How vulnerable is too vulnerable?

Considering my last two blog titles have been in the form of questions I guess you could say I've been asking a lot of questions lately. I tend to be a 'question asker' by nature. It helps me learn and process. If you've ever met me you can probably confirm that I like to ask questions. Hopefully it's a good thing more than it is an annoying thing.

I've been in a season lately in which I feel a little extra vulnerable. A little more broken than usual. I mean we're all broken right? But some days the 'broken meter' seems to be higher than others. And when the broken meter is high, I struggle with this question... How vulnerable should I be? How much should I share? How much CAN I share without turning into a complainer? 

Here's one conclusion I've come to recently... I don't think we (as Christians) do a very good job at allowing each other to be vulnerable. Why? Because we don't ask. We don't dig. We only ask the easy questions. We just assume that everything is all good. At least sometimes I do. Can you relate? 

When was the last time you asked a friend how their weight loss journey was going? 

When was the last time you asked a friend how their marriage was going? 

When was the last time you asked a friend in a dating relationship how they were handling the "physical stuff"? 

When was the last time you asked a friend what they're passionate about? What keeps them up at night? 

When was the last time you asked a friend who just adopted how they were feeling? 

I know these are hard questions to ask (and maybe even to answer) but if we want the people in our lives to be vulnerable with us, and us with them, then we have to ASK. And if you find the courage to ask, brace yourself. Because the friend who you thought had a perfect marriage, probably doesn't. And the family you thought had it all together, well, they're probably a mess. And the friend who struggles with food addiction, well she's probably just waiting for someone to believe she can do it. 

In my life I've only had a small handful of friends who've asked me the hard questions. Two of them are Greg and Caroline TeSelle. I'm thankful that they didn't choose comfort over conviction. And I'm a better person today because of it. 

May we be the kind of friends who ask the hard questions not because we're nosey but because we care. 

How well do I listen?

This morning I was driving with Cooper to go meet a friend. I was on a two-lane road, in between towns, and there wasn't much to see for miles. Until I saw a man. I saw him from behind, he was walking on the side of the road in a grey sweat-suit and carrying a book-bag on his back. I would've guessed he was in his early twenties. My mind immediately started racing with questions... "Where is he going?""Why is he walking on a road with no sidewalks?" "It's like 25 degrees out, why isn't he wearing anything more than a sweatshirt?" "Should I stop and offer him a ride?".

I was so confused and partially concerned as to why this young man was walking on this long road with no civilization in sight, and in 25 degree weather for that matter. The only thing I could think of was that maybe he was walking to the YMCA but that was still a good five or six miles down the road. I did not immediately stop but as I kept driving I couldn't stop thinking about him. I felt something in my heart whispering "Go pick him up". I argued back. I had my two year old in the car with me. I'm a woman, and a small one at that. I'm on my way to meet a friend and if I turn around I'm going to be late, and I hate being late. This "conversation" went on for a few minutes.

I'm not sure if it was God's whisper or just something in my own head but the prompting wasn't going away and I felt like if it was after all, the voice of the Holy Spirit, then I'd better listen. So now that I was closer to my destination than I was further away, I turned around and drove back towards where I saw the young man walking to see if I could give him a ride.

(For all of you who just went into freak out mode...just keep reading. And listen, when you've lived in the hood of New York City, you're just not scared of people. Not trying to brag, it's just reality. And yes, I would do anything to protect my son. And no, most people are not killers. That's all.)

As soon as I turned around the anxiety over the decision was gone. I just needed to do it. I needed to obey. I drove for a few miles and I didn't see the man. In fact, I never saw the man again. Ugh. Now I was a little frustrated. I just wasted 10 minutes of time and gas for what? I hope the man ended up someplace warm.

As I turned around AGAIN to head back towards where I was meeting my friend I felt God say, "Courtney, sometimes I just need to see if you'll listen." Ouch. 

When it comes to my relationship with God, I'm not always the best listener. Sometimes I pretend like I don't hear Him. And sometimes, honestly, I hear Him and then I say no. Because I'm afraid. Or because I feel like He's asking too much of me. Or because I'm selfish and I just don't want to.

I may have had a mini Abraham and Isaac experience today. And by mini I really do mean TINY. I'm not sure it was ever about giving the man a ride... I think God just wanted to see if I would listen and obey.

May we be great listeners to the one who loves us the most. 

How well do you listen?

You're blessed when...

I read Matthew 5 in The Message version today and it penetrated my heart. Timely words I needed to hear. Hope you don't mind if I share it with you. 

{v. 3-10}

"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule." 

You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the ONE most dear to you. 

You're blessed when you're content with just who you are - no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought. 

You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.

You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being "care-full" you find yourselves being cared for. 

You're blessed when you get your inside world - your heart and your mind - put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. 

You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.

You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom."