What if you could be vulnerable?

Dan and I planted a little weeping blue spruce in our front yard two years ago. Some might say she looks a bit Dr. Seuss-ish, but I think she’s beautiful.

For Christmas, we wrapped her in a string of lights, but in the dark, the tree appears to be droopier … as if she can’t bear up under the weight of the tiny white lights.

Dr. Brené Brown once said:

Vulnerability is not about winning, and it’s not about losing. It’s about having the courage to show up and be seen. … It’s tough to do that when you’re terrified about what people might see or think.

Dr. Brené Brown

This describes our little weeping blue spruce. She shows up every day. Courageously. And doesn’t care what people think of her.

It was Nanea Hoffman who said:

I hope you remember that when you let people see the messy, flawed, goofy reality of you, it’s like you’re giving them a gift. Some people won’t appreciate it, but others will smile with relief and recognition and say, “Oh, thank GOODNESS. I’m not the only one!”

Nanea Hoffman

We’re all flawed and messy and bent out of shape. But here’s the thing: we shouldn’t be afraid to show this imperfect side because it’s what makes us real.

Being open about who we are and what we struggle with is risky. What if the person you’re being honest with doesn’t handle your vulnerable self with carefulness? What if that person stomps on the heart you’ve just opened to them? That’s risky stuff.

But not taking those risks, not opening our hearts to be loved—or stomped on—is far worse than risking love and being loved in return.

The epic risk God took

God took a big risk. And, of course, because he is God and not bound by time, he knew it would turn out badly. He knew his heart would get broken. And yet he made himself vulnerable. He opened his heart to having kids, but also to experiencing pain from those very same kids.

It’s always worth the risk to let people in. Because when we carry people closely in our hearts, not held at arm’s length, and when we reveal who we really are and what we grapple with—which could cause people to proclaim, “What? You too?!”—well, that kind of courage enlarges our lives.

I don’t know if our little weeping blue spruce has overheard comments from people walking up to our front door: “What an odd-looking tree,” but she’s never mentioned any insults. She doesn’t seem to care that she can’t stand tall and straight. And so, I keep telling her how beautiful and brave she is.

If I could give you a New Year’s gift for 2024, it would be the courage to share your real self. I want you to not fear being defenseless at times, to not be afraid to ask for help. I want for you the gift of bravery and resilience.


Opening all the holiday gifts


Jeep Wranglers, dump dates, and stuff


  1. Michael Mallory

    To my beautiful sister,

    It’s always nice to read your newsletters. I especially enjoy the mountain scenery that is usually in the background.

    PS – I disagree with your Chai latte statement. I think you are a Chai latte connoisseur.

  2. Dave McDowell

    Marlys & Dan,
    You “2” are a lot of what we miss about Bend when the Lord said go to Tennessee “for your boys.” My last best memory of Dan was when he was under my 2004 Ford F-350 at Family Camp installing a new alternator 😂.

    We miss the “clear” water rivers and lakes (I hear we have a few in Tennessee) but the Lord did not send us here so Grandpa could go fishing 😊. We miss getting to know you both together better as we miss our daughter, son in law and 2 grand kiddos in Snohomish, WA.

    We hope to make the big journey west to see all our friends but just in case maybe you could make one of your memories coming to Tennessee 😊!

    God bless you both as we enter 2024!

    Dave, Nancy, Grayson & Isaiah
    Murfreesboro, Tennessee

  3. Joe albert

    Excellent excellent Marlys! It’s the essence of a true relationship. Thanks

    • Marlys Lawry

      Well said, Joe: “It’s the essence of a true relationship.” Thank you

  4. Yes, junkyard or boneyard. What a great contrast and spiritual insight. Thank you, sweet sister, in the Lord.

  5. Hello Marlys,
    Great subject and great timing as we’re inside our houses and can daily see our “stuff”- whether material or emotional. Then I laughed out loud at your metaphorical blue spruce! Well done. Great read.

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