Truly, vulnerability hangovers can be traumatic. Perhaps, you’ve never experienced one, but I doubt it. Nevertheless, the morning after is always the worst.
Like a sucker-punch to the stomach, vulnerability hits hard when we’ve shared the ugliest parts of our stories.
Surely, you’ve had this happen at least once. Believe me, I have on many occasions. Not surprisingly, my vulnerability had the propensity to take me out for days. As an introvert, I was left feeling extremely exposed, naked even. Shame would sneak in and snuggle close, trying to befriend me. At the light of day, I’d shut the door, turn off my phone, and crawl into my hidey-hole.
If only, I’d kept my big mouth shut.
Seemingly knocking me out for the count, I felt deeply defeated and utterly deflated. Unfortunately, this was a repetitive cycle in my life. Throughout my twenties, into my thirties and beyond, developing healthy friendships was a struggle. I fought hard, but continued to feel beat down in this area of adulthood. Until one day, I’d had enough. Finally, I learned to stand tall in the Truth. I mean, it was my truth, my reality, and there was no reason to hide from it.
Can you relate? Have you felt this gnawing feeling too?
At best, building friendships left me wondering if being vulnerable was worth the risk for deeper, more intimate relationships. Most days, I wasn’t sure.
Reality vs. Truth
There’s a difference. Reality is honest, but it’s not necessarily the Truth. Reality can be changed and altered in a moment’s notice. However, truth is constant, unwavering. Yes, there’s a fine line in distinguishing the two; but they are quite different.
After a night of tossing and turning, replaying conversations over in my head, all seems lost. I wake up thinking I’m not enough or worse, I’m too much. Before my feet hit the floor, the enemy of my soul is blaring on the loud-speaker far worse than my husband’s obnoxious alarm. It’s more than I can manage. And, all I want to do is cover my head with a sheet and pray I didn’t embarrass myself too badly.Undeniably, over-sharing leaves us feeling raw and flawed. But, there's hope. Learning how to overcome a 'vulnerability hangover' with the Truth is a necessary skill for navigating relationships.Click To Tweet
For years, vulnerability was hands-down my kryptonite in relationship building.
I longed for girlfriends to share my life with, grab a coffee, or call in a time of need. Usually after multiple attempts of what I like to call ‘cautious sharing,’ I would spill the beans. Inevitably, I’d tell my story. That’s the point of relationship, right? Then, almost immediately, I’d feel the effects of saying too much. If you don’t know, it’s an awful feeling.
What does over-sharing feel like? How does it manifest?
Overcoming ‘Vulnerability Hangovers‘ (coined by Brené Brown in her TED talk in 2010) is necessary if we want to lead a productive, meaningful life. Dare I say, a confident one? But, when reality has us running away from relationships time and again, something has to change.
Vulnerability keeps us on the run
“Instead of running from reality, we overcome when we chase down the Truth.” ~ Amy Elaine Martinez
We all have times where we’re tempted to run…run….run away, as far as we are able and as fast as we can. However running rarely solves the issue. At some point, we have to stop and allow ourselves to be caught. Caught in the Truth that is constant and held by the One who redeems our stories. Where being vulnerable and the reality of our story has caused shame, Truth allows us to come out of hiding and see the face of God.
When the morning after demands double-duty from us, I’ve learned to pull my boots on and fight all hell to stand my ground. The enemy expects us to listen when he says, “Why in the world did you share that part of your story…everyone’s gonna know before week’s end…do you realize what you’ve done?”
The Voice of a ‘Vulnerability Hangover’
Sound familiar? It’s exactly what Brené Brown describes when she explains how it feels when we put ourselves out there (wherever that is) with people. Whether we know them well or are trying to go to the next level, the potential for that sick feeling the next morning is real. Often, when we’ve shared our story, connected with someone on a new or deeper level, or vomited all the ugly details of our given situation, we are left feeling raw and flawed.
