Tagged: vulnerability

Four Reasons I Talk About My Fiancé Behind His Back

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I talk about my fiancé, Grant, behind his back. Sometimes I say good things about Grant; other times I say less-than-good things about Grant. And despite popular belief that this is a big no-no in relationships and marriages, I’d like to give you four reasons for why I feel the need to talk about my fiancé behind his back and why I believe our relationship has been better for it. Maybe by the end, you’ll start wanting to talk about your significant other behind their backs, too.

Four Reasons I Talk About My Fiancé Behind His Back

Reason #1.

Talking about Grant with my therapist has enabled me to become a better partner to Grant.

When I first began weekly therapy sessions with my professional therapist back in October, I was nervous. I was afraid that if I told Tonya everything that was going on in my life, including the nitty-gritty details of my relationship with Grant, I would be judged or labeled as “the troubled one.” I already knew I had control issues prior to seeking counseling; I didn’t need someone blatantly pointing out all of my perfectionist tendencies and anger management problems.

But once I began talking about Grant with Tonya, I quickly realized that this was something I should have done many months earlier. This is because no matter how hard I try, I cannot solve my issues on my own. Healing isn’t something I can force in my own bedroom. I need someone to help me pick through some of the rubble in order to salvage the good and make something beautiful. And despite how helpful Grant tries to be, there are simply some things that I need to hear from another woman. And from someone who, frankly, just knows what they’re talking about.

Because I have shared my insecurities about my relationship with my therapist, I have been able to better understand where those insecurities originated from. When I describe the way Grant and I communicate and handle conflict, she coaches me on how to be someone who fights fair. I have even brought Grant with me to see Tonya more than once so he and I could work through our anxieties, arguments, and miscommunications together. And the fact that she shares our faith and values makes her counsel even more relatable and impactful.

Having a professional give their opinion on your relationship might sound intrusive, but I truly believe it’s one of the best things I could be doing for Grant and I, especially considering the season we are in. There’s no way Grant and I would be this mature and better prepared for marriage (notice how I didn’t just say prepared because, let’s face it, we’re still not ready) if I didn’t start seeking guidance and counsel from someone as wise, understanding, and experienced as my therapist. By the way, I’m also an advocate of seeking mentorship from other couples within your church, Bible studies, family, or your community.

The point is that it’s not bad to talk to a professional about your significant other and your relationship with them. It’s actually the opposite of bad; it’s tremendously helpful and healthy. And the best part, in my opinion, is that you don’t have to feel guilty about talking about your SO behind their back (because how could they possibly get mad at you for seeking help on both of your behalves)?

I talk about Grant behind his back so I can be a better partner to him. And honestly, I should be getting brownie points for working this hard. Therapy is some exhausting, hardcore stuff — like kickboxing, only you have to use your words.

Reason #2.

Talking about Grant with family and friends helps me appreciate the role he plays in my life.

I love when people ask me how Grant and I first started dating because it gives me a chance to brag on this man’s faithfulness to me. I friend-zoned him, completely rejected him from the get-go, but he persisted. And a year later, when my eyes were finally opened to see the nerdy stud that he was, the fact that he was still smitten with me and willing to pursue me gave me a glimpse of just how special this man really was. And it doesn’t stop there.

Every time my friends and family talk to me about Grant, I’m given another opportunity to brag on how good he is to me. But no matter how much I have to brag about, I also feel the need to be honest and share our weaknesses and struggles, too. Like the fact he gets on my nerves. A lot. That’s something I probably shouldn’t hide; otherwise, people would ask why my eyes sometimes seem to be permanently glued to the top of my head and my mouth looks more like a scowl than a smile. I also like to tell people that Grant is a passive arguer, but that just does me more harm than good because they then realize I’m the true culprit of probably ninety percent of our arguments and conflict.

The more I give people little insights into our relationship, the more appreciative of Grant I become. Because at the end of the day, I am able to say that he is still one of the hardest working, most faithful men I know. No matter how berating and stubborn I can be, he is still always willing to hold my hand and wipe my tears. No matter how hopeless things sometimes seem when I feel the weight of my sin nature within the context of our relationship, he is still encouraging us to keep praying and pressing on. Being able to share these things with people not only helps them see the role he plays in my life, but it helps me see it, too.

