Vulnerability, Risk, Relationships and Elliptical Machines

E400I went to the gym this evening and while on the elliptical I had a wave of emotion run over me. I was watching a movie to pass the time as the story of three women unfolded. Each woman was in the middle of a heart break. They had been friends years and were married for much of that time. One by one each woman’s marriage fell apart. One by one the women experienced a husband cheating and leaving them for a younger model. Three women, three friends, same story.

I had an emotional reaction to the last marriage crumbling. It was not the specifics of the scene that set me off, but a list of things really:

First, the reality that often Hollywood portrays men in such a poor light, why is it that each man was slimy, greedy, full of lust and dishonest?

Second, the reality that women, just like those portrayed in the film often feel as though they can so easily be traded in for a better model.

Third, I was struck by how these women did not know they had a voice within their marriages. I wondered if they had ever felt empowered in their relationship, were they  brave to speak the truth, perhaps they’d never been shown equality or dignity. If they had, would they have lost their voice?

Fourth, my mind began to scan through the many conversations I’ve had of late with young women in the beginning stages of relationships and some as their relationships have ended.

Fifth, how devastating it is to watch love, or that thought of love, diminish in a flash.

Sixth, I know too many stories of friends, who have experienced this kind of loss.

Lastly…. was the risk of loving, it is high and vulnerable and scary and uncertain and confusing and exhilarating and wonderful and horrible and purgatory.

I meet with young women on a regular basis. It is a love of mine to give courage to women through relationship and story. Recently my conversation with several of these women have led to topic of the risk of vulnerability. Many seem to be in the initial risk stage of relationships, some are in the going one step deeper risk stage, some are in the it’s getting real stage and others have stepped into the certainty stage, where the risk actually is very high, but not felt as immediately. I’ve also sat with those who have lost love, who have seen marriages and relationships of those they love crumble or have experienced that loss themselves.

So there I was, on the elliptical, stepping away, with faces of women running through my mind. Women with questions of love, relationship and vulnerability: wondering if love is worth the risk? Do relationships last? How do you know if it’s right? How long do you remain vulnerable? What does it mean to allow God to protect your heart? What does risk look like for women in relationships? I prayed for each woman. I prayed for wisdom. I prayed for bravery. I prayed for courage.

And  then, seemingly out of nowhere, I had my own moment of vulnerability. I too am human. I too am a woman. I too am single. I fear risk. I have been wounded. I don’t always know what trust looks like. I don’t always follow the wisdom I speak into others.

I kept stepping and praying. And soon, courage washed over. I stepped with a greater sense of confidence and found that my heart once filled with questions, reflection, grief, and anger was now settled, full of peace, full of confidence, full of belief.

You see, Jesus met me in that moment and gave me courage. It is my belief in Him that enables me to be vulnerable. It is an increased belief in His care for me that makes risk, not so risky. It is the belief that Jesus is in control that enables me to confidently move in obedience, even if the move seems uncomfortable, risky or vulnerable.

Relationships with people are risky. We are all kind of a mess in our own beautiful way. We each bring our mess to one another, romantically and in friendship and ask each other, if we are wanted, as is. Sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes the answer is no, but the truth is, giving too much power to the answer has devastating effects on us.

The women in the movie had given too much power to the answer. They missed out on a truth that is often missed by each of us. It is a truth that is often discussed as I meet with others. It is a deep, life altering, relationship altering truth, and this truth is, that though people may want or not want us, we are always wanted by a King. We are all wanted by Jesus. We all have a voice, have dignity, hold truth, and are insanely valued, as is. This is the source of courage. This is the source of hope. This is what meets us in heart break and holds us. It is this belief that sets us free to love others. We were not made to be alone. We were made to engage in relationship. We do have deep longings for connection with others. But our identity and value are never at stake in the process.

So as you walk the road in whatever risk stage you’re in relationally, take courage: your value is not up for grabs.

5 thoughts on “Vulnerability, Risk, Relationships and Elliptical Machines

  1. Good article Ms. Jenkins.

    Your observation of women’s vulnerability is discerning. Women have suffered heart break with men for centuries. In American society, the young generation have found ways to progress with this. More young women seem to have accepted the waywardness of men, choosing to have open relationships without commitment. Their response is only a natural one, to protect themselves from risk as you stated.

    It leads me to wonder how we will continue.

    Please visit my blog where I take on these issues: A Reason For Dreamers

  2. Thanks for your comment. I look forward to visiting your blog. There is real heart break for both men and women. Relationships hold within them a great deal of risk and unfortunately we all hide in some form and choose fear and selfishness over courage and selflessness. I pray I can give courage to others to others in this process.

  3. This is very, very good; You are brilliant…and I love it when you write about YOUR story!

    Marcia McCorkell Keller Williams DTC 6300 S. Syracuse Way #150 Englewood, CO 80111

    303-638-8909 cell 303-771-7500 office 303-771-1116 fax

  4. Cari, I am thinking about you as I was reading Friday’s posting. Hope that you are on your way from Utah, with a peace within, knowing that our Lord Jesus is totally in charge of you. And your friends are praying for you for that peace to continue!

    Your Friday posting was GREAT! Wow, it will touch the women who are reading it right where it should, not only in their heart, but in their mind as they ponder their personal relationship with a boyfriend/husband to be, etc. There is so much hurt out there, so many girls have seen so many breakups with friends, family, parents, siblings, grandparents, yikes, it just keeps going on-not too mention their own heart breaks. Yes, we all have value, we are all valuable in the eyes of Jesus.

    Thank you. much love, Lynn Dennehy cell: 703 338 5783 ________________________________________

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