The Handshake, The Side Hug, The Bear Hug: Lessons on Vulnerability with God and People

Once again, in really simple terms, God has laid down a lesson for me in my life. He teaches me in the most simple ways that I wonder at times if this is even God or just my own thoughts. Recently, God’s revelation to me has been about vulnerability, with Him and others.

God has been showing me recently that there are different levels of trust and vulnerability. The first level is the handshake. A handshake is usually something that happens upon first meetings. You are just getting to know the person and you really don’t know who they are yet. Its a simple way to be friendly, but not too forward or open. Handshakes are usually reserved for more proper or formal greetings.

The next level is the side hug. This shows that you know this person and are comfortable, to an extent. You may trust them with some stuff, but other stuff you keep hidden away from them. You may share with them surface level information, maybe even some deeper info, but you won’t share with them certain stuff. That person is your friend, but you wouldn’t call them a brother or a sister.

Finally, we have the bear hug. This hug or level of trust or vulnerability, is reserved for those who you love and are great friends with. You are willing to share with this person almost anything about your life, your family, your circumstances. This person you would call a brother or sister, father or mother, even if not biological. Some of us may not be able to even have this close of a trust with our biological parents or siblings. But each one of us has those people, that we trust a ton. We need those people as human’s to be able to talk about problems, to cry, to be real with. We get to take off the mask with these people and sometimes this leaves us vulnerable.

It takes some of us a lot of time until we get to this point with people. I know for me personally, its hard to trust people with a “bear hug” like trust. I will trust people to a certain point, a lot of people to a side hug, but few people will I truly trust with my whole heart, because I’m afraid I’ll get hurt by leaving myself open and vulnerable, for people to see my wounds and my scars. I don’t want people to see my past. I didn’t want God to see my past for the longest time either.

When I first became a Christian a couple years ago, I truly did trust God with my life. I surrendered my life to Him, but part of me still held on to several things. You see, my trust was broken a lot when I was younger. I put myself out there for people, and they crushed me over and over and over again. I guess for the longest time, I became guarded because of all the hits I took when I tried to be vulnerable with friends. So even back in January 2012, I trusted God, but I didn’t know who He truly was yet, so we did the handshake.

Over time though of spending time in God’s word and spending time with God in prayer, that handshake quickly became a side hug and then to a bear hug. I was down on my knees in worship, crying, as I poured out my heart, my scars, my hurts, to the One who knew them all already. I was vulnerable for the first time in a long time. The funny thing was, I wasn’t hurt. I was healed. And over time, knowing that I wouldn’t be hurt, by being vulnerable with God, allowed me once again to be vulnerable with people.

I guess I still fear at times being hurt by people, but my view is different. I have a different perspective of how vulnerability works and how God views my vulnerability. Being vulnerable with people though is different. Its hard because you know you may get hurt. You know that even the best of friends can take what you have to say and turn that around on you one day. But I know God is not a God of fear. A friend today at church said, “There is no fear in true love. God is love.” How true and encouraging that statement was. I had nothing to fear in my vulnerability. I could experience emotional harm or psychological distress, but in the end, there was someone I could always be vulnerable with, Jesus Christ.

Jesus was vulnerable many times in the Bible. He was vulnerable as a baby. He was vulnerable as He hung on a cross naked, bearing the sins of the world on Himself. Jesus has been through vulnerability, so He understands what it is like for us to be afraid of vulnerability. But He wants us to know today that no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done, we can always approach Him in our most vulnerable of states. We can approach Him as ourselves. We can take off our masks that we put on for people. We can cut out the acts that we perform for people. We can come to Jesus in all our pain, suffering, rejection, hopelessness, fear, anger, confusion. And He will be with us in our vulnerability. He will understand, because He was once vulnerable too.

I’m glad that God taught me this great lesson on vulnerability. It allows me to reach out to more people and not be afraid of being vulnerable, to share with them how God was first vulnerable, so that I could one day come to Him with an absolute trust and vulnerability. To trust someone means that you believe that person is worthy to be trusted with what you would share. Jesus took on the ultimate vulnerability so that we could share in that vulnerability one day in our lives. That we could come and talk to someone that knows everything about us. Its an amazing thing to know that at all times, we have someone we can be completely and totally open with. His name is Jesus Christ and He’s wanting you to be vulnerable with Him today.



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