I talk about Grant behind his back because when our relationship sometimes feels routine and things get hard, it’s nice to be reminded that he is my faithful partner who’s stuck with me through thick and thin. And the best part is that he actually wants to keep at it for the rest of his life. That’s impressive. No other man besides my daddy can boast of having such a love for me. And it’s that kind of love I am willing to talk about with anyone who will listen.

Reason #3.

Talking about Grant through my writing encourages others in their relationships.

The first time I wrote a post about Grant, I expected to be tagged as mouthy and over-sharing. My mom tells me that the more I talk about Grant on my blog, the more ammo I give other women who may want to try to get between us. And she has a point. Grant just gets more handsome by the day (I’m in love and dead serious so don’t laugh). But I don’t want to live in fear of what my writing could do to our relationship because I enjoy seeing what it’s doing for other people in their relationships.

I love that I was able to have a Skype call today with a woman I met over Instagram who, like me, is engaged. After reading my blog post on my fears concerning marriage, she related to it so much so that she actually wanted to talk to my boring, weird self and offer me some much-needed encouragement. I had no idea that this stranger would somehow become my friend and speak into my life after being spoken to through my blog. Once again, I was reminded that our writing can transcend our expectations if we let it.

I love that people seem to be more willing to talk about the hard things now, too. I feel like I see so many married couples who stray away from confessing struggles or issues that they have because they fear the negative affect it could have on their marriage. What I believe is that honesty can be harmful if you’re not careful, but it’s important nonetheless. Take risks, but risk wisely. If you know that someone could grow and benefit from hearing your experiences, I think it does more harm than good to remain in silence and hide away. In case you haven’t realized, I’ve quit hiding (for the most part). I want people to see the real me so they can love me and support me and maybe even relate to me. And they have. For the same reasons, I want people to see Grant and I for the real “us.”  I don’t want to endanger my relationship with Grant in any way, and it’s for that reason precisely that I sometimes open my big, fat mouth and blab away. I trust that God is giving me discernment and also protecting us along the way. And don’t worry — I do have limits.

I also love that when I wrote about the things no one tells you about being engaged, I saw many people jumping out of their seats, saying, “ME TOO.” Like holy cow. If more people had just told me that they were also experiencing these things and that my feelings are completely normal, I PROBABLY WOULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH MORE PREPARED FOR THIS. Thanks a lot, guys. This is why we need more people talking about their fiancés behind their back.

I talk about Grant behind his back so others can be encouraged and built up. This world needs more authenticity when it comes to the realities of relationships and marriages. I praise God for the books on marriage sitting on my bookshelf because they were written by authentic authors. Their willingness to share their experiences and hardships have enabled me to better prepare for marriage and grow into the partner I sometimes fear I can’t be. My hope is that through my writing, I am having even just a fraction of that impact on somebody out there who feels afraid and alone at times, just like me.

Reason #4.

Talking about Grant with God does more good for our relationship than all of my feeble efforts combined.

Some of my most honest, heartfelt prayers have been prayers concerning Grant and I. And I’m not talking about the “Lord, please protect my fiancé because I love him so much” prayers. I’m talking about the “Lord, I’m at my wit’s end. I freaking hate everything that is happening. I honestly don’t understand why you created men. If you could just help me understand, then maybe Grant and I could have a chance. But I’m losing it! Can’t you tell I’m losing it? Lord, how many times do I have to scream and cry for you to do something? I can’t do this. I’m going to quit. I have no idea of what I’m doing. I don’t know how to love. I don’t know how to be loved. This sucks and I just don’t know if I can keep doing it” prayers.

What happens when I pray these prayers is that I learn to see God for who he is just a little bit more than I did before. And the reason this happens is because I am also seeing myself for who I am just a little bit more. And here is who I am when I am on my knees, crying out to God: a woman desperate for something more beautiful than what she could make with her own hands and free will, a woman so lost and confused that she knows she’s going to have to lean wholeheartedly on God, a woman so fed up that she’s finally willing to die to self and surrender all.

When I resurface from these prayers, I usually run straight to Grant, wanting to make things right (because odds are that I was responsible for something gone wrong). I also am somehow willing to forgive again despite being hurt by the same thing for the hundredth time and there not being a single solution in sight.

