surviving or thriving?

Vulnerability: the state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

I find that our culture has taught us to be everything but vulnerable. We are encouraged to put forth this image of having it all together. Social media teaches us to value that perfect picturesque life. But does that really help us connect with one other or does it remind us of our sheer brokenness when compared to other’s perfectly presented lives?

I want to be vulnerable without being vulnerable at the same time. I’m not even entirely sure what vulnerability looks like? But I think that the Lord uses our vulnerable brokenness to bring us closer to each other and to Him.

So here is my attempt at vulnerability. Here’s where I’m at. Life is challenging and painful. I struggle a lot with figuring out how to live in the face of unspoken pain (as Ann Voskamp puts it). What’s worse is that sometimes I don’t struggle not to struggle, I give into the lie that this is where I belong. In pain, physical or emotional. It’s easy to feel invisible when hurting and to believe that no one sees it.

It sucks. I think we’ve done a shitty job, as a culture, of accepting each other’s pain. Instead there’s this idea that everything has to be good. Everything has to be fine. If life is not fine, you’re not doing it right. You’re not a good Christian. You don’t trust the Lord enough (which is true at times).

But the truth is, I haven’t been fine.

“Are you surviving or thriving?” is a question I like because it can be pretty telling. Surviving as in just barely making it. Trying to keep your head above water. Living day to day. Thriving to me is like growth and joy and peace. Its what comes after the surviving. You toil and fight and struggle, and then you see the growth. The truth is I’ve been surviving for awhile. Trying to figure out who I am and where I belong. Trying to figure out how to do life and what I truly believe and value. Trying to make it look like I’m great to the rest of the world because Heaven forbid we actually worry (and thus pray?) for one another. Sometimes I pray that the Lord would open my eyes to other’s pain. Maybe it’s just where I’m at right now and what I am learning and going through, but it seems like we’re not good at seeing each other’s pain and being there for each other. Out of sight out of mind, right? If we aren’t aware of it then we don’t have to worry about it. We don’t have to recognize it. We don’t have to talk about it. Here’s what I’m learning though, He is sovereign and faithful.

He is sovereign over my pain.

He is sovereign over my anger.

He is sovereign over my brokenness.

What a reassuring thought. There is so much hope in that. He sees me. He sees it all. I want him to be glorified in my pain, struggle, whatever it is. Yes we will struggle. I will have pain and sorrow and heart break, but there is a wonderful Savior and in that fact I rest. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Sometimes I just sit and dwell on that thought and am filled with peace. The Lord is so faithful in times of need. Sometimes we need to see our own brokenness to realize how much the Lord is redeeming our life to look more like His.

“In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

He sees the pain of running that last mile of a race and he’s there at every turn. Not taking the challenge away, but silently whispering encouragement. He is present amidst our struggle. He’s teaching me to thrive while surviving. To find rest and contentment in Him amidst the chaos of life. He is sovereign.