Vulnerability: A Path to Human Connection and Healing
I had the absolute blessing of attending the BELONG tour in Charlotte this year with a dear friend of mine. She invited me a year ago and I said yes, which was a little outside of my normal planning pattern. But, I did pray about it and really felt as though this was a place I should be – in a year.
God, in His infinite wisdom, did have it planned. Not a week before the conference, I experienced confusion about whether or not to be vulnerable in a certain situation in my life. Being vulnerable is so hard. In fact, Webster defines it this way: capable of being physically or emotionally wounded; open to attack or damage. Exactly. Why would I want to do that – openly inviting attack. My humanness says NO WAY!
But I do not read this in Scripture. I do not see Jesus shying away from being open to attack. I see him saying and doing things that openly and unashamedly invite physical and/or emotional affliction. Jesus wore His heart on His sleeve. He held nothing back. He was bold for God. He loved sinners fiercely. His arms were wide open, as was His heart. Even to the cross.
I reflected on this vulnerability in light of our recent election…the results tabulated, the shock ensued and our nation looked up, jaws wide open, What.Just.Happened?
As I considered writing on my blog, I thought…”I can write about many things on my heart, I don’t have to “go there” about the election.” And I was honestly very convicted. After all, I was literally just reflecting about the importance of vulnerability