The thing about prayer is that it isn’t designed to change God; it’s designed to change us. And it has changed me. It’s made me into a fighter, a warrior. It’s opened my eyes to the work of God.

I talk about Grant behind his back because we need someone bigger than us fighting for us. The enemy has tried so many times to divide Grant and I. And there have been days where he probably thought he was successful. But the fact we are still standing and still moving forward proves that there is a higher power working on our behalf. The lies of the enemy are no match against the truth of God. And every time I cry out to God in prayer, I’m allowing myself to believe in that truth once again. When I pray, I am reminded that I can do nothing without God. He is my everything. He is our everything. He is the Rock on which Grant and I stand. 

And if that’s not enough reason to start talking about your man behind his back, then I don’t know what is.

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When All of My Flaws Are Laid Out One by One

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Photo by Liliya via Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/d9Wb99)

When all of your flaws and all of my flaws

are laid out one by one

The wonderful part of the mess that we made

We pick ourselves undone

“Flaws” — Bastille

There’s something about vulnerability (okay, A LOT of things) that I still don’t understand. Like why it’s so dang hard.

Today I was asked why I want to get married, and instead of giving the shorthand answer, “we feel like it’s the next step” or the hyper-spiritual answer, “because God says it’s not good for man to be alone, etc,” I gave the real one.

I want to get married because I know I can’t do as much on my own as I can with Grant. He brings the best out of me (and sometimes the worst) and I bring the best out of him (and sometimes his worst). We are compatible — not because we are the same and we perfectly relate, but because he and I are amazed at how many ways we are able to complement each other.

But for some reason, despite the truth of this statement, there’s still so much holding me back in my relationship. I can see the fruit that comes from being vulnerable. I have experienced the warmth of his support and encouragement in times of honest communication. Yet there are some topics I deem “off-limits,” some things I veer away from.

I was discussing how difficult it can be for me to be vulnerable with Grant with my counselor today, and she pointed out that I don’t usually feel this way with my girlfriends. I love sharing all things with my friends; I can be messy and explicit and wear my heart on my sleeve with those people.

With Grant it’s a different story. And it’s a different story because romantic relationships and marriages seem so much more risky to me. They’re risky and frightening because they’re supposed to be permanent, but sometimes they aren’t. Like the time I was dumped by my ex-boyfriend when I thought we would soon be getting engaged. They’re scary because you want them to last, but there are some things out of your control. Like the times I thought Grant and I could instantly resolve arguments and we could both wake up as new people who would stop hurting each other.

I’ve always had the philosophy, “friends come and go, but relationships are forever.” And I know that that’s counterintuitive to those who preach “bros before hoes” and “chicks before… well you know.” But that’s just the way this hopeless romantic has always felt. I’ve always put romantic relationships above friendships. I somehow understood the sacred nature of marriage long before I really knew God’s intent for it.

And here I am — about to get married, about to really put those philosophies into action, about to commit myself to what I deem permanent.

And I’m kinda, sorta terrified.

Because yes… this is for forever.

And what if that thing Grant says he loves about me he no longer loves tomorrow?

What if the stuff I tell him today he uses against me next week?

What if the issues I have now that he says he will support me through will one day end up destroying what we have?

What if the things I ask him to fix for us he never ends up fixing?

But here’s what I’m needing to be reminded of: I will never be able to see my vision for marriage — that beautiful union where each partner learns to bring the best out of the other — if I do not let Grant see ALL OF ME.

How can we grow together in our walk with Christ if I remove him from all things pertaining to my walk with Christ?

How can he encourage me to become my best self when I’m only showing him the parts I think he’ll like or the parts that mistakenly slip out?

If I’m really going to benefit from this union, if I’m really going to have the best marriage I could possibly imagine, I’m going to have to make a choice day after day.

I’m going to have to choose to be seen.

My friends, I know that there are so many secrets we are still holding onto, so many fears we’re still afraid of sharing. We’re embarrassed to admit our weaknesses and we cling tightly to our flaws instead of bare them in front of the ones we say we love.

But how can people love us if they don’t know who we are?

How can people support us if they don’t know where we are weak?

How can people lift us up when they don’t know that we have fallen?

Vulnerability does not come easy for most of us, but it IS possible.

