Have you ever felt like you were standing right on the edge of something great? It can feel scary to be out there. It is almost like you can see this big cliff you’re standing on.
A few years ago, I visited the Grand Canyon. The beauty and expanse of that place has been seared into my brain and heart. When I first walked up to look over the edge it felt like I was living my own movie. My eyes couldn’t take it in fast enough. I just stood there and stared at the bright colors of the earth, the beauty laid out before me. It shocked me into silence.
In friendship, there are often times to talk about the real stuff of life. The struggles, the darkness in your life that needs to be unearthed. There are times to get vulnerable and let someone in. The beauty of this is that a good friend brings glorious light to that darkness. Sharing takes away some of the power it has over you. The gripping fear can dissipate a bit.
But sharing those parts of you takes courage. Having the courage to speak up, to let someone in, feels like standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon. I can see the expansive beauty that awaits. The possibility of a new light and deeper friendships.
But I can also see the huge risk while my heart is fluttering in anticipation. What if she doesn’t receive it well? What if she brings more pain? What if this changes our friendship for the worse?
You can know someone for years and attend the same functions and do all the friendship type stuff, but if you never share your real self with them, you’ll never know that sweet level of deeper friendship. Vulnerability is scary. So scary, but worth it.
For years, my husband and I have struggled with the life-sucking pain of infertility. There are so many layers to this experience. Fear, sorrow, pain, anger, shame, despair, frustration, just to name a few. It altered our relationship and our life view. When I thought about having children, I never imagined it would involve more pills, doctors visits, invasive tests, prayers, planning, and surgeries than I can count. Not to mention tears.
I won’t ever forget the first time I met someone who was going through the same thing. We were four years in. FOUR YEARS!! Looking back, I cannot believe it took me so long to find someone. How much easier would it have been if I had chosen to jump into vulnerability sooner?
We were standing at a party talking. She was five weeks pregnant and I was almost four months pregnant. She shared so much of her journey with me. Her words just spilled out like water, crashing into my heart with all the beauty and force of a waterfall.
We were strangers up until that moment. We connected over the struggle, journey, joy, and fear of becoming pregnant after so many years of infertility. I could feel the walls coming down. Finally, someone who understood exactly what I felt. We stood in the middle of that party and shared our stories, the years of loneliness melting.
This friendship changed me. Vulnerability does that. It’s part of the beauty. When someone steps out and gets real, it gives permission for others to do the same, and it is life giving. Finding a community of people who understand you, have been there, and can cheer with you and cry with you during difficult, messy stuff, is worth all the scary anxiety of jumping off that cliff and sharing the darkness.
I know that cliff looks scary. I know opening up about the messy parts of life can feel terrifying. But the rewards, the freedom that comes from sharing your life with a friend, it is so sweet. One of the greatest parts about bravely sharing is that it gives permission to everyone around you to do the same.