Wednesday, March 30, 2016

On Vulnerability, This World And Is It Really Worth It? {Part 1}

I started writing this blog about six years ago. It's been a journey which has brought many things. At times there's been terror, other times exhilaration. Often, much in-between. As is true of both good writing and good journeys, I have learned so much through the process. This learning far exceeds any other goals I might have.

As I've continued to write, no matter how frequently, I have realized more clearly what I am about here. 

Each time I hit 'publish', I want you to find three things: Vulnerability, Authenticity, and Redemption. 

So I am taking the next few posts to talk about each of these and how they work together in our lives. I believe that we are all meant for these things and all of the beautiful richness they bring to our lives. I hope you will join me for the journey.

I peer out through hazel eyes on a whisper of warmth. We circle a tiny cherry-colored table at Starbucks. There are five of us. 

And we have come upon that moment. You know the one.

The book we are studying is asking us questions. We need to discuss them. I feel some of my new friends dread these questions. 

But, somehow, I don’t. 

There’s a part of me tingling excited. This is a chance to share the places beyond our Sunday morning ‘hello’s’ and ‘how are you’s’. We are here without kids so can we PLEASE go there.

So I do. I share in an at-once animated yet melancholy manner. I tell them how easy it is for me to lash out at my husband. My kind, patient, no-one-deserves-this-less husband.

And then I look into their eyes. I don’t see judgment. But, I cannot quite see empathy. As we round out the discussion, I still balance precariously on that proverbial limb.

Have you ever been there, friend? Or have you seen someone on that limb and dearly wished you could be out there with them?

Vulnerability is hard. If it isn’t, then we’re not doing it right. 

Vulnerability is costly. If we don’t recognize that then we’ll never really pay the price. 

Yet, vulnerability is rewarding as few things are. If we see this, we won’t ever choose another way.

I just watched the Nanny Diaries. When I think of a ‘facade of vulnerability’ I think of the mothers gathering. They are rarely mothers yet share and empathize with others over how ‘hard’ their motherhood is. There is talk of what the husbands have done and what the children have done and of course, what the nannies have done. 

But they accept no responsibility for the less-than-perfect in their lives.

This is beautifully contrasted in the ‘come to Jesus’ or at least ‘come to Nanny’ moment at the end of the film. Mrs. X is exposed when the wrong clip of the ‘Nanny cam’ is played. She is confronted with every failure and weakness. Her defenses come down and she becomes truly vulnerable and open to the truth that will change her life.

And so it is with us. As we come face to face with these dark places, the broken things, the stubborn no-good stuff, we become truly vulnerable.

These times of vulnerability often happen before God. It is good and right for it to be so. 

However, vulnerability is a circle that encompasses our relationship with God and our relationships with others.

If we are baring our brokenness before the Lord, this is vulnerability. But it is also safe in both a good and a bad way. We ought to feel secure in the love and forgiveness of our Abba Father. But, if we wear this confession to God like a safety vest, keeping it close to rescue ourselves, we won’t experience the fullness of vulnerability.

For when we open ourselves up in the honest admission of our mess, even our darkest moments, we know both the cost and the treasure.

The cost is the risk that we will be judged. And the sad truth is, sometimes we are. 

The cost is the shattering of that perfect image; our good reputation. Once it is destroyed before others, we don’t know if we will ever get it back. And somehow, we have grown quite fond of it.

But the treasure, oh the treasure! We experience the fullness of God’s smile upon us. His embrace of us. We are trusting what Jesus has done. We are believing the truth of who we are because He is real and lived and died for us. This allows us to withstand the test of vulnerability. 

And vulnerability does test us. Sharing our weaknesses, the less-than-perfect, leaves us exposed to the harsh response of others. There can be great fear. But, as with all fears, when we really face them, we find great freedom. We find the love and perfection of our Savior. And too, we find real, abiding friendships filled with the love of God.

It begins around a cherry-colored table at Starbuck’s. It begins in grasping the moments to answer how you really are. It begins with quaking insides and fumbling words. It begins not knowing if anyone but Jesus will be out there with you on that limb.

Yet, still, it begins.


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