I have to believe that it’s possible; otherwise, why am I getting married? It would all be for nothing. Because no glory can come to God through two people promising partnership when there is no actual partnership. No Christ-like love can be shown through a marriage that is still comprised of two people hiding behind defense mechanisms.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22).

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… (Ephesians 5:25).

I am making the commitment to submit myself to Grant. This does not mean I am a servant to be stepped on. This does not mean I will no longer be seen. It’s the exact opposite, actually. I submit myself to Grant by allowing myself to be seen, by making myself vulnerable and trusting that he will not harm me.

And if Grant will hold up his end of the bargain (which I believe he will), he will love me with the same unconditional, all-knowing, grace-saturated love that Christ loves me with.

This is what I want our marriage to be founded on — this idea that we can love and serve each other boldly and with vulnerability.

But I have to start making the choice to do so now.

Will you please pray with me as I venture into the unknown, as I lay down my pride and fears and allow my partner to see me as I am?

And today, will you please allow yourself to be seen? Will you let yourself believe that you have things to offer this world, and the world has things to offer to you?

Because life without love, or rather life without vulnerability, is no life at all.

And I want you to live. I want you to live with all you have, with all the gusto you can muster. Love boldly. Love unashamedly. Love wisely. And let yourself be loved in return.

Why I’m Pausing from the Authentic Project

Many of you have been reading my Authentic Project posts each week and volunteering to be interviewed, which means the world to me. The fact that I get the opportunity to sit down with beautiful women and hear their beautiful stories is already pretty awesome, but then add the fact that people actually want to be part of what I’m doing? Amazing.

Here’s the thing, though: The Authentic Project was NEVER meant to be just me.

I know that it was months ago when I first shared my vision for the Authentic Project, but there was a caveat many have seemed to brush over or dismiss since that day.

As much as I knew I was going to enjoy sitting down with girls and interviewing them about the things God has put on my heart, I also felt deep down that I couldn’t do this forever. Not only that, but I couldn’t do this alone.

This is why I encouraged other women to submit their own Authentic Project interviews from the get-go. I envisioned my inbox flooding with emails from women who are bravely sitting down with others and having the same crucial conversations. I pictured an army of authentic women rising up, choosing to lay down their armor and invite others to be vulnerable alongside them.

But I haven’t seen a single woman take the initiative to do the same thing.

So I’m just going to assume that you missed the memo and the thought never occurred to you. And that’s why I’m going to make sure you don’t miss it again.

The Authentic Project requires you.

I know you’re busy. I know that a lot of people demand a lot of things from you. I know that your responsibilities have been piling up and it’s getting to be too much. I know you’ve been trying so hard to get your priorities in order and it’s just not working. I know all of these things because I’m there with you.

I laugh with people about how often I’m at Starbucks conducting these interviews, but during the busy, chaotic weeks it’s actually not so funny. My weekly budget basically consists of tithing, saving, and Starbucks-spending. Throughout the week, I’m constantly trying to schedule meetings, give each woman at least an hour or two of my time, and transcribe what I’m recording during these sessions so the interviews are ready to be posted every Friday.

It’s a lot of work and I’m easily exhausted because I’m trying to do it all on my own.

This is why I am choosing to pause from this project for a moment. I don’t want you to think that I am quitting because I am NOT giving up this project whatsoever. I am still just as committed to the Authentic Project, if not more. My vision remains clear and my heart is still beating for this cause. Yet I need to stop for a second and catch my breath. I also want to allow other women to catch up to me.

I’m not going to get down on my knees and beg for someone to do the Authentic Project with me, but I am encouraging every woman who is reading this to try. I know that what’s on my heart isn’t necessarily on your heart, but I also know there ARE those who are on the same page as me and are just as eager to see the Authentic Project in action as I am.

If you are regularly reading the Authentic Project interviews, are in support of what I am doing, or have actually expressed interest in the project to me in person, I am speaking specifically to you.

You have no idea how humbling and moving having these “interviews” (which are, in essence, conversations) can be. I’ve sat across from crying women as they share with me many of the same struggles I have in my own life. I’ve left interviews with a deeper compassion than when I walked in and a stronger conviction than when I first started.