One day, we’re filled with excitement at our latest or greatest victory. And, in the next breath, all that remains is the pressure of how truly ugly and messy our journey was to get there. This is our moment of Truth, especially when our expectations fall short of the outcome we are currently experiencing. Reality sets in and we wind up deflated instead of elated.
What’s a girl to do when she thinks she’s said too much?
When we’ve shared our stories in an attempt to build relationship, this is the time we must remember how:
- far we‘ve come
- to get back up
- to face the day
If reality is making you want to run away and hide, I want you to know there’s hope.
Hagar’s story, in Genesis 16, offers us the hope we need to overcome our worst vulnerability hangover and stand tall in the Truth. Remarkably, the Truth is: we are known, seen, and heard by God. Moreover, God loves and accepts us too. Yes, all that and more.
Hagar’s story teems with shame, regret, resentment, and rejection. Without a doubt, that’s a whole lot to deal with. Regrettably, we can all relate; we’ve all lived through and felt those awful feelings on some level. Through no fault of her own, we find Hagar in the middle of a messy debacle. After being given (by Sarai) to Abram, Hagar slept with him as part of fulfilling her duty. She obeyed to the fullest extent. Now, she’s pregnant and paying for it. She’s been demoted and demoralized. Furthermore, Sarai’s punishment will prove more than she can bear.
So Sarai clamped down on Hagar severely, and Hagar ran away. Genesis 16:6 (*emphasis mine, this is precisely how the enemy makes us feel before we run away from God’s provision, peace, and promises)
Hagar runs away from her horrible situation. Blinded by her tears, she couldn’t see God in her miserable mess. Aren’t we guilty of the same? Fearfully and unknowingly, she runs right into the arms of God.
Sweet friend, are you wondering if God really sees you?
I assure you, He does. Interestingly, the Bible doesn’t say what time of day Hagar chose to run away. But, my guess is that she left in the dark of night. After enduring another day of Sarai’s verbal abuse, all of her blaming and shaming, Hagar probably couldn’t take one more minute. Usually, when we’ve had enough, it’s time to do something different. Perhaps, it had been a last straw kind of day. Waiting until everyone else was asleep, I imagine, Hagar tiptoed out of the tent and ran for her life through the dead of night.
Darkness is the enemy’s trademark. The enemy wins half the battle by somehow managing to get us in the dark, isolated and alone. It is vitally important to not allow our vulnerability hangovers to keep us locked away, literally or figuratively. Learning to identify the schemes of the enemy helps in navigating this nasty morning afters. I learned this the hard way. After shutting down and being knocked out too many times to count, now, I quickly recognize his M.O., (modus operandi).
For the love, don’t be like me. Learn from this message and get back up as fast as you can.
The Special Messenger of the the Eternal One found Hagar alone by a spring of water out in the desert. Genesis 16:7
The aftermath of being vulnerable, not only sends us running, but also, makes us desperate to hide.
Under a tree, God finds Hagar fast asleep with a tear-stained face and even more soiled reputation. I imagine she woke up feeling really raw, faithless and flawed, very vulnerable and exposed.
Suddenly, she heard a voice.
In her sleepiness, she may have mistaken this for the voice of vulnerability. But, unbeknownst to her, this was the Voice of God.
He said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” Genesis 16:8a
Unbelievably, Hagar’s morning seems to go from bad to worse. Not only is she faced with the reality of her hasty decision; now, she has this strange man asking her questions before she’s had her first cup of coffee. Seriously, that’s a no-no at my house. No questions before coffee. Period.
In reality, Hagar’s reality is revving up to be her best day ever! What she thought was just a natural place to rest became her supernatural place of redemption. I love this part of the story because it reminds me that God knows my name. He knew Hagar’s and God knows your name too! God calls her by name and asks her straightforward questions. This time, there’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. Instead of answering the stranger’s questions, she spills the beans, tells her story, and vomits the ugly truth with no thought whatsoever. (I love her so much for this moment right here!)
