I vowed when I got my wedding china that it would not sit in my cabinet. Such beauty was never meant to be hidden away for special occasions. I promised myself I would enjoy it often and celebrate every day. No plate would be too sacred for pizza, no cup meant only for company. This conviction lived in full color and fervent passion up until the point I realized that wedding china needs to be washed by hand. My prettiest dishes spend a lot of time in the cabinet now.
Some of us keep our most beautiful thoughts, impressive scars, and honest words tucked away safe and sound. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that friends can think aloud together. For all of the alluring freedom of thinking aloud with someone else, that kind of honesty makes us vulnerable. Though gilded in beauty and power, vulnerability (by definition!) means there is a chance we might get hurt. It feels unfair that our choice to be the “real us” could be met with misunderstanding, disagreement, or judgment. If we want to be fearless and vulnerable at the same time we have to be wise with our gift of intimacy, purposeful about our risk, and appropriate with our words.
Be WISE about when, where, and with whom you choose to be vulnerable
“Be Authentic with all, Transparent with most, Vulnerable with some, and Intimate with few.” –Beth Moore
We should have different levels of vulnerability with different people. Do not be too eager to think aloud with everyone, friendship requires trust and patience. I know many people who have been too eager to express their true selves and were met with hurtful responses from others. You can be your true self on a transparent level with everyone but still protect the privacy and intimacy of your most personal thoughts and opinions for those who love you best.
Be PURPOSEFUL when you risk being vulnerable
The goal of being honest and open with each other is not to dig for our friend’s secrets or divulge every piece of our dirt as though we were self-producing our own reality TV show. We are after fearless friendship. We will slowly, over time, get to know the real essence of our friends and be known by them, unashamed and unafraid. This may leave us more vulnerable, but it also gives us opportunities to speak truth more powerfully to one another, to grow before each other’s eyes, and to experience the uncomfortable joy of being known.
Friends who enjoy soul intimacy never settle for gossip or simple information exchange. Instead they use the data of events as springboards for the sharing of feelings, perceptions, values, ideas and opinions. – David Benner, Sacred Companions
Be APPROPRIATE with your words
The invitation to think aloud with a friend can come with a temptation to vent frustrations, anger, and self-justification. Being honest does not free you from your responsibility to control your self.
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. –Proverbs 29:11
As you share what is on your mind with your friends ask yourself: Is this something I will regret saying later? Could this be considered gossip? Is this a weight my friend needs to hold with me? You can always take your full, unedited emotions to God in prayer. Just because you can think freely with your friends does not always mean you should. Sometimes it is wise, and loving, to hold back.
Go bravely, boldly, and fearlessly into vulnerable friendship. When the risk of honesty is made with wisdom, for the purpose of friendship, and with appropriate self-control you will embrace the power of vulnerable friendships in their most beautiful form.
Fearless Hearts in Action: An invitation to invest 15 minutes in yourself on your journey to Fearless Friendship
- Let’s air out some of that “wedding china”. Grab a favorite glass and pour yourself a beverage.
- As you sip and enjoy, think about your conversations with your friends over the past week. Where could you have been more honest? Where could guarding your words have been wise?
- Think of opportunities you will have in the coming week to talk with friends.
- If you do not have any time with friends scheduled for your next 10 days, invite someone to get together or schedule a phone call to chat.
- Be purposeful about sharing your thoughts, ideas, opinions or dreams. Try your best to “think aloud” in a way that invests in the friendship, is in line with the intimacy of the relationship, and you will not later regret.
- Go practice showing up, being yourself, and listening to see and hear your friend’s thoughts, ideas and dreams as well.
Pulling out the china is a lot of work, but it is a delicate treasure that feels like an honor to hold. Even the most exhausted mamas need a break from our paper plates. Disposable friendships may feel easier, but getting honest with one another and taking the courageous leap of fearless vulnerability in our most precious relationships will leave us feeling like a china-teacup-drinking-princess…in yoga pants who needs a shower.
I can’t believe we are already through day 4 of our 5 part series, Fearless Friendship. Tomorrow we will leave one another thinking about Fearless Hope. See you then!