“God never promises to remove us from our struggles. He does promise, however, to change the way we look at them.” Max Lucado
The author of the book works as a mental health practitioner in the field of eating disorders and chemical dependency. She deals with patients on a daily basis who are struggling with their self-esteem and who are trying to ease their pain with drugs, alcohol or food. In chapter three of the book, she turns the spotlight on herself and shares how a particular confrontation with a patient left her feeling weak and vulnerable.Those feelings were uncommon to her and she did not know how to deal with them. After all, she had to be in control; she was the helper… not the one who needed help. It was her calling to help others and in doing so, she had closed herself off from the pain and the sadness she saw daily in her job. She was exhausted and was feeling her sense of controlling her world was slipping from her grasp.
This chapter really hit home with me. I, too, feel the need to control my environment. I am careful to not let people see the real me. What if you don’t like the ugly parts of me? What if I let you see that I have needs too? That thought is scary to me. I don’t want to be vulnerable so I keep up the pretense that all is well and I have it all together. I may present an image of someone who has it all under control but the inside does not match the outside. I think this is one reason I try so hard to look my best when I go out anywhere. Thinking back to my childhood, my mom never went anywhere without putting on her favorite shade of lipstick (Cherries Jubilee) so like mother like daughter????
My innate desire is to be a helper and to nurture others. My chosen profession was teaching preschool and I worked in that field for 20+ years. It was a natural choice for me. I married a man who suffers from diabetes and it was easy for me to step into the role of being his helper in monitoring his diet and his insulin intake. But, I am coming to realize that by focusing so much on being a helper, I have lost who I am and what my needs are.
Being vulnerable takes courage. It means letting those masks we wear slip just a bit and letting our true self shine through… flaws and all. Isn’t that what God wants us to do, though… to be honest with ourselves and let others lift us up?
1. What do you try to “be” for others that, deep inside, you believe you are not (i.e. confident, peaceful, hopeful etc)? What do you need to do to become the person you really want to be?
I like to present myself as being confident even though it is not in my nature. I volunteered to be a “reader” for our Sunday morning services which means I read the appointed scripture reading for the day and involves standing up in front of the congregation. I practice the reading several times so as to read it flawlessly… after all I cannot make a mistake in front of all those people can I??? I imagine myself reading a story to the preschoolers I used to teach and that helps to calm my nerves.
2. Do you find it easy or difficult to be vulnerable? What makes you reluctant to reveal your authentic self to others?
I have a few close friends who I feel I can be myself with… people I can spend time with without the need for my mask. With others, I want so much to be liked and to be accepted that revealing my needs and my flaws is not an option.
3. What do you hope to learn from this book?
It is my hope that by reading this book and by revealing the bits and pieces of myself in this blog, I will feel whole and healthy and brave enough to present my true self to others.