My husband likes to joke that I stalked him and he saw me hiding in the bushes. Literally, that has NEVER happened. Metaphorically though, I probably go into hiding more often than I even realize.
I haven’t tried too hard to hide my vulnerabilities on this blog (I’ve written about it here, and here), but even so, many of them remain hidden. Vulnerability hurts. And who of us really wants to show our brokenness?
We all have some level of brokenness though. Even if you can’t think of any negative events in your past, your own sinful nature creates a cycle of “naked, afraid, and hiding.” We simply all fall into that cycle. We can even read the first instance of this as early as the third chapter of the Bible. Adam and Eve decided to eat of the forbidden fruit and suddenly they were made aware of their own brokenness and vulnerability. For the first time, they fully understood sinfulness and realized that they were unworthy to stand in the presence of a holy God, so they covered themselves with leaves and hid in the bushes.
While the message of Adam and Eve is certainly specifically about the fall of man, there is a lesson that goes even beyond the fall – when we’re aware of our vulnerabilities, we become fearful and want to hide.
Marriage is a great way to learn how vulnerable you are!
The Christian marriage is a unique relationship. Scripture tells us that “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” God has uniquely designed marriage as one of the ways that two Christians can sharpen one another and make each other a little more Christ-like.
My husband does this well. He can point out when I get too busy with tasks to focus on relationships, when I get so focused on others that I neglect working on my own marriage, when I get too anxious with worries about “what might be,” and when I begin to let my past trauma and beliefs about myself negatively impact me (or us). He is good for me because he highlights my vulnerabilities without even meaning to.
You get to choose how you handle your vulnerabilities.
Adam and Eve chose to cover themselves and hide in the bushes when their vulnerability was exposed. In fact, they stayed in that place of hiding until God called them out of it. When my husband calls out my vulnerabilities (which often times happens by accident), I have to decide if I’ll run and hide, or face him and talk about them.
For example, I often feel a need to be in control and in charge. Take a wild guess how effective this attitude is in marriage. Because of my need for control, I can get in a place where I think that I’m doing really well as a wife and feel like I’ve become the Proverbs 31 woman. If my husband points out anything that I’ve done that needs to change, I can get defensive and truly believe that he’s wrong. Again…not effective in marriage.
When a time comes that my husband needs to lovingly point out a weakness in my own life (either purposely or accidentally), I’m in a place of decision. Will I run and hide believing I’m right and he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or will I decide to stay with him in that place, listen well, and change any behaviors that are causing a problem for us?
You have the same opportunity anytime you are sitting in a place of vulnerability and brokenness. Will you make the choice to metaphorically cover yourself and hide, or stand in the open, exposed to your spouse? And while hiding is so much easier to do, exposing your vulnerabilities is the only way you can give your spouse the opportunity to walk into those fearful places with you.
God brings healing for our vulnerabilities.
God doesn’t just use marriage as a way for us to sharpen one another. In his grace and goodness, marriage is also a way that he can give us healing for the hurts in our lives. Even as I type this, I have several pictures of times when I’ve revealed my fears or hurts to Jacob and he’s been a Christ-like presence for me. When he loves me beyond my imperfections, he’s loving me the way God has called him to.
Do you know what your spouse looks like in the cycle of naked, afraid, hiding? Does it look like abandonment, fear, anger, sadness, or a general meanness? Maybe your spouse just isn’t great at loving you well. All of those are a picture of brokenness and vulnerability. In your marriage, you not only have a chance to avoid the “run and hide” when your vulnerabilities are shown, but you can become more Christ-like in your own marriage by loving fully when your spouse shows that vulnerable side.
While there are exceptions to “loving fully” in cases of abuse, generally speaking, Christians are called to love like Christ loved us. Our aim should be to allow ourselves to stand naked and unashamed in front of our spouse while allowing them to do the same.
Which is harder for you? Being vulnerable with your spouse or allowing them to be vulnerable with you?