By Aaron Evans
That’s a word every one of us gets slapped in the face with the minute we set foot on campus. It’s everywhere. We are told that Asbury’s close-knit community is what sets us apart from all the other small, liberal arts schools out there, but do we really understand how powerful community is?
No, I don’t think we do.
We have all embraced the surface form of Asbury’s community, like hall events, chapel and extra-curricular activities. But how deep do our relationships with other people go? How much of the community are we actually embracing? Beneath the fun, surface-level activities we do, there is a powerful aspect of community that makes most of us uncomfortable.
Within the past few months, I have not only seen the fruit of vulnerability in my own life, but in the lives of those around me. There have been situations in my life that would have never been resolved if I was never vulnerable with someone else. And believe me, vulnerability is one of the hardest things to practice. We all have this image of ourselves we like to maintain. We dress a certain way, talk a certain way and act a certain way because it’s how we shape our identity, but when we open up about our struggles to other people, suddenly that image slips through our fingers and it’s terrifying. Now that person sees the parts of us that we hate, and before we know it, we become overwhelmed with shame because we are not measuring up to our own expectations. Because those expectations are not met, we fear rejection.
If you don’t read another word, know this: with vulnerability comes healing.
Whenever I hear people say, “you can never do it on your own,” I always assume they mean you need God to help you instead of trying to conquer your personal struggles on your own. But it doesn’t just stop at you and God. Often, God uses other people in the process.
There are so many people who hold their struggles in and bottle up the things they are going through. But when we begin to trust those whom God has placed in our lives and become open with them about ourselves, that is when the healing will come. When we admit our sturggles and shame to ourselves and to those we care about, we are forced to face it. When we see that the people in our lives remain unchanged in their perception of us, that is when we realize that there is actually nothing to be ashamed of. With the removal of shame comes the process of healing.
Asbury has a beautiful community full of genuine, caring people. I have seen so much healing not only in my life, but in my friends’ lives as well, because we were open and vulnerable with each other. So, I encourage anyone reading this to open yourself up to the community in which God has placed you, whether it’s two people or two hundred people. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:16, “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”