Love admits failure, admits weakness, shows (meh) vulnerability

by Craig on June 22, 2011

This is precisely where writing with a mask on would come in handy.


But this is the year that I have named “connect” and the mask needs to stay off.

But keeping the mask off means being seen as vulnerable – and maybe weak.

Maybe the last thing any man wants is to be seen as is weak.

There is a marked difference in the way a woman writes – and a man. I chose this blogging community to write in – and be read by – because of the heart behind the words. When I read the words of a woman’s blog and see vulnerability in the writing, it only makes me grow in respect for that woman.

My heart connects with the words as I see myself reflected in them.

But I’m afraid that if I show the same vulnerability…

it will lead to less respect for my words…

and me – as a man.

Does that make sense?

That being said I need to be honest – and even though it scares me like crazy – show some vulnerability …

I have declared this “love war” on the negative voices…

and yesterday the negative voices had me curling up in a ball.

If negative inner voices could laugh there would be no room left in the aisles because of all the rolling…

all the rolling in the aisles from all of their laughing.

The posty note strategy…
of listening to the negative voices…
in order to identify them…
in order to defeat them…
it’s necessary… (here)

but yesterday…
I was left defeated…


At the end of the day I didn’t want to write today’s post.

Do I pretend that I have mastery over these negative inner voices…
And thus appear strong, but be a hypocrite.

Or do I admit a weakness, and yesterday’s failure – and risk disqualifying my voice.

What do I want to do?

I want to throw on the mask and pretend I have conquered any negative inner voices, that my confidence is unbounded, that I’m unshakable, I’m unafraid, I’m unassailable.

That’s what I’ve done all my life.
Show the world bravado.
Show the world confidence.
Show the world strength.


Whimper only on the inside.

The truth is this.

Yesterday, the negative, inner, critical voices – I fought them hard during the day – but by six o’clock they were waving a victory flag. I disconnected from the interwebs, from the world, closed the blinds, escaped into watching a ballgame, ate my failure, wanted to hide, wanted to bury my head in a pillow.

There I was, leading this war against the negative voices, and being shot down in plain sight at the beginning of the battle.

But I remembered something…
I remembered that I wrote not very long ago…
that prayer is crucial for this war.

I prayed, not long, but hard, and honestly.
The prayer – better counted in words then sentences…
boiled down and ended with this one word…



As of last night I was still broken.
As of the predawn hours when I began writing this I was still defeated.
It’s only now…

as I hit the publish button…

that I “feel”…

that help is beginning to arrive…

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa notes... June 22, 2011 at 10:38 am

I think all of us who read your words do appreciate your vulnerability, Craig. Because we can all relate. We don’t think of you as weaker; we think of you as one of us. Even in the midst of our Christian walk of victory, we still can feel so defeated. I know I do at times. But your prayer of “Help!” is a powerful one. So thankful that you are beginning to feel it coming… Praying for you right now…


Craig June 22, 2011 at 1:57 pm

that is good to know Lisa. Because that IS the real me. I’m not a wimp – but I’m “feel-y”. That’s the way I want to write – to be open to be honest to be vulnerable – maybe it’s a cultural thing – maybe that’s the thing that makes me worry that if I show vulnerability I lose “man” cred. And I forget which Church father said it but it was one of the very early ones 100 200 300 A.D. – he said that we seldom need to say anything more in our prayer to our Father then “help”.

God bless you Lisa – and thank you.


Elaine June 22, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Welcome to the vulnerable side. Isn’t it lighter here? God is so near to the broken hearted (Psalm 34;18) I pray you’ll feel His nearness today.


Craig June 22, 2011 at 2:00 pm

it IS lighter on the vulnerable side. It’s more honest. I heart the vulnerable side! And thank you for praying – because I do need to stay near Him – the negative internal voices may come from a number of places but the one place they don’t come from is heaven. Thank you Elaine. And God bless and keep you.


tinuviel June 22, 2011 at 1:09 pm

We all know that defeated feeling, even if not all admit to it. The Lord holds fast to you even when you can’t hold on any longer to Him. Praying for grace and healing for you.


