Living Wholeheartedly: Embracing the Freedom of Vulnerability

Wholehearted living and vulnerability

Ever feel like you aren’t enough? I know I do. I can’t get enough sleep, exercise, laundry folded, water drunk, time praying, people served, inches off my hips, encouraging words spoken, or hugs wrapped around my kids. Just plain not enough. All this “not enough” leaves me feeling like a failure on my best days and ashamed on my worst.

Yesterday, while attending the Blissdom conference for women bloggers, I had the chance to hear Brené Brown speak on the topic of vulnerability and living wholeheartedly. It was supposed to be about writing, but it was really about life.

Brené is the author of The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. She is also a research professor at the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston in the area of vulnerability, authenticity, courage, and shame. She is a mother, a wife, and Episcopalian, and a Texan. She is our people.

Brené recently spoke at one of the TED conferences on the topic of vulnerability. The video went viral. Friends, trust me. It is absolutely worth the 20 minutes it will take for you to be encouraged and inspired. Watch this.

Brené illuminated what we already know intuitively. Vulnerability scares the socks off of us. We are terrified to feel the uncertainty and the fear inherent in vulnerability.

Being vulnerable threatens to expose how lacking and unworthy we really are. So most of us, myself included, try to avoid it. We pretend we have it together.

Unfortunately, vulnerability is inseparably connected from our capacity to experience joy, creativity, love. When we banish vulnerability, we forsake our hearts, the “wellspring of life.”

I was struck as she explained that most of us think that we must meet a list of prerequisites to feel worthy of love and belonging. They are something we must earn and something we know we will never be able to earn. Shame is our only response.

Brené suggests that the opposite of living from a place of shame and not-enough-ness is living wholeheartedly—to live and love with our whole heart.

Though Brene doesn’t talk about this specifically, I think the journey to living wholeheartedly is one of learning to see ourselves the way that God sees us, through the lens of immeasurable love. This enables us to accept the spectrum of our whole personhood, not just the pretty, well-kempt parts.

In order to break the chains of shame, we must telling our stories, according to Brené. Lies cannot exist in light, only in darkness. Telling our stories brings freedom, and freedom is better than security.

Let’s commit to telling our true stories—to being seen—whether on our blogs, to our friends, or to ourselves. Let’s risk vulnerability and embrace joy.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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7 thoughts on “Living Wholeheartedly: Embracing the Freedom of Vulnerability

  1. This is so true. I fight, sometimes many times a day, with the belief that I am failing. I am not enough- for my husband, my children, but especially my God. I believe it is definitely Satan wanting me to feel worthless, so worthless in fact that I won’t even approach my God in prayer. I am ashamed of my mistakes and failures.

    What I have to remember is that the ONLY reason I am worthy of Christ is because HE said so! He has made me worthy of His love and eternal salvation by HIS acts, not mine! No matter how far I fall in a moment, He will always be here to help me get back up. I just have to ask.

    Oh, and I try to look each day at what I HAVE accomplished, not what has been left behind. It makes it easier to go to bed! ;-)

  2. Thanks for so beautifully summarizing this session and including the TED video. This was by far my favorite experience in all of Blissdom. I’m grateful I got to see you there! Praying for you with great anticipation and joy – believing wholeheartedly God’s best is ahead for the Miller family.

  3. Thanks for sharing. 2 thoughts.
    1. We can’t fully experience God’s love until we do it in vulnerability. Until we approach him without trying to prove ourselves or bring some self derived righteoussness
    2. God has fashioned each one of us. I was not made to be somebody else. I was made to be me. I can, and hopefully, experience sanctification where I become more like God, but I was not made to be anyone else.

  4. Megan:
    Great post, I’ve had it sitting in my browser now for a week. Being vulnerable, at least in ways others can see, is something I know is part of the human experience. Yet, it is a part of the experience I stand apart from. It is a part I need to change, even at my stage of life (I’m one of those over 50s). I think I’m going to be exploring more of Brene Brown’s work. Thank you.