The Risk of Vulnerability

The Risk of Vulnerability

I spent some really important growing up years in Guatemala, which makes me what’s called a Third Culture Kid (TCK). About three years after moving back to the U.S. is when I realized something was odd about me. One of my biggest problems was girls kept falling in love with me. Seriously. I’m not kidding. One conversation and snap the girl would think I wanted to marry her.

Now before you think I’m a totally self-absorbed jerk, please give me a chance to explain.

It wasn’t until I read a book about TCKs that I figured out why I was such an oddball. TCKs are people who grew up in one country, but eventually go back to their home country. It brings both benefits and challenges. One of the concepts in the book is the Time/Depth Dilemma.

Basically, when you grow up in another country (or in the military) all your expatriate friends are constantly coming and going. Most embassies transfer their employees every two years, some companies do the same. You figure out that you may not have much time with your new amigo from Norway or the Philippines, so you skip the time factor in relationships, jump past about three established relational development phases, and just jump to the deep stuff. Most folks who grow up in a more stable environment count on lots of time to build relationships.

So, for obvious reasons, when I started talking to a new girl I met back in the U.S. about my hopes and dreams and asking her about hers she would think I was madly in love with her.

I eventually learned that time is really important in relationships in ‘Merica. You need lots of time before you go talking about deep stuff.

Now, here’s where I’m going to make a bold statement: I think that maybe we’ve gone a little too far overboard on this time thing.

The first problem is, none of us have any time. We are all leveraged to the hilt on time. So we end up with nothing more than surface friendships because we don’t have margin to develop anything else. We settle for fake community. And we can’t figure out why we are lonely.

Secondly, I think our slowness in diving deeper in relationships is partly an excuse to protect from hurt – which we all have some bad experiences with. We are afraid if we share too much too early, we may be rejected or abandoned. So we settle for surface and since it’s comfortable most of us just stay there.

The thing is, the very thing that gets us hurt – relationship – is also the thing that heals us.

But healing and life don’t happen until we are willing to be vulnerable in a community with healthy boundaries and real personal interaction. Not a community like Facebook. Vulnerability on Facebook is usually met with de-friending.

I’m ranting now, mostly because this is a battle I’m currently fighting. I’ve gone too far away from my TCK ways, trying to be culturally relevant and fit in. I’m trying to find a happy balance.

I’ll leave you with this.

We need life-giving friendships around us where transparency is welcomed. We don’t have to tell the whole world, just a few key people. We need a place where we can be ourselves, but when ourselves have some dysfunction, it can be addressed. To do this you’ll have to be brave and slow down. Then you’ll have to take a risk on vulnerability. Yes, it’s scary. But it’s the only way you are going to live the abundant life God has for you.

Be brave. Risk vulnerability.


”’It seems to me that we really seldom do anybody much good excepting as we share the deepest experiences of our souls…It is not the fashion to tell your inmost thoughts, but there are many wrong fashions, and concealment of the best in us is wrong. – Frank Laubach