Craig June 22, 2011 at 2:04 pm

am I right in thinking that we are all so much more broken then we let out – especially in public. And the church – shouldn’t that be a place where broken people can gather together and use “God” glue to keep everything working better – but it’s so often a mask-y place. Thank you for reading this – and taking the time to comment – because I really do need to hear that it is okay to be vulnerable with my words – and that they might not make people run for the hills. God bless you – and thank you.


happygirl June 22, 2011 at 1:22 pm

And women are allowed to be vulnerable? Yeah, I guess they are. I have never been comfortable in that role. Welcome to the feeling pool. (how come the only thing I can think of now is the commercial for bc with the yellow bathing suits) Just kidding. I like a strong man, that can admit he has feelings. They just need to be translated ’cause they come out in a different language. :) thanks


Craig June 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm

of course women are allowed to be vulnerable! That’s the reason why, when I read a post from a woman – and the inside flows out through the words – and the inside might be insecure and hurt – that’s the reason I read that and heart it so much. and I admire it so much.I am definitely a guy’s guy – but I have a very strong “feel-y” side. I’ve been in the – as you put it – “feeling pool” a long time – it’s the way I write – it’s the way I think – my heart leads – my reason plays catch-up. The fact that you were nice enough to leave this comment for me makes me think that it might – just might – just maybe – be okay to keep the masks dropped. Thank you – and God bless you.


Megan (Best of Fates) June 22, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Trust me – it’s scary for the women of the blogosphere to reveal vulnerability too. It’s always frightening, the idea of being judged.

But if you don’t risk it, then you’ll never be helped.


Craig June 22, 2011 at 8:41 pm

that is a good thing to hear Megan – but trust me – before deciding to write in this community that is dominated by women – I read hundreds of male written Christian blogs – none of them had the heart that this community has as a norm. I have yet to fins a male written blog that reads with the real vulnerability and honesty of the heart that I find here every. single. day. It inspires me to write better – and more real. And I am taking to heart your last statement – if I don’t risk it, then I’ll never be helped. Thank you Megan. And keep writing. You have a gift. God bless you.


Cora June 22, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Craig, I for one find the whole feeling thing and vulnerability thing in men an attribute. That’s why I’ve stuck around here. There’s a lot of “blah-blah-blah” out there. I try to read it, try to find the depth of what is being said, thinking that God MUST have something for me, and before you know it, I hit the back button and go somewhere else. I have never, ever thought of you as weak, nor have I ever thought of anyone who is honest about life as weak or mushy. (Only me!)

I hate to admit it, but it does really seem that the war is getting worse, only because we all declared war on negative thoughts. It seemed once I started writing down the thoughts I wanted to get rid of, those are the ones I’m fighting more than ever before. I think we call them “strongholds???” I loved your photo of the HELP! I’ve been in the same place this week, wanting to throw in the towel. And believe it or not, the last straw for me was going outside and finding my car covered with buzzard poop. It threw me over the edge. Every negative thought that ever settled into my life came into play to the point I was ready to give up on everything and everybody in my life.

So I’m with you — I’m writing my HELP in the sand, too!


Craig June 22, 2011 at 8:48 pm

first of all, isn’t it funny that we find it so easy to encourage others – and yet withhold those same words of encouragement from ourselves. Something tells me that you and I both share this trait. That kind of has to go too :-)

And I’ve had that same experience with the “blah blah theology” – theology with a heart – that’s what I find in this community – that’s why I heart this community so much.

And I thought you were getting rid of those buzzards?

And the voices? Maybe they are getting a little pissy right now – because of this declared war. But there is no better time than the present to get a handle on them – and to defeat them – every war has retreats. Maybe this is the darkness before dawn. God bless you Cora.


Grace Walker June 22, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Craig, Hope on over and read this: I hope you’ll find some encouragement there! I appreciate your vulnerability. I think it takes real guts to write what you write—guts that most guys are too afraid to find let alone acknowledge. Keep it up! Hugs and blessings to you, friend.


