Read Below...or Listen here!
I’d like to share an intimate story with you about a recent vulnerable experience I had. Vulnerability is such difficult action to commit to. It isn’t easy to share your deepest emotions with someone you care about, let alone a complete stranger. Especially if you feel like you’re on the verge of rejection.
About four years ago, I was re-united with my ex-boyfriend from when I was 16 years old. In fact, he was my first boyfriend. He was my first everything. The one I lost my virginity to, the one I fell in love with but didn’t believe he loved me back. But I loved the idea of dating him. He was a Christian. And at that time, I had just recently found the Lord and fell madly in love with Jesus. I thought, how perfect. We both loved the Lord. Me and this guy.
Okay… for the sake of his privacy and comic relief, let’s call this character Rueben. It’s not his real name. His name is so plain that his high school Spanish teacher named him Rueben to make him feel like he was cool.
Back to the story. So there we were, me and Rueben, lol. Well, we got a little side-tracked in our relationship and got lost in ourselves. We slept together, emotionally hurt each other, and eventually broke up. We tried to mend things our first year in college but decided to just go our separate ways.
Twenty years later, I received an unexpected email from Rueben. I was sitting around just catching up on reality TV, and heard my email ding. I opened it and saw his name. I was shocked and taken back a bit. I was afraid to open it. But I did. To my surprise it was nice.
”Hey there. Just randomly saw you on a mutual friend’s page. Thought I’d write and see what’s been going on. It’s been forever. Looks like you are doing well. I moved to Atlanta a few years ago and I’m liking it. Can’t remember what terms we are on, lol, so I’ll write more later if you’re there. Get back to me when you have a minute.
I paused and thought… I think I hate him. I associated Rueben with pain and a list of horrible things locked in my mind. Memories started flooding back and I was reminded of how “damaged” I felt. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to respond. I shared this with my co-worker. She said, you have two choices. You can either blow him off, or see what God is up to. If you engage in conversation… Make sure it’s honest. If you’re going to talk to him… then just go for it. Lay it all out on the table. So I called him. After five hours of a heart-felt, mature conversation, I realized I hurt him too. I did things that caused damage in his life. I wasn’t the only victim here. We both apologized for things that were said and done to each other. But the sweetest moment was when he said, “Keri, I am sorry if I ever derailed you from your faith.” I said I was sorry too. In that moment, the bad memories that I held on to for years just faded away. We both experienced the sweetness of forgiveness. That night, Rueben and I started a new friendship. It’s been one of the most fascinating God moments in my life. Rueben has become one of my most trusted friends and confidant. We visit each other in our home towns, enjoy good food and deep conversation. We help each other see how our pasts have shaped us, and how to work through some of those old rusted nails in our stories.
After about three years of molding a new friendship between us, I hit a wall. An emotional wall. My walls are pretty thick and concrete. But somehow, Rueben got in through a crack. These new feelings have been swirling around in my heart. Am I just lonely? Maybe it’s the family life I crave? I’m tired of being single. I’m ready for a new chapter in my life. Or, maybe I really do like him. Maybe I like him beyond a friendship. But I don’t want my love-life story to go this way. There must be someone else out there. Someone who will sweep me off my feet and romance me. Hold my hand, and kiss me on my forehead. Someone who understands my love languages, which I have all of them! Buy me a present, play with my hair, and clean my bathroom! I can’t see Rueben doing any of those things for me…except clean my bathroom and maybe my laundry. But honestly, I want romance. The whole fairy tale. But then God reminded me of the struggles I’ve had in the past. My struggle with trust. I don’t really trust anyone, except my parents and siblings and a very small handful of friends…very small handful. That’s it. Sounds like a lonely un-trusting world, but it’s true. I started thinking about all of my conversations with Rueben. And this truth entered my head. “I trust him.” I can honestly say he would never intentionally hurt me. I trust Rueben with my heart. I love this friendship but I am feeling something more.
I decided that I would tell him. I had to. I was turning into a lunatic! Not to see if he liked me back, but to be honest and let him know how I was feeling. Vulnerability. Of course, I took the easy way out and spoke in code. Well, I don’t know how to talk to men and I didn’t realize they don’t understand female code. After an hour of back and forth… I had to blurt it out. I told him I wasn’t sure I understood what I was feeling but it was more than friends. He responded with…
I’ll leave that cliff-hanger there…
Just kidding, we ended up talking through it which made our friendship even stronger. After I sorted out my feelings, I realized that God has Rueben and I exactly where He wants us… as friends. My lunatic thoughts faded away.
Then God spoke to me… ‘You are still mine, Keri.’ And He led me to a song to remind me that He is faithful and true. You can have a listen below.
I share this with you because I realized that vulnerability pulled me away from Jesus 20 years ago, but it’s vulnerability that drew me back to Him. I have lots of stories that I want to share with you. But in order for me to share them, I needed you to feel my vulnerability a bit through my story with Rueben.
Photo credit: http://www.sarahbridgemanphoto.com