It was September 18, 2013 and I stared at my computer screen. Panic set in as I prepared to click “send.” My blog had been live for days…I just hadn’t told anyone. Staying mysterious about what was going on in my head (and life, for that matter) had become my M.O. The last thing I wanted was for my day-to-day happenings to be broadcasted to the cyberspace world. Opening up? I was not exactly keen on the idea.
However, I had been sensing over the past few weeks that God was giving me the nudge to share my story. Despite my “closed book” personality, I chose a domain name, started a WordPress site, and began typing out my innermost thoughts to be exposed for anyone to see.
On the afternoon of September 18th, I finally clicked send on the email informing some friends of my blog’s URL and held my breath in silence, as if a bomb was about to explode. Nothing happened. However, throughout the day texts, emails, and blog notifications began to rush in. Realizing my openness was now a reality, my anxiety continued to amp up and I wanted to shrink back into a hole. I was more comfortable hiding behind the façade of “masculinity.” Why did I ever think it was a good idea to let people know what was going on in my head?
After realizing getting vulnerable would not be the end of the world, posting on the blog each Wednesday began to get easier. Four months later I realize that acting in obedience (however begrudgingly) and kicking off Flat On My Back was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The more I opened up, whether it be through sharing my struggles of acclimating to a new lifestyle, the frustration of being completely dependent on others, or the journey God has taken me on of finding purpose in the midst of suffering, the more vulnerable others began to get with me as well. Old friends, current friends, and even complete strangers began opening up via email. Relationships formed that I never could have fathomed. As a result of letting people in, emails like the following examples began to pour into my inbox:
“I have some spinal problems and lupus and have recently started using a chair. I’m still trying to figure out who I am without my old career. I want a purpose. I have gotten so much more reliant on God than myself lately, so emotionally I am healed, but physically I need a miracle. I don’t feel like God has forgotten me, but that I am facing this to somehow give him glory. But it is hard to remember that some days, when everything seems stacked against me.”
“Today marks 6 years since my spinal cord injury and I have not gotten to talk to many people in our situation. I have an 8 year old son that lives across the country and I am hoping one day to move closer to him but as you can imagine the move has been difficult. I just want to make this move a reality to be closer to my son. I miss him terribly.”
“I recently fell into a dark place in my life. When I needed my friends and more importantly my BEST friend; there was no one there. The feeling I had was so lonely and to be honest I was scared….trapped almost. I hit rock bottom and I was lost. My family and others have been behind me and very supportive and I am now on my way to a MUCH better life. Through this ordeal I have found a closer relationship with God and my faith has never been this strong.”
Galatians 6:2 makes it clear that Jesus wants us to carry one another’s burdens. Through sharing my struggles with others, I’ve gotten feedback detailing emotional and physical battles including depression, cancer, dementia, loss of loved ones, sexual abuse, drug abuse, and the list goes on. I have been blown away by the interactions, conversations, and relationships that have taken place as a result of stepping out on a limb and getting vulnerable. I never could have envisioned God using this platform to open up such richness in conversation and relationship.
There is just something different about an email stating, “Nice blog,” versus one containing intimate life details. I believe we all have a deep longing to get beneath surface level conversations about sports, work, current events, or the weather. Everyone has something hidden beneath the surface that, once unearthed, gives a little glimpse into who they actually are. What’s the one thing in your life that no one knows about? What’s the one dream you’ve kept to yourself, in fear it does not become reality? Who are you being open with?