Craig June 22, 2011 at 8:51 pm

grace – it’s been one of those no good, terrible, horrible, very bad days –grrrrrrrrr – I hate those days. So tonight there’s just about all I have in me just to answer all the comments that were left today. Tomorrow I promise I’ll read where your link leads. And I appreciate that you shared something that you think I can find helpful. I heart that.

And the vulnerability thing – if you say that it doesn’t make me sound whiny and weak – then I will keep it up. Thank you. And lastly, “hugs and blessings” – that was just about the most perfect thing for me to hear today. God bless you!


Julie @ OnePennyJumblePacket June 22, 2011 at 7:07 pm

What a fantastic post! Thank you for sharing this. Yes, being honest means that you are more vulnerable. It’s easier to brush off criticism when it’s not founded on anything real. It’s harder to ignore comments when you’ve put your real self into something you’ve created. On the other hand, unlocking the door means that you can let company in. You also free yourself from the confines of whatever’s been holding you back.

But is vulnerable the same as weak? I would disagree. Choosing vulnerability in order to be honest, in order to find a connection with someone else — that’s courageous.

Bravo! Well done!


Craig June 22, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Julie, thank you for your thoughts. They’re words to ponder. I heart learning from my comments section – and there’s a lot in your comment learn from. I’ll share another little moment of weakness – a vulnerability – when I read a comment like yours – and it really hits my heart – the eyes – they get a little tiny bit watery :-) I might be afraid a little bit to be considered week if I’m vulnerable in my writing – but swimming in the pool of “feel-y-ness” – well I swim there all the time. Thank you for your words of encouragement. Thank you. And God bless and keep you!


Kristin June 22, 2011 at 8:17 pm

I agree with all these comments. I also appreciate your vulnerability and the strength it takes to do so. I understand the vulnerability. I mention it at the top of my blog. If being this way can help just one person, it is worth it. And I am thinking here, that you have and are helping many! I appreciate every word I have seen here on your blogs, and always look forward to the next one. Keep up the good work! :)
Blessings to you and praying for you!


Craig June 22, 2011 at 8:58 pm

I remember reading that, Kristin, the first time I read your blog. I remember feeling right then that your blog IS a success – because it helped me. And thank you for praying – that is one of the great gifts of connection in this bloggy world– I heart that! And thank you for your kind words. I can be a little less afraid of the vulnerability, knowing that it doesn’t make you run for the hills :-) thank you again, and God bless you!


Mama Zen June 22, 2011 at 9:47 pm

This is marvelous writing, full of the only kind of strength that really matters. Thank you for sharing yourself.


Craig June 23, 2011 at 10:54 am

Thank you first for your kind words Kelli, it’s not that I feel “weak” by “feeling” – I swim in the pool of feel-y. I was worried about the cultural thing – and is it ok – as a man – to present yourself as a “feel-y pool” swimmer. And what you wrote – that’s encouraging. Thank you – and God Bless.


Shanda Oakley June 22, 2011 at 10:40 pm

I, too, suffer from giving in to negative thoughts. And that usually ends up in words that do not glorify God. It is a constant struggle. But we have to keep trying.
Thank you for opening up your heart. My husband is also sensitive and writes very well. It is a gift for a man to share this way.


Craig June 23, 2011 at 11:37 am

Shanda, does your hubs have his own site – or does he write on yours? I still have yet to read a male written blog with the intensity, and heart, and authenticity that almost every female written blog has. I’d like to read this man who writes like this! And these negative thoughts – these enter, critical, stupid, mean, nasty negative voices – it really is time for them to go! Thank you Shanda, thank you, and God bless and keep you.


Michelle June 22, 2011 at 11:49 pm

There is strength in vulnerability. For only the truly strong are able to be vulnerable. And that strength comes from our Creator. So, Craig, continue to show your vulnerability.