The more I’ve done this, the more easy it’s become. The questions I ask are memorized, yet over time I’ve found myself able to instantly invent new ones and easily guide the conversation along. These interviews aren’t difficult when you are being moved by an authentic interest and care. I’ve even become a slightly better Instagram photographer.

I so badly want you to experience what being on THIS side of the Authentic Project is like.

If there’s even the slightest amount of curiosity in you, I would love to see you try conducting an Authentic Project interview following these steps:

authentic HOW TO

Step One: Find a woman, any woman.

Step Two: Ask that woman to sit down for coffee or lunch. Heck, invite her into your home. Tell her what you’re going to be doing so she’s not caught off guard.

Step Three: Use a smart phone to record your interview.

Step Four: Begin interviewing. The questions I use are listed below, but feel free to create your own. I often add in unplanned questions between answers, depending on where the interview takes us. This “free flow spontaneity” is called having a normal, intentional conversation.

  • What are some of the things you want to do with the rest of your life?
  • What do you think is one of the hardest parts about being a woman?
  • What do you think is one of the hardest parts about being you?
  • Do you find it hard to be vulnerable? Why or why not?
  • What would you say or do if you weren’t afraid of being vulnerable?
  • What do you feel like you need the most from people in your life right now?
  • What do you feel like you need the most from God?
  • Who is one person you want to be more authentic with?

Step Five: Take a picture of that woman. I usually take fifteen or so pictures so I can let them pick the one they like best. And yes, I would ask them to pose. Don’t hate because you know the pictures end up looking cute.

Step Six: Go home and transcribe pieces of the interview that resonate with you or you know could resonate with someone else. I call these pieces “snippets.” If you’re too lazy to do this step, find a way to send me the audio file of the interview and I’ll most likely be able to transcribe it for you.

Step Seven: Send me an email at jessienyland@gmail.com with the name of the woman you interviewed, the pictures of that woman that you took, and the snippets of the interview you transcribed. I will combine everything into an Authentic Project post.

Step Eight: If you are pleased with what you read after the interview you send me is published, do it all over again. And again.

That might not sound simple to you right now, but I promise it becomes easier the more you do it. The hardest part is being willing to set aside the time for it. The Authentic Project requires intentional communication, but I believe this is one of the reasons for why it’s meant so much to so many people. A lot of us want to see more intentional, authentic women in this world.

If you choose to begin doing this with me, even if you just decide to do one interview, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

If you’re thinking of conducting an Authentic Project interview, let me know so I can encourage you and be of assistance (also so I can hold you accountable when you feel like chickening out). Please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions you might have. For further clarification, it might help to look at some of the past interviews I have published.

Again, this project needs you. I need you. I don’t want to beg, but I won’t lie either.

Thank you for considering being part of this project with me. My vision always was and still is for more and more women to be a part of this movement of intentionality and authenticity.

In the meantime, you will keep seeing interviews being published on my blog —  not every week, but a little each month. I would love to sit down with each and every woman to hear her stories and what’s on her heart. I will continue to do so as much as I am able.

But because I’m only one woman, I’m calling out to any woman who is listening: Be a part of the Authentic Project with me and see what happens.

The Scary But Necessary Truth

 

I’m wrestling with what it means to be authentic.

Because more often than not, I’m giving off a false impression of myself.

I’m not that calm, collected girl who walks into class with her coffee and combat boots, no care in the world. I’m not that wise, oh-so-godly girl who sits in Bible studies and leads worship because Jesus is all she thinks about and lives for 24/7. I’m not that confident, positive girl who just likes to laugh at jokes, meet with friends at coffee shops, and wear yoga pants (because they’re by far the comfiest things in the world).

I might try to look like that girl. And I might even succeed. But she’s not me.

Truthfully, I’m still figuring out what kind of girl I am. I’m still discovering my interests, likes and dislikes, and personality. I’m learning that I’m a lot like my mother, which brings into question how much of me is really me. I also know that I often mold into my friends, putting on a different mask to be around different people. And I know better than anyone that I’m a messy, complex person who is one way today and then a totally different way tomorrow.

Can the real Jessie Nyland please stand up?

In all of my wrestling, I’ve been learning a lot about myself, the world we live in, and God.

And here’s one of the most important things about being authentic that I’ve seen and am now believing: it begins with telling the truth. 

