By: Sannaz Malakmohammadi
Events Coordinator, Resonate Church
As humans, often time our natural instinct is to protect ourselves. For example, if you saw a bear, your first reaction would probably be to run away. You’d want to get as far away from the bear as possible because it poses a threat to your life, but if you know anything about bear safety, you’d know that is probably the worst thing you could do. If you run, the bear will think you’re prey and chase after you, and let’s be honest, most of us probably can’t outrun a bear. The proper way to react when you encounter a bear is by remaining calm and standing tall. My initial reaction when I see a bear, was very similar to my first instinct when it came to the topic of vulnerability. You may think that’s a weird comparison, but bear with me for a bit.
Everyone has a unique story that has been hand crafted by God. We have all been wonderfully made by our creator. As Psalm 139: 13-14 states, before we were born, He knit us together in our mothers' wombs. I know this, yet it’s something that I have continued to struggle with my whole life.
I didn’t have the easiest upbringing, and for most of my life there was this sense of shame that was attached to my identity because of it. I didn’t want people to know what was going on in my life, because I didn’t want people to associate me with it. I wanted people to see me as the person that I tried to be in public: positive, happy, and put-together. But for most of my life, that was really just a façade. I was dealing with some serious issues and I wasn’t positive, happy, or put-together. There were days where I struggled to put a smile on my face, but I did it anyways, because I would rather have people believe the façade then know what was really going on in my life. I didn’t want to be vulnerable with people, because I didn’t want the struggles I was facing to be associated with my identity.
Looking back, I can honestly say that my identity was rooted in the acceptance of others. I wanted people to like me and think of me in a positive light. In my eyes, I didn’t think that would be possible if they knew what I was really going through. I wanted people to associate me with strength, not weakness, and I thought that if people knew my story that they would think I was weak. So, in order to keep up appearances, I put up a wall to save face.
As the years passed, I noticed a sense of discontentment in my life which made me re-evaluate where I found my identity. I’m not going to sit here and say that there was a “eureka” moment. It was definitely a slow process filled with a lot of prayer, but I started to dig deep into who I am in relation to Jesus. I started to recognize that where I was placing my identity was misguided; I started to realize that the things of this world are fleeting, and the only thing that is truly constant is who I am in Jesus. I was having a conversation with a friend and she said something along the lines of, “Who are we to keep our past to ourselves? Our lives aren’t just our story to tell, they are a testament of God’s power and grace.” With the truth of where my identity lied, and the wise words of my friend in mind, it dawned on me that I was looking at vulnerability all wrong.
I started to look back on my life and I realized that through all my struggle God was so evident. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works or the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” In my life He has worked in ways that were so incredible and continued to be my rock in the midst of the storm. By not allowing myself to be vulnerable, I was doing God a disservice. Now I’m not saying that you should pour your heart out to every person you meet, but I do think that by sharing how God has worked in our lives we are able to glorify God, and offer a sense of encouragement to those around us.
Currently, my Resonate group is going through a video series dedicated to how our souls are doing. One of the topics we discussed is the idea of serving; not only serving the church, but also serving others. By being vulnerable with one another about our current situation, it has enabled us to build a community that lifts each other up in times of struggle, which is really what community is all about. As a group, we have committed to praying and encouraging one another throughout the week, whether it be through email, phone call, or texting. Being vulnerable takes courage, and by creating a safe and open space, I can see how God is using the people in my Resonate group to lift others up and speak truth into their lives.
By redefining where I found my identity, and realizing that my identity is found in Christ, I was able to tear down the walls that I had once built. No amount of outside acknowledgement fixed the hurt that went on inside, but once I realized that my identity is in Christ, my hurt was replaced by truth. Since my identity is rooted in this truth, I can continue to keep calm and stand tall in who He is.
With much love,