Relationships are key in life…We were made to be connected to one another! God created all kinds of relationships, including family, friendships, and love relationships (Genesis 2:18, James 2: 23).. All of these teach us valuable lessons and about how God loves and cares for us. God also invites us into a relationship with Him through his son — a very relational concept! If relationships are so important to God, how do we develop them? And why risk having close relationships when we have been hurt by them in the past?
According to Millie Welsh, relationships go through a cycle of several phases. Every relationship begins at a superficial or shallow level; you don’t know the person and they don’t really know you. You meet, possibly engage in small talk, and move on — unless one of you takes it to the next level. If a person never builds their relationships past this superficial level, they will be lonely and empty.
The next phase is Information Gathering, aka “acquaintance”. This is the point when you ask the other person questions about themselves and get to know more about them (job, hobbies, likes/dislikes).
The next phase in a relationship requires vulnerability. According to Brene Brown, vulnerability is “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” It is the willingness to open yourself up to another person… more than just fact sharing, it is choosing to share how you feel about something or someone.
When a person is vulnerable, and it is met with acceptance, this leads to more self disclosure, feeling known/ loved, and a united relationship. Based on Brene Brown’s research, vulnerability, when met with empathy/acceptance, has many benefits. It decreases shame and promotes closeness in relationship. Also it is the birthplace of every positive emotion, including empathy, compassion, love, belonging, adaptability, accountability.”
However; vulnerability, when met with rejection, leads to a person shutting down, becoming impenetrable, and a superficial relationship. A person learns to build walls around their emotions in order to not feel rejected again (Welsh, 2012). It is after these instances of rejection we learn to keep our guard up with people so that they will not hurt us. We don’t allow ourselves to feel, for fear of what we might end up actually feeling. Vulnerability, when met with judgement, betrayal, or silence, creates shame and disengagement in relationship (Brown, 2013). Rejection teaches us to build walls around our hearts to protect ourselves from being hurt.
It is important to be discerning of your audience before you jump into vulnerability. Brene Brown says vulnerability is “…for those who have earned the right to hear your story” and “those who can bear the weight of your story.” At some point, we all have to decide which relationships are worth the risk of getting hurt on the chance that they can grow into a lasting relationship that changes our lives for the better. There will always be a risk that someone will abuse your vulnerability, but if God created us to enjoy relationships with Him and one another, we must come to the conclusion that He wants us to courageously pursue the hearts of others in order to grow in Him.
I encourage you to take your guard down & risk vulnerability with trusted individuals in your life.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable”.
Brown, B. 2013. The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection, & Courage. Available from
Welsh, M. (2012, May 30). Made for Relationship. Crupressgreen. Retrieved from
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