(sorry I’ve not been regular lately with my reading, my computer has a power supply problem and refuses to stay on – I’m using hubby’s today – but he promises he can look at and probably replace my power tonight, so I will be back to my normal reading.)


Craig June 23, 2011 at 11:00 am

I think that’s really nice of you to let me know about the computer power problem. Thank you for that. I miss you when you’re gone! And if I am reflecting a “strength which comes from our Creator” then I will continue to be – meh – vulnerable with my words. God bless you Michelle.


Debbie June 23, 2011 at 2:16 am

Thank you for your honesty, Craig. We need that from you and you need to be able to be honest and vulnerable. Your blog is a safe place for that. :) And God, I think He hearts that too, from you. Praying for you as the negative voices try to take over, that they WILL be pinned to the wall instead.
God bless you and cover you in His strength and love today!


Craig June 23, 2011 at 11:02 am

first of all, thank you for the prayer, prayer has to be the very first line of defense against negative voices – how quickly I forget what I write. And even that can be turned into a negative voice – I can feel one waiting in the wings – so there goes another post-y :) an opportunity in the disguise of the negative voice. “STUPID!” goes up on the wall. Thank you for your encouragement Debbie – from the very beginning – and I treasure it – God bless you.


Laura Hegfield June 23, 2011 at 6:21 am

You do not know me, but I can tell you this…it is not easy for a woman to show her vulnerability either and yet, somehow, some of us have learned over time that this is precisely where our strength dwells…(and yes, there are other men in on this secret too!) For it takes more courage to be honest, open, raw than it does to pretend everything is “OK” when it isn’t…it takes tremendous strength to ask for help when we are in the depths of despair, suffering, struggling…it takes faith and trust and release of the desire to shape, organize, shape the world and our circumstances to “look” the way we think they should. Living wholeheartedly is hard…but so much more rewarding than pretending that all is “fine” when it is not. The space between despair and healing is where we meet the Divine…scared-sacred…right there in that – space.

Thank you for opening your heart and admitting that you are struggling, that is a HUGE first step to experiencing peace and true strength of being. This is ABSOULUTELY a sign of bravery! Forget what you were taught as a boy, that crying is for babies and girls, that tears are a weakness…they reveal your deepest courage, they are real and honest and beautiful.

May you feel safe, happy, strong and experience ease as you dive more deeply into the ocean of tears that must flow for you to grow as a human being.

gentle steps

ps You might feel encouraged by a recent post at my blog: in which I sing a song inspired by psalm 121…a favorite of mine when I am feeling tiny and longing for strength from the Holy ONE of Blessing.


Craig June 23, 2011 at 11:10 am

I do “know” you – I’ve read you a few times – I’ve commented once or twice too. We come from a little different spiritual perspective – but I know that we respect each other’s spirituality. I heart that. I know enough, and have read enough, to read your words carefully and intently. I heart your wisdom!

and to show the difference AND the similarity in our spiritual approach – and I write this with a smile – you put it this way,”The space between despair and healing is where we meet the Divine…scared-sacred…right there in that – space.” ——— I put it, “in our weakness – HE is a strong”. :-)

and because of your words – I think I will be less afraid to be honest, open, authentic. God bless you Laura – and thank you.


Laura Hegfield June 23, 2011 at 11:18 am

Your welcome, and thank you Craig…my memory is not very good anymore, so please forgive me for not remembering your comments.

sending you peaceful, healing thoughts and intentions.


alittlebitograce June 23, 2011 at 7:40 am

Dear Craig;
Just wanted to let you know that as I read this, I prayed for you. Yesterday was hard for me too and I understand all too well what you described. I am so thankful that God answers those desperate please for help.
Praying for you,

P.S Currently all of my blog posts are written by me. Steve is an admin for many reasons, mainly his awesome tech prowess. If he were to post or comment, it comes up as Steve VB. Thanks for your words of encouragement.


