When I finally made it home, I headed straight to our bedroom. I lay on the bed, pulled the covers over me, and closed my eyes. I tried to rest, but my mind couldn’t settle. My prayer in the food court about letting people in came to mind. I found myself at the same crossroads of deciding whether to muster up self-sufficient strength and go all Christian Rambo—just me and Jesus—or take the braver route to open my heart and let people into my fear. My Asian heritage and cultural value of “don’t rock the boat” or “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down” amplified my struggle of not wanting to bother people with my problems. I saw this dynamic played out over and over with my family and my Asian friends. One friend tweaked her back so badly she could barely walk. We had planned to have people over for a luncheon. I suggested we order out for pizza so she could rest.
“Oh no, it’s okay. I’ll be fine.”
“No, seriously, we can cancel the whole thing or have someone bring the food. You can barely move!”
But instead of letting others help, I watched her push through the pain, and she hosted a small army in her house with a smile on her face. It was dishonorable and shameful to put people out or bring attention to themselves. I imagined the Asian Martha Stewart had similar thoughts. She ended up deciding against burdening others with her emotional struggles. I did not want my story to end like hers.
Transparency is the willingness to share about difficulties one has undergone after the fact. Vulnerability is sharing difficulties raw, in real-time, without the lesson-learned end of the story. I was comfort- able with transparency. Mostly.
Vulnerability? Not so much.
–Excerpt from chapter 1: we, us (x5) Warrior In Pink
Happy October. This month of pink feels especially significant as it marks the five year point of finishing active treatment for breast cancer and it also happens to be the first Breast Cancer Awareness month following the release of my first book, Warrior In Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community and the God Who Comforts (DHP). The excerpt I shared is a common struggle among people—the idea of not wanting to inconvenience others, our tendency to isolate when faced with difficulties, the myth “Just me and Jesus is enough” but I think for Asian American women leaders, the tendency to be the strong one is underscored because of our cultural values.
My strong encouragement for our AAWOL community is YES, lean into God, but also let others in.
After my cancer battle I read the Bible with new lenses. Verses I thought were familiar became more meaningful after experiencing true community.
Therefore, since WE have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding US, let US also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles US, and let US run with endurance the race that is set before US. (Hebrews 12:1 NASB)
God designed you and me to live in close intimate connection with Him and with others. Learning to trust Him and to trust others is a worthwhile lifelong endeavor.
How are you doing in the area of vulnerability?
(My publisher has generously made available a free copy of Warrior In Pink to the winner of the first AAWOL book giveaway. To enter simply leave a comment in the comment section below. A winner will be selected in one week and notified in the comment section. Please help pass along this opportunity. If you don’t win this giveaway, check on my website for links to other blogs also offering book giveaways. http://www.vivianmabuni.com)
Vivian Mabuni and her husband Darrin work with Epic Movement, the Asian American ministry of Cru. Vivian is a mom of three kids and a cancer survivor. She is part of a group of women writers called the Redbud Writers Guild, and her first book, “Warrior in Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community and the God Who Comforts” was published this past April.