Building Relationships: The Power of Vulnerability

Being in veterinary school, it's easy to put all your effort into trying to be the best doctor you can be-- getting the diagnosis right the first time, successfully interpreting the radiograph, completing a near-perfect surgery ... but lately, I've had to remind myself of what really matters: People. Connecting with people. And this is true whether you're a doctor, plumber, lawyer, or a hair stylist. If you really want to change the world, you have to change people's lives. And I'm not just talking in a social or faith life. Actually, I believe it makes a huge difference in business. After listening to multiple business leadership podcasts, I've learned that healthy, encouraging relationships within the workplace ultimately fulfill basic psychological needs (belongingness, self-esteem, and self-actualization) within individual staff, and consequently increase overall team productivity, effectiveness, and quality of care/work of the business.

Think about it-- how much time do you spend putting effort into making meaningful relationships with coworkers, clients, supervisors, teachers, classmates, neighbors, etc.? If you're like me, you may spend a lot of your time finding faults and lack in your environment and your friends, and consequently feel frustrated with the people around you. But God has been showing me to instead seek my greatness through others, and to think of EVERYONE as equals, as they are seen in God's eyes! It's important for me to come to a place where I recognize my role is to serve everyone around me-- friend, foe, tech, doctor-- after first loving God and myself. I love God first because he's the one who gave me everything-- my life, my family, my health, my education, etc. Without Him, there and I would be nothing. And I love myself before others because if I didn't, it would be idolatry. Only when I love God and myself can I then have the emotional capacity to constantly love others. With this "renewing of my mind" (Romans 12:2), I'm eager to "love my neighbor as myself" (Mark 12:31), whether it's a client, classmate, or brother.

"Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble." 1 Peter 3:8

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."

1 Thessalonians 5:11

"No one should seek their own good, but the good of others."

1 Corinthians 10:24

"Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:1-2

Okay so you want to be more intentional about your relationships. But what does that look like? I've learned that there are many things that factor into a cultivating close relationships with others, but one of utmost importance is vulnerability. Vulnerability is the key to intimacy. There's something that's truly profound when someone shares their weaknesses and insecurities with you. Proverbs 28:13 agrees: "Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy". Vulnerability demonstrates a sense of trust and humility. So often, we fear vulnerability because we're afraid of rejection or afraid to show weakness. While we may try to appear perfect, strong or intelligent in order to connect with others, in actuality, it often has the opposite effect intended-- our pride drives people away and leaves us lonely, depressed, disconnected, and unfulfilled.

For some people, opening up is easy. But if you're like me, it is extremely difficult. And oddly enough, I'm more likely to become vulnerable with my clients than my friends (as self-observed during a school client simulation assignment). Why is this, I don't know, but it's probably related to pride. Not long ago, I came to the realization that I wasn't actually close to my school friends. I see them everyday and have done almost every activity with them, however I would never go to them for emotional support. My church family, on the other hand, is the opposite. Even though I've only hung out with a couple of them one-on-one once or twice, they would be the first people I call if I needed help. Why? Because we regularly become vulnerable with each other...every Tuesday night! We share our weaknesses, our doubts, our triumph and our sadness. Because I've shared with them my heart, I trust them with my heart. And I believe it's partly due to our habit of being vulnerable with one another (the other part is because we all love and have our lives revolve around the same thing: the Lord).

So my challenge to you AS WELL as myself is to be more vulnerable with people. And this looks different for everyone! For my dad, it's not being afraid to say, "I was wrong". For me, it's opening up to friends and not avoiding "deep" conversations (also partly why I decided to put the link to my blog onto my IG bio, which was very difficult). For some, it might going the extra mile to serve someone else (complete their paperwork for them, buy them a Starbucks, etc)

. For others, it might be sacrificing time at work or school to cultivate a relationship with a friend in need. Whatever it is, God will reveal it to you if you ask.

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

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