Craig June 23, 2011 at 11:13 am

oh, thank you for the prayer. Prayer is critical. I’ve not been very connected with the body of Our Lord in the past – so I’m still getting used to people praying for me – but I heart it. Thank you. And it’s so true – that when we are down – IF we remember to go to Our Lord– we get all wordy – telling him what he already knows – when sometimes maybe just a simple four letter word does the job H-E-L-P. thank you again, and God bless you this day.


Cindy June 23, 2011 at 7:46 am

Good morning Craig…ahhh, those fears, those negative voices…I think of how Jesus is the epitome of masculinity, and how he let it “hang out all over the place” and NEVER with a mask (by the way, the apples with the sticky note masks are just too funny! Enough humor and distance to see the truth, enough humor and truth to encourage the taking down of the masks.) I know the negative voices never end, but the ones that come from our own self can be healed and “turned to the light” : ). I for one am contemplating a post about the fears, the voices that assail me…because this week I was being so assaulted…and one of the voices (but it could be true, I have to let the Lord tell me) was telling me very negative things about the counseling materials I am writing and posting for the new site…I look at your comment(s) often as a source of encouragement…so thanks for being a voice of vulnerability, honesty, and TRUE strength in this land…



Craig June 23, 2011 at 11:19 am

VERY GOOD POINT! Our Lord Wasn’t afraid to let his heart lay on the sleeve of his tunic. And I want to be like him – very good point Cindy!

And I heart those apples too! Too funny! thank you for noticing – and mentioning.

Cindy – I think you made a point that I’ll be getting to later about the voices – some of them may very well be true – and may very will need to be listened too. The bunch of postings on the wall are going to have to be dealt with – and maybe rearranged – and definitely re-translated. And one of the questions I have to ask of each one is “is there a kernel of truth in this?” That you are wise enough to know this makes me thankful that I got to read your comment. God bless you Cindy.


Craig June 23, 2011 at 11:27 am

and oh, I just figured out what you meant by looking at my “comments” as a source of encouragement – thank you for that – thank you. That makes me smile. Funny how we can be so good at encouraging others – and so bad at encouraging ourselves. God bless!


bluecottonmemory June 23, 2011 at 10:50 am

A wise man recognizes his vulnerability. I imagine many soldiers of The Great Generation battled those same battles – not only the physical, but the spiritual, too. That is what makes a man (or woman) couragous – they realize who they face in battle. They might lose a few skirmishes, retreat and reorganize – but they always go back into the fray, not giving up. What is that saying about a soldier in the trenches coming face to face with God and realizing he needs help? A soldier of God in battle calling on God – ’cause he cannot do it on his own? I don’t think women sometimes realize the battles our men have and as a result, don’t realize their courage, strength and faith. Thanks for bringing the truth in the open.


Craig June 23, 2011 at 11:24 am

anyone who knows me well knows that I am uber comfortable with “feelings” – I was not so concerned that I was feeling them – I was more concerned that as a man I might not be able to express them without appearing weak and wimpy. I heart all the comments that have told me it’s not the case. Someone, I can’t remember who, commented “A wise man recognizes his vulnerability.” :)

and so true – retreat is sometimes part of war – and this is war. Thank you Maryleigh, and God bless and keep you.


Melissa S June 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm

you have spoken “me” so well. I struggle with being vulnerable as well, and find that blogging has been the healthiest start. Thanks for sharing you.


Craig June 24, 2011 at 11:35 am

Melissa, I’m writing, her,e things that I have never told anyone. And it’s not like I’m hiding behind some anonymous avatar – it’s me – and everybody knows it’s me – and there can’t be any faking – people I know read this blog.

Melissa it’s nice to know that what speaks to me – speaks to you too. God bless and keep you and all of yours.


imperfect prose June 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm

i am so glad you wrote this, craig. we are the church. we need each other, no matter our gender. i pray strength for you brother, as you fight those voices…


Craig June 25, 2011 at 9:59 am

thank you Emily, your thoughtful comments always mean so much. And thank you for your prayer – the inner, critical, negative voices have hounded me for a long time – they hound a lot of people. I hope this series helps some. I hope it helps me. But nothing can or should happen without the first line of defense – prayer. Thank you Emily, and God bless you.


