my struggle ||


I can’t even say the word. It doesn’t eloquently glide through my mouth like more pleasant words. Instead, its jagged edges score my throat and obstruct the otherwise smooth mechanics of speech. Its sour taste makes me gag.

Saying vulnerability is my biggest fear isn’t adequate. The thought of being vulnerable cripples me. It hinders my actions and renders me speechless.

I cannot be weak. I cannot be exposed. I cannot be assailable.

I need to be guarded. I need to be secure. I need to be closed.

Some people can have anyone pop in at any time because they keep their house immaculate. There is nothing to hide. They are so hospitable they will have a full spread of hors d’oeuvres whipped up in less than five minutes accompanied by the finest wine.

That isn’t me. Don’t pop in. You can knock. I will answer, but I will talk to you on the porch. If you have been around a time or two, I may let you in the door, but I won’t ask you to sit. I won’t pour you a drink or make you a sandwich or chat about the weather.

See, I have to keep you at a safe distance so you can’t see my mess.

My house isn’t clean. I am cluttered with garbage from long ago. I stockpile insecurities. I collect shortcomings.

I question the ability of my merits to outweigh my failures.

I hate being vulnerable.

I hate being hurt.

I hate being abandoned.

I hate being unworthy.

People can’t leave some place they have never been. People can’t abandon something that never belonged to them.

For years I have built my life upon that lonely doctrine. Stay guarded. Don’t let anyone in. If you do, leave them before they can leave you.

I was wrong.

When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:1-5 (NLT)

An excellent and remarkably wise friend said that you need at least four people in your life – one to carry each corner of your mat up to a rooftop and lower you through a hole they dug in the ceiling when you are paralyzed and cannot get to Jesus. Notice the wording in verse 5 “seeing their faith.” Jesus forgave this man of his sins, and ultimately healed him, because of the faith of his friends.

Each time I read this passage, I am struck by the vulnerability presented by this man’s paralysis. He was helpless; always at the mercy of another. His fault was glaringly obvious. The man could not walk. He could not fend for himself. Four charitable friends carried his mat to the place Jesus was. When they could not get in, they moved him onto the roof. They dug a hole through it and lowered him down with no guarantee aside from faith that their efforts would pay off.

When life renders you paralyzed, do you have four people to pick up the corners of your mat and carry you to Jesus? Because I didn’t. How could I when I was tenaciously resolved to keep people away?

How would anyone know when you are sick if you forever distance yourself and refuse genuine friendship?

I have learned that you can neither carry a mat nor rely on someone to take yours if you do not open yourself up to real relationships. You have to seek people out, and the kind of individuals you want carrying your mat don’t invest in the unknown.