You’re not going to destroy all those false images that have been built up around you overnight. You can’t dismantle all those lies just by saying to yourself, “okay, be YOU now.”

Odds are that if you have been pretending long enough, you’ve started to believe that girl is really who you are.

So authenticity has to start somewhere, and I believe it starts with telling just one truth. One scary but necessary truth.

And after that truth gets out there, you tell another one. And another one. Until eventually, when people see you, they don’t just see the girl with the nose ring, combat boots, and cool blog. The one who keeps to herself and seems to have her life together.

They see the truth.

They see the girl who’s insecure, weird, moody, and confused. They see the girl who’s struggled with perfectionism all her life, but is learning how to keep that under control in her relationships and everyday life. They see the girl who loves God, but has nowhere near all the answers to living a faithful, godly life. They see the girl who has no idea what she’s doing.

The art of being authentic is telling the truth so people can stop seeing one thing and start to see another.

And in seeing you in this new light, you are somehow given permission to keep being yourself. After all, once the truth is out there, you can’t really take it back. Might as well keep unraveling.

I think this is why I write the way I do, why I’m becoming more and more honest about who I am. I’m tired of the lies I think people might believe about me, the lies that say I’m fine and I love my life and my faith is on point and I don’t need help.

(and I’m also a little tired of the lies I believe about many of YOU. There’s nothing more crippling than the insecurity that comes from seeing someone in this perfect, Instagram-filtered life and knowing I could never be that)

Authenticity needs to be more common. I’m pretty sure I need it if I’m going to stay sane.

I made an Instagram like four days ago and I’m already considering deleting it because I’m OBSESSING over what filters to use, to hashtag or not to hashtag, and why-oh-why is this girl so drop-dead gorgeous and perfect while I’m…. not?

You see, this is hurting me. The lack of authenticity and vulnerability I see all around me is hurting me.

It’s why I took so long to tell anyone about my loneliness or sadness. It’s why I don’t ask people out for coffee or invite anyone to come over to my house. It’s why I feel awful after watching a movie with beautiful, stick-thin actresses. It’s why I feel like a failure in every aspect of my life.

I believe that everyone else in the world is pretty and perfect while I’m pitiful and pathetic.

And that’s not healthy or even true.

We’re ALL really good liars. 

And I’m so tired of being one.

If we’re going to have healthy relationships with others and with ourselves, we have to start telling the truth. Yes, the scary but necessary truth.

And if we’re going to have a healthy relationship with God, we have to start believing the truth about who HE says we are, too.

This is my new philosophy and it’s taken me many years to get here.

Here’s my truth for today: I’m far from feeling secure in who I am. But I so badly want to be. And I’m clawing at these lies as fast as I can, hoping to reach the point where I can look into the mirror and say, “this IS you.”

I don’t think I want to be that perfect, happy girl in my profile picture anymore. I want to be a real girl. An honest one. And even though I know you might be holding onto your own false images, I hope you can feel just a bit more comfortable being yourself after seeing the real, honest me. I want to invite you into realness, too.

Can we please, for (literally) the love of God, start telling the truth? You and I both, hand in hand. Just pushing those truths out there into the blinding public eye so the lies can leave us in peace to be our true, beautiful selves.

All it takes is just telling the truth. One scary but necessary truth at a time.

New Pain, New Gain

Image by Allison Imagining on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/dMioL3_

Image by Allison Imagining on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/dMioL3_

I’ve been thinking about New Year’s resolutions and what mine might be for this upcoming year. For the past several years, I’ve allowed God to put something on my heart that I would make my resolution. No, I’m not talking about resolutions like “exercise three times a week” or “read my Bible more.” I’m talking about life goals, something that will shape me and challenge me, something that God himself would accomplish through me.

Last year’s resolution was to figure out what I love. That sounds so simple and vague, but God showed up in a big way through my continual discovery of what that meant. I realized that I love working with middle school students more than anything else I’ve ever done. I discovered that I love doing small things behind the scenes rather than working hands-on all the time. I absolutely love writing. I love listening to people’s stories and just catching up with friends over coffee. And most of all, I love family. I love the family I have and I love the thought of having my own someday. These things were mysteries that God brought to the surface, and the clarity I received was greater than I anticipated.

