My husband likes to joke that I stalked him and he saw me hiding in the bushes. Literally, that has NEVER happened. Metaphorically though, I probably go into hiding more often than I even realize. Vulnerability is scary!
I haven’t tried too hard to hide my vulnerabilities on this blog (I’ve written about it here, and here), but even so, many of them remain hidden. Vulnerability hurts. And who of us really wants to show our brokenness?
We all have some level of brokenness though. Even if you can’t think of any negative events in your past, your own sinful nature creates a cycle of “naked, afraid, and hiding.” We simply all fall into that cycle. We can even read the first instance of this as early as the third chapter of the Bible. When Adam and Eve decided to eat the forbidden fruit, they were immediately aware of their own brokenness and vulnerability. They were scared of God, even though they had walked with him before this moment. Instead of facing Him, they covered themselves with leaves and hid in the bushes.
While the message of Adam and Eve is certainly specifically about the fall of man, there is a lesson that goes even beyond the fall – when we’re aware of our vulnerability, we become fearful and want to hide.
Marriage is a great way to learn how vulnerable you are!
The Christian marriage is a unique relationship. Scripture tells us that “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” God has uniquely designed marriage as one of the ways that two Christians can sharpen one another and make each other a little more Christ-like.
My husband does this well. He can and will point it out to me when I get too busy with tasks to focus on relationship. He’ll let me know when I neglect working on our marriage because I’m too over-focused on others. Jacob is really good at calming me down when I get too anxious with worries about “what might be,” and when I begin to let my past trauma and beliefs about myself negatively impact me (or us). He is good for me because he highlights my vulnerabilities without even meaning to. And he’s pretty gentle about it, which is incredibly important to me.
You get to choose how you handle your vulnerability.
Adam and Eve chose to cover themselves and hide in the bushes when sin exposed their vulnerability. In fact, they stayed in that place of hiding until God called them out of it. When my husband calls out my vulnerabilities (which often times happens by accident), I have to decide if I’ll run and hide, or face him and talk about them.
For example, I often feel a need to be in control and in charge. Take a wild guess how effective this attitude is in marriage. Sometimes, I think that I’m doing really well as a wife and feel like I’ve become the Proverbs 31 woman. If he points out anything I’ve done wrong, I can get a little defensive. Again…not effective in marriage.
When a time comes that my husband needs to lovingly point out a weakness in my own life (either purposely or accidentally), I’m in a place of decision. Will I run and hide? “I’m right and he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” Or, will I decide to stay with him in that place, listen well, and change any behaviors that are causing a problem for us?
You have the same opportunity anytime you are sitting in a place of vulnerability and brokenness. Will you make the choice to metaphorically cover yourself and hide, or stand in the open, exposed to your spouse? Hiding is definitely the easy way. But, exposing your vulnerability is the only way to give your spouse the opportunity to walk into those fearful places with you.
God brings healing for our vulnerability.
God doesn’t just use marriage as a way for us to sharpen one another. In his grace and goodness, God uses marriage as a way to bring us healing. I can think of several times that Jacob has been a Christ-like presence for me when I’ve shown him my fears. When he loves me beyond my imperfections, he’s loving me the way God has called him to.
Do you know what your spouse looks like in the cycle of naked, afraid, hiding? Does it look like abandonment, fear, anger, sadness, or a general meanness? Maybe your spouse just isn’t great at loving you well. All of those are a picture of brokenness and vulnerability. You have to decide, will you “run and hide” when your vulnerabilities are shown or will you stay? Will you choose to become more Christ-like by loving fully when your spouse shows a vulnerability?
While there are exceptions to “loving fully” in cases of abuse, generally speaking, Christians are called to love like Christ loved us. Our aim should be to allow ourselves to stand naked and unashamed (both literally and metaphorically) in front of our spouse while allowing them to do the same.
God bless you, your marriage, and your intimacy!