to be known and loved. It takes courage and faith to be vulnerable. Take heart, let your guard down, and allow yourself to be truly known. Only then will you experience lasting growth, intimacy, and self-acceptance.