When It’s Hard to Be Vulnerable

Amber Ginter

iBelieve Contributing Writer
Updated Nov 01, 2023
When It’s Hard to Be Vulnerable

Friend, there's strength in revealing your weaknesses. There's victory in releasing your pain.

It was a dreary Friday afternoon. Summer was turning into fall, and my mood matched the leaves outside my window; crumpling to the ground like discarded pieces no longer needed. It had been a rough week at work. I felt like a human punching bag, and no more uppercuts were available for my reply. 

Sinking into the cool comforter beneath my bosom, I shuddered. My husband had asked me three days in a row what was wrong, but I kept telling him I was fine. If you're a male reading this, you know when a woman says "Everything is fine," it certainly isn't. But I didn't feel like talking. I wasn't getting hurt. Again

Hidden Wounds Only Fester and Grow

Earlier that week, Ben had pointed out some truths about my mental health. He felt my anxiety and depression weren't getting any better and wondered if I should reconsider medication. I was livid. Hurt. Frustrated. Wounded. Agitated. Annoyed. Confused. Instead of listening to his gentle advice and correction, I shrank back and pulled myself within. I ignored the fact that hidden wounds only fester and grow. 

Three days, I'd kept my agony bottled up inside. Part of me desperately wanted to tell him. My insides were bleeding, begging to talk to the one I'd become one flesh with. But I was stubborn. Hurting. Aching. Too afraid to get hurt again. Too afraid to admit that I might really need help. Too afraid to consider that he might be right. Until that night. 

The Reality of Drinking Poison

Ben had gone down to the kitchen for a snack and I told him I was going to go to bed. The unstated expectation, however, was that I was going to have a panic and anxiety attack, and desperately wanted him to comfort me. I never said those words. Obviously, when he found me crying an hour later, he didn't understand why I hadn't called for him. I had. In my mind. Not in audible voices.

As we prayed, I asked God why the darkness wouldn't lift. I didn't hear His reply. Yet, I knew Ben was a gift from God to me at that moment. Running his hand over the small of my back as I confessed all the anger, embarrassment, pride, shame, and fear I'd held back the last three days, it erupted like a volcano. An ugly array of lava sprayed from side to side as I heaved in sobs and trembled. Because the reality of drinking poison is that we're only hurting ourselves. Bottling up how we really feel and keeping it inside helps no one. 

The Victory of Releasing Our Pain

After two hours, I felt I could finally breathe. I'd let the real and raw emotion out: I was open to medication, but not ready. I was open to hearing his concerns, but scared. I saw his validations but did feel I had been making some progress. We came to the consensus that it was okay. We came to the realization that when he'd snapped those words at me earlier that week, it was just poor timing. He'd spoken without truly thinking. I'd responded without really hearing

While my marriage (of almost 4 months!) is far from perfect, I will say that it exemplifies the love and relationship I believe Christ Jesus wants us to have with Him. At this moment, and in this circumstance, it was particularly revealed to me how much Christ desires us to hold nothing back from Him. To spill our hearts even when we feel they are ugly. To talk to Him when we're hurting. To listen to His gentle corrections for our lives and not sulk away in anger, fear, or embarrassment. 

My husband and I have made up since this cool Friday in September. We made a pact that I would never keep my deepest wounds from him, even if I was hurting. I was dismayed when I found him earlier this week in our bathroom, arms crossed, trembling as he held back tears from himself and me. 

There's a common misconception in our world that men can't or shouldn't share their feelings. There's an even larger stigma that they don't suffer from mental health issues like anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or even eating disorders. Since I am a faith and mental health writer, Ben knew he could talk to me about what he was experiencing. But at this moment, the lies in his mind got too loud. He believed he shouldn't share anything with me. He needed to be strong. He needed to provide. 

Friend, there's strength in revealing your weaknesses. There's victory in releasing your pain. And the only way to achieve either is to let them out. 

Christ desires us to share our burdens, including the pieces we pick and prod at, with those who care. That includes our spouse, and it most certainly should include God. 

A Call to Be Vulnerable 

If I'm honest, the night I fell apart in September broke my heart, but the night I saw my husband trying to conceal his deepest groanings alone broke my spirit. 

Husbands with wives. 

Friends with families. 

Congregations with their churches. 

Children (us) with our God (Jesus Christ)

None should feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell what they are going through. None should feel that they have to do this walk in life concealed, hidden, and alone. Christ never called us to hide or walk alone. 

Human beings are not perfect. There will be times you'll learn who cares about what you're experiencing, and who's just curious. There will be people you shouldn't talk to about your struggles and others who are better fits. But God is always listening. Always present. Always caring. Never changing. Never embarrassing you. Never shaming you just because you struggle. He's calling you to be vulnerable. Being married has taught me this. Not only in my relationship with my husband but in my relationship with God. I don't know who needs to hear these words today, but please don't keep your trauma, pain, and mental health struggles buried deep inside. Doing so is only asking for the pot to boil over, or the bomb to explode. 

God wants us to come to Him. To tell Him our stories. At times, He may refine us in the fire. He might point out paths we need to go on but are too scared to embrace. He might correct us. But never without love. Never without direction. Never without grace. Never without truth. 

Ben and I have made vows to each other and to God. #1 that we won't keep things from each other that we're struggling with, and #2 that we won't keep things from God. Bringing things to the light—talking about, embracing, and confessing them—is the only way to heal. Even when it's hard to be vulnerable. Even when it's hard to be real. 

What steps can you take to embrace healing today? How can I pray for you?

Agape, Amber 

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images

amber ginter headshotAmber Ginter is a teacher-turned-author who loves Jesus, her husband Ben, and granola. Growing up Amber looked for faith and mental health resources and found none. Today, she offers hope for young Christians struggling with mental illness that goes beyond simply reading your Bible and praying more. Because you can love Jesus and still suffer from anxiety. You can download her top faith and mental health resources for free to help navigate books, podcasts, videos, and influencers from a faith lens perspective. Visit her website at amberginter.com.