Vulnerable. Transparent. These are words that most of us don’t like to talk about, especially to complete strangers. Maybe to a certain few “trusted” individuals do we share our trials, tribulations or hardships with. It is hard to open up. It is hard to throw oneself out there hoping that someone won’t stomp on it and crush us even more. Sometimes it is just easier to say everything is fine and move on to superficial conversation.
But what happens during those times we are open? Well, sometimes something special occurs and wonderful bond is formed. Is it easy? Never. Is it fun to share your hurts, pains, failures and continuing struggles? Not for one second. In fact, it may feel like we are going against our nature. Our very nature to protect and preserve ourselves tells us to not open up. It may feel like suicide on our self-protection. We’re not supposed to feel this way. We’re not supposed to hurt. We feel like we need to fit in with everyone else’s wonderful life.
Yet, when we take that leap, that huge leap of faith and confide in someone our hurt, our struggles, our pain, our journey a very special relationship forms. I (Matt, now 33) have grown up around the same six or seven guys my whole life. I thought we had a great friendship. Never had any problems or fights, just typical guys enjoying life. But somewhere inside of me, deep inside, I felt something was missing. I could never put my finger on it until I moved away from my “closest” friends that I had known for 20+ years.
Two years ago it finally hit me and I didn’t even know it. As part of a men’s Bible study at our church in Fort Worth, TX, we were formed into smaller groups called “running groups”. The purpose of these groups was to do life together and share life. But it didn’t start off easy. After months of going to a class for single adults at church, I felt so alone. In a city that I knew no one. I kept going and thought about quitting almost every week. But I kept going; sometimes the guilt of not doing a routine kills me. I started going the men’s Bible study and after a rocky and lonely couple of months, things changed.
We started a book called “Soul Revolution” by John Burke which called study groups to break down into smaller groups. This started our journey of running this adventure together. With two other guys, we had to be willing to be open with each other, to be vulnerable, to share our toughest struggles and tell them what we would share with no one else. Some of the groups did well, some were not so willing. The thing is it wouldn’t have worked if each of us didn’t take the challenge to heart and truly lay down our self-protection and didn’t share our real struggles. It wouldn’t have worked if we judged each other. It was truly a free place to share, confess and be heard. It was also a place to offer hope and help your brothers. It wasn’t about problem-solving (which I hear is what men like to do), but listening and learning. It was also about hearing that you are not alone. In a world full of sin, sometimes we are our worst enemy; we were reminded that unfortunately others had the same struggle. Unfortunate because I never want anybody to struggle with sin. But it was somehow comforting to know I am not in this fight alone.
As we started, the instructions were clear. This wasn’t one of those slowly put your toe in the pool to see how cold it was. There was no constant temperature check of easing yourself into the icy pool. It was all or nothing, jumping in with your best belly flop. We shared, we listened, and we hurt. Failures and pains brought back up. But as we continued over the following weeks, something changed. We weren’t strangers or even acquaintances. We became brothers. This flowed over for me into a few other relationships of being honest with other guys. So somehow in a matter of months, I felt closer to these guys that I knew for a few months than I did my friends back home. But to be honest, I didn’t try hard enough to be open and vulnerable with my friends back home. I shared something’s on occasion but we were just not at that point.
So as we continue this journey or adventure, our plan is to be as completely honest and vulnerable with you as we can. We will fail. We will make mistakes. You will hear how we are struggling with our hurts and pains. Trials and tribulations. I can’t promise you it will be the most uplifting or encouraging thing to read, but it will be a part of our life. We thank you for listening and for reading what is truly on our hearts. Life is tough but God is good. Always.
We are Matt and Rachel. We have been married since December 17, 2011 and a few weeks later left the comforts of home for a new adventure in Illinois. We both grew up in church and have trusted Jesus for our salvation. Along the way, we have strayed. We haven’t always lived as we should. We have made mistakes. But by the grace of God, he has righted our ship.
Each of us has faced many trials and tribulations. We have faced them before our time together and during our first few months of marriage. As hard as those times were, we wouldn’t trade them because during those trials, God has revealed so much about Him to us. He has taught us so much and caused us to rely on Him more and truly see what is important in life.
We are not pastors or claim to be. We do not have theology degrees. We are just two simple people who have endured and persevered. We have devoted our lives to Christ and His will. We love God and love talking about Him. We don’t claim to know all the answers or even a good percentage. We are just trying to figure out how to love God better and love others well. we have been brought on this journey together and our purpose is to walk in the Spirit loving and serving God.
Rachel is from Missouri and Matt is from Texas.