I have a problem with being vulnerable with others. I rarely share what’s going on with me; I have walls around my heart and I’m careful with my feelings. After a friend told me I was missing out, I began considering how I could be more vulnerable, open, and intimate with others. Then, the other day, I had the opportunity to share my feelings with someone, and I did: “…I just want to spend time with you,” I said as I was walking away. It was the truth and it was from my heart. It was also met with a joke, and then deafening silence for weeks. I told my friend, seems all I was missing out on was pain.
I understand the desire to withhold vulnerability—having experienced tons of hurt in my life from other people, it seems better to hold it in and lose myself in a fantasy world, whether in my mind or one that porn created. But the porn identity has taught me some false ideas about being vulnerable with others:
- The porn identity says that vulnerability is controllable. Porn creates a “safe” environment for its users, a place where I control the intimacy in my life. You don’t get “hurt” by people in pornography. You are in control of your pleasure receptors. But in real life, intimacy is uncontainable, wild, and overwhelming. Sometimes it releases those pleasure hormones, and other times, you are writhing in pain from the hurt. It is not safe or controlled, and there is no guarantee you won’t get hurt if you actively participate in love and intimacy in the real world. Here’s the good news: Jesus promises us that though we will experience hurt and suffering, He has overcome the world (John 16:33). It’s easier to say than do, but resting in that promise is something I’ve been trying to do recently. And Jesus didn’t say we might experience hurt, He said we will. But how we will handle it?
- The porn identity says that being vulnerable isn’t worth it. Right now, I am fighting against this old identity, asking whether being vulnerable is even good. If people are going to ignore or pay no attention to your feelings, is it really worth it to open your heart to others? It doesn’t feel like it. It feels safer to stay behind the safety of my walls. But here’s the good news: God tells us that it’s worth it to trust in Him and give our hearts to Him (John 12:23-25). And if I could just focus on that—if we could just focus on that—then human responses to my vulnerability would matter less. Instead of letting humans tell me what is worthy, I need to focus on what God says is worthy. And He says that being vulnerable, honest, open, and accountable with Him is worth it—especially since He made the ultimate sacrifice of vulnerability for me.
- The porn identity says that you deserve vulnerability in return. It’s funny that I would say, considering that pornography offers you nothing real in terms of intimacy. But because porn preaches that you deserve fulfillment, you begin to believe that you deserve it in all areas. However, life doesn’t work like that. Sometimes, people hurt you and they don’t return your intimacy. What then? Then—the good news: the cross reminds us that being vulnerable even when others reject us means we are becoming more like Jesus (Isaiah 53:3). The key to life is godliness—becoming more like Christ in everything we do. It means changing the way the world—or pornography—has said to do things and focusing on doing them God’s way. Jesus still suffered death on a cross for every person on earth, even knowing He would be rejected by many. We are called to die to ourselves, our wishes, our expectations—and live for Jesus.
I don’t know if I will continue to be vulnerable with this person, but I do know that, after a few weeks of hurt, I have reached out to others and let them into my pain. I realize it’s important to grow in this area, and as God continues His challenging work in my life, I know I must continue to be vulnerable, even at the risk of rejection…because that is the God identity I want to embrace!