Friendship Series #9: Friendship Requires Transparent Vulnerability

In our last posts regarding friendship, we have compared friendship to baking a cake using ingredients that are required in order for the cake to rise (and taste good when it’s all said and done) … the outcome of our friendships are the same, needed essential ingredients in order to flourish and have lasting positive impacts on those involved in the friendship. And, now, we come to the last (but not least) ‘ingredient’ that is required for lasting friendship – Transparent Vulnerability.  You can have so many of the other ingredients that we have talked about but, without transparency and vulnerability, the entire cake will turn out sour. Friendships must have transparency and vulnerability coursing through them. That being said, anyone who has been in a relationship with someone else knows that it is hard to be vulnerable and transparent with other people.  Let’s explore some of the reasons that it is hard and then what can be done to overcome it. Then, we’ll see what can come from ensuring that transparent vulnerability is coursing through the relationship.

Vulnerability is not Safe

If you open up your heart to another person, you are taking a massive risk—there is no way around it. When we choose to be vulnerable, perhaps sharing about a sin struggle, perhaps sharing about something that happened to you in the past, or perhaps you stopped protecting something that you have been guarding for a while—then you run the risk of being let down or even devastated. We hope that the other person will not hurt us, but we are unsure. We all have had plenty of times where we have opened up our hearts to someone else to only have them hurt us in return.

Vulnerability is Unnatural

Another aspect to vulnerability is that it does not come naturally to us this side of the Garden. Ever since Adam and Eve chose to sin, man has been trying to cover up what is shameful (in that case their nakedness). We have deeply ingrained in us a desire to cover and protect those parts of us that are sensitive, special, and might cause pain and hurt. Every relationship must realize that, while this is the natural tendency, it must be forsaken.

Place your Faith in Christ not Yourself

So, then, how do you do this? How do you get over the natural desire to protect and be wiling to put yourself in a vulnerable position? You do it by placing your trust in Jesus, not in your friends. When you trust that He will take care of you, that He will guard you; then you are free to love and not worry about being hurt. You are free to talk about the worst and most sensitive parts of your life—to be transparent and vulnerable—because you know that Christ has you in His arms. You will be hurt and your friends will fail you, but you will be truly OK with Christ.

Vulnerability Breeds Growth

When then should we desire that our friends be transparent about what is happening in their life? What is the goal and purpose of it? One of the major ways that vulnerability breeds growth is that you are simply allowing others into your life, which stretches you as a person who loves others more than self, ultimately this allows you to grow to be more like Christ. If you try to do it alone, or pretend like everything is okay when it is not, then you will not grow to be like Him. In order to grow, you will need to be vulnerable.

Vulnerability Cements the Relationship

Another reason that vulnerability is good for relationships is that it cements the friendships more and more, helping it to grow stronger and stronger. The more that you are known and know about your friends, the more you will come to love them and the more you can care for one another. That transparent vulnerability will reveal that all ground is level at the cross and that there is no fear in being open and honest with one another. The more they bring their sin into the light, and the more that you bring yours, the more that it will be handled. All involved will become more like Christ—and all will love and care for each other more.

How to Grow in Vulnerability

The first step to growing in vulnerability is renewing your mind. You will have to choose to believe that good things will come from being transparent and allowing others into your life. The second thing you must do is commit to being transparent, no matter the cost. So often when we are sharing information we are trying to do so in a way that allows us to maintain control, to look good, or otherwise come out on top. You must forsake all that type of acting. Third, you must encourage those you are around to be transparent and vulnerable back. Since this is not natural, we may, from time to time, have to encourage others to work hard on this and encourage them to change their action. Finally, commit to not giving up. Yes, people are going to hurt you, and let you down. But if you want to grow in this way you must choose to not allow the hurt of others to destroy what you believe is valuable.

Conclusion

There is so much more that could be said about what it takes to make a friendship great. For example, we didn’t touch on things like grace and forgiveness. We could have spent time talking about these things as well but the goal was to highlight some areas that may not have been as obvious. As you grow in being a better friend, and spouse, may the grace of our heavenly Father guide you as you seek to show love the way He calls you to.

Joshua M. GreinerJoshua M. Greiner
Josh has been on staff with Faith since 2010. He graduated from Purdue University with a BA in Political Science and from Faith Bible Seminary with a MDiv (2013), The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a ThM In Biblical Counseling (2017) and is pursuing a PhD in Counseling from SBTS as well. He serves as the Pastor of Faith West Ministries. He is married to his wife Shana and they have four children together.