To be honest, I think she wanted to make sure God knew her punisher’s name too. Regardless of what she had done, Hagar wanted it to be abundantly clear that Sarai had done her wrong. For sure and certain, Blame and Shame are fast friends. Hagar had no idea where she was going and had absolutely no Plan A or B. She just puts it all out there.
Immediately, the Special Messenger says, “Hagar, go back to your mistress, and change your attitude. Be respectful and listen to her instruction. You’re pregnant, and you need to go home. Trust me…” Genesis 16:9-10
When in doubt, God asks us, “Where are you going?”
Then, God tells her the answer to both His questions. Where has she come from and where is she going? Same answer…home. Unexpectedly, He offers her mercy and answers her questions. God extends the grace she needs in order to muster up the grit it will take to make the journey back there.
At this point, Hagar understands, “A person may plan his own journey, but the LORD directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
Feeling lost and alone and probably a little rebuked at this point, I bet the last place she wanted to go was back home. Yet, God lovingly directs her path because He knows we can’t run away from our problems; inevitably, they follow us. Fortunately, God shows up there too. He always meets us there. Though God never promises life will be easy, He meets our deepest needs in the midst of it all. Hagar’s deepest need was to be seen.
She’d been looked down on, but never truly seen.
With her deepest need met, a fresh courage was birthed within, enabling her to go home and work it out with her oppressor. Because she’s brave enough to trust God, her obedience brings His outcome. Through this encounter, Hagar came to know the name of the God who’d seen her in her misery, El Roi.
She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the ‘God who sees me,’ ” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13
In spite of her hiding, she was seen. This is my favorite part of Hagar’s story, the redemption of it all. She calls Him by name. And, you can call Him by this same name because it’s true. The Truth of your reality is this: God watches over you. He catches every tear in a bottle and knows your name. Like Hagar, though in rebellion and far from home, however embarrassed you may be because of your actions, or words, or story, God is calling you out of hiding. El Roi, the God who sees you, sees you the morning after. In all our misery, God watches over our greatest battles. He always has a loving eye upon us.
Yes, sweet girl, vulnerability is worth the risk.
The reality is God sees us; He’s looking at us with the most beautiful, loving eyes known to man. Even on our worst days, He is trustworthy. Even when we’ve said too much, He is our Protector. And, even when all we want to do is RUN and HIDE, God directs our paths and brings us into the spacious places of His love. He will not only carry the load, but God’s love will carry the day. You know, the one you’re facing right now and even the mornings with the meanest vulnerability hangover ever.
Yet God’s loyal love will protect me and carry the day! Psalm 52:1b
Though we cannot see Him now, one day we will. Ultimately, our raw and flawed moments of vulnerability are truly God-moments revealing the face of God.
The Lord looks down in love, bending over heaven’s balcony. God looks over all of Adams’s sons and daughters. Psalm 53:2
Our obedience brings His outcome. Let’s let His love win the day!
Prayer: “But in the day that I’m afraid, I lay all my fears before you and trust in you with all my heart. You’ve kept track of all my wandering and weeping. You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle ~not one will be lost. You cared about me every time I’ve cried. For it is all recorded in your book of remembrance. The very moment I call to you for a Father’s help the tide of battle turns and my enemies flee!
This one thing I know: God is on my side! I trust in the Lord. And I praise him! I trust in the Word of God. And I praise Him. What harm can man do to me? With God on my my side I will not be afraid of what comes. My heart overflows with praise to God for his promises. I will always trust in him. So I’m thanking you with all my heart, with gratitude for all you’ve done. I will do everything I’ve promised you Lord.” Psalm 56:3, 8-12 (TPT)
Finally, I recommend reading all of Psalm 56 in The Passion Translation.
*This post was adapted from an original post, Raw & Flawed: Revealing the Face of God, originally published on AmyElaine.com in May 2017.
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