Shanda Oakley June 23, 2011 at 4:46 pm

No, he doesn’t have a blog but I have been trying to get him to start. He does write a lot!


Nancy June 24, 2011 at 9:13 am

Most of the men I’ve met in blog-world write poetry. I don’t write poetry. There’s a depth of vulnerability there that scares me. The church needs the kind of vulnerability you wrote about; after all, it’s in our weaknesses that Christ is most glorified. And that prayer of yours? Why, that’s a very familiar one around here.


Craig June 24, 2011 at 11:38 am

Well – I’m not counting the guys who write poetry. They are definitely a “feel-y” bunch – and not afraid to show the vulnerability.and Amen Nancy – it’s nice to know that we share the same one word prayer. Thank you, and God bless and keep you.


Mike McArthur June 26, 2011 at 9:36 am

Hi Craig,
I can identify with the vulnerability issue as a man. I have noticed the distinct difference between women and men bloggers and it seems a shame that there is not more ‘crossover’ in writing styles. I often find myself wishing I could see the real guy behind some of the blogs I read – they say some great stuff about God but I really want to know how they interact with God on the bad days as well as the good theology.

A phrase of Ann Voskamp’s keeps niggling at me as I blog myself: “I want to hear your messy story, not your sermon”. So I am trying to edge closer to the messy story in my writing, but this does come at the cost of revealing weakness and the parallel issue of how much is appropriate to share publicly.

The mask I have worn for most of my life is now causing a lot of trouble for me, I have forgotten who I really am and behind the facade something is broken but it is hard to find it with armour bolted on tight. Some of that armour can come of in public, some parts need to be taken off and seen by only those closest to me, but all of it has to be removed, preferably before everything is laid bare before God on the last day.


Craig June 26, 2011 at 9:49 am

one man to another, Mike, and I have read you by the way – I agree. What is lacking from our gender’s blogging is the heart in the writing, as you quoted from Ann, “the messy story”. But it is hard for us. I really think it comes down to the fact that we want to appear strong – I guess it’s kind of animal thing – and we should be above animal thing – the appearance of strength always as a protection device. But if we’re not real – why bother writing? Thank you Mike. And God bless and keep you and each and every one of yours today.


Mari June 26, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Thank you for the vulnerability. The negative voices don’t discriminate gender, race, age, or status. Part of winning the battle is exposing them to the light as you are so bravely doing here. Carry on the battle!


Craig June 27, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Mari, thank you for the encouragement. I know I can’t be the only one fighting the inner critical negative voices, but I am definitely one. Exposing darkness to light is always a good thing – I forget sometimes that THE light is on my side – and I need to rely more on THE light. How easily we forget. I will carry on the battle (◠‿◠) thank you – and God bless and keep you and all of yours Mari.


Brandee Shafer June 26, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Craig, I wish you’d been with us in church this morning. Our pastor talked about spiritual warfare. We all hear those nasty voices in our minds. I don’t know about you, but I’m realizing I need to work on my “whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6). God bless you, Brother. You did the right thing in turning to the Lord in prayer.

The great thing about being vulnerable, in this forum, is that I truly believe most of our readers will offer advice, breathe a word of prayer, or both. You’re in a great blogging community. I am vulnerable before my friends so as to gain strength in fighting Satan.


Craig June 27, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Brandee – at the outset of this “love war” the armor of God with a focus – you’re so right – whether the voices come from ourselves – as echoes of our past or whether they come from the Evil One and his minions, the armor is a good thing to keep on. And prayer – why do we always forget prayer as a first line of defense against anything. Silly. And I think you’re right – of all the bloggy communities to be in – this is the one where it is safest to reveal your heart. I heart this community. And I heart that you read me today – thank you Brandee, and God bless you.


A. June 27, 2011 at 1:48 pm

I am glad help is only one word away! And in a storm, it is the vulnerable people who are the most help! I am so glad you are one of them!


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