But pain and disappointment were not so far behind.

Despite the great things that were revealed to me, I also learned some tough lessons, too.

I learned that people often fail other people, sometimes by mistake and sometimes just because of human nature’s selfishness. I realized that I care so deeply that I end up being deeply hurt, as well. I discovered that not all people can be trusted with my heart. I found out the hard way that not all prayers are answered. I harbored a new level of cynicism and doubt. I felt real pain.

Out of 2013 came a freeing revelation on what I love to do and also a terrifying realization of what love can do to me.

But it’s another year, my friends.

In 2014, I won’t quit loving. I won’t quit being myself. I won’t quit having a soft, tender heart. I won’t quit being vulnerable. I won’t quit trusting God or people.

My resolution for this year is simply to love fearlessly. I’m ready to challenge the hurt and disappointments I faced with my great capacity to love.

Some people argue that New Year’s resolutions are dumb because people have the chance to change their lives any day of the year if they really wanted to. And it’s true. We do have that capability. But sometimes years are hard and they’re set apart by that. I can’t entirely look back on 2013 with fondness, and I realize that to try to come out of 2013 unscathed would’ve saved me from some hurt but also would’ve prevented me from learning one of the greatest lessons I could possibly learn in this life.

Sometimes people suck, but having a hard heart sucks more.

Out of the not-so-great 2013 emerged a wounded (but not eternally damaged) Jessie. And I can tell you now that 2014 is going to be one great fight.

Love and Vulnerability

“We are never so vulnerable as when we love.”

I love this quote. The thing that I’ve been struggling with the most lately is the thought of being vulnerable while loving people and serving God, which I desire to do above all else.

There are two pressing arguments in my head that I cannot avoid. On one side is the argument that I must love people to the best of my ability even though there is the possibility of getting hurt, rejected, or persecuted. On the other side is the argument that I must not love at all so I avoid rejection and hurt, though I’d probably end up disappointing myself and God in the process. Either I can put myself out there and be hurt by others or I can keep to myself and also hurt myself.

The prophet Jeremiah experienced this sort of pain. Even though God warned him that he would be persecuted and hated by the Israelites while delivering God’s message to them, He still felt the weight of their rejection and the sorrow from seeing them in bondage because of sin.

“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty… I sat alone because your hand was on me and you had filled me with indignation. Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable?” (Jeremiah 15:16-18)

Despite the acknowledgment of this unbearable pain he was experiencing through his obedience to God, he still continued living out his calling. Why? Because God was with him every step of the way. After Jeremiah’s lament, God responds.

“If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me… I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you.” (Jeremiah 15:19, 20)

God knew the Israelites would fight against Jeremiah and reject his message. Did this change God’s desire for Jeremiah to obey? No. The sorrow that Jeremiah felt because of the Israelites’ sin was nothing compared to the sorrow God felt, and it was this sorrow that drove God to continue pursuing His people.

One thing we must remember is that the pain we experience through living out our calling and loving people in this world is nothing compared to the pain God has experienced through His love. This pain ultimately occurred on the cross. Even as Jesus foresaw this suffering and prayed for His Father to take the cup away, the cup of God’s wrath that would be poured out on Him as He died on the cross for all of mankind’s sin, He still knew what he had to do.

And I know what I have to do. I have to continue obeying by loving, even if such love causes tremendous pain.

We are going to face hurt and suffering in this world, both in our lives and from watching the lives of those around us. Turning our backs to protect ourselves only prevents us from glorifying God to the utmost and transforming into His Son who loved more than we ever could through selflessness, sacrifice, and suffering.

Pain is involved in loving, and that’s expected. So is joy. And purpose. And hope.

I know I still won’t be as bold in love as I should be, but I also know I don’t want to let my life go by without completing the calling God has put on my life to love His people. Because of that, I want to choose to love when I can and allow myself to receive forgiveness for the opportunities to love that I miss.

Will I be perfect at loving others? No. And that’s okay. Jesus is the only perfect lover, and we are simply given the gift of experiencing His love and giving out His love. Love is a gift from God, and you can’t mess that up, even when vulnerability is involved.

It’s true that we are never so vulnerable as when we love, and that’s what makes love all the more daring and beautiful.