Today’s post is about vulnerability. Which means that no one will read it.
Ok, maybe that’s being extreme, but it isn’t a very appealing topic, is it? If you look up the word “vulnerable” in the dictionary, it does not have a single definition that is positive. So I feel like my task today is similar to trying to convince you to eat raw broccoli 21 meals per week. For life.
I used to think that vulnerability was the worst feeling of all. I mean who wants to be vulnerable? That to me is something you say when you’re in war and you are in a position that is vulnerable to attack. Exposed. If you are in a vulnerable place then your only safe bet is to get out of there. But eventually I learned that vulnerability is actually the second worst feeling of all. What is the worst feeling of all, you ask?
The worst feeling of all is the feeling of being in hiding. The feeling of secrecy. The feeling that “No one really knows me.” The reason I think that this is such a terrifying feeling is that there’s a second half to that sentence: “No one really knows me, and if they did, they would know that I am a loser.” Men, I hate to break it to you, but here is the terrible choice that we face: Hiding on one hand, and vulnerability on the other. That is the unavoidable tradeoff. You see, when we avoid vulnerability we immediately have chosen secrecy. Secrecy brings with it shame and deception. Secrecy is Nixon’s Watergate and every front page scandal that has ever rocked the church. You don’t want to go there. But by avoiding vulnerability we have chosen to go there, out on a lonely tightrope of secrecy to spend the rest of our life hoping that we don’t lose our balance.
Because of this, we must redefine vulnerability. Vulnerability is freedom. Vulnerability is being known. Vulnerability is openness. It allows you to say “I have literally nothing to hide.” Vulnerability means that you build up trust over time to get you through life’s boredoms and traumas. But in practical terms, vulnerability is simply this: Talking About Things That Matter With A Guy Who You Respect. It is really that simple! But how do we get there? How do we go from secrecy to openness?
I have been involved with several accountability groups throughout my life. I have found that their main benefit to me has been that they have created a time and a place and an opportunity to be vulnerable with men that I trust. Sometimes it’s been a small group up to six, other times it’s been just one other guy. (And when it was a group of six I was somewhat selective at how vulnerable I was with the entire group.) Accountability groups get a bad reputation, because they can end up being an early morning guilt session. Which no man needs! But these groups are powerful when a group of men get together to be honest and real with each other as they hold each other accountable. So if you focus on grace instead of condemnation, this vulnerability can create a true band of brothers.
Still not convinced? Here are a couple practical tips:
- Build it now so you have it when you need it. It will take a year or more to build enough trust to really feel comfortable, and someday you are going to face a crisis and will actually need to have someone you can call.
- It is very powerful to talk to a guy you respect about things that matter. Everything from hassles at work to parenting, to marital intimacy, to which HDTV is the best deal.
- By talking about things that matter, it helps you to sort through some of your thoughts, emotions, and impulses. This helps you know which are legit and which are just whiny.
- Talking about things that matter helps you to practice so that you are better able to communicate with your wife. This is definitely an area that I need to practice, trust me! It does not come naturally.
Vulnerability Redefined: Necessary For True Masculinity
Yes, reader – you may be the exception. You may be John Wayne or The Lone Ranger or Clint Eastwood and you don’t need nothin’ from nobody. Nothing bothers you and you are just fine on your own. But for the rest of us mere mortals, talking about things that matter with a guy you respect could be the crucial next step in your path to true masculinity.
Talk back: What does vulnerability mean to you? Is this a true need, or just the product of our over-psychologized, feminized, wimpy culture? If you need it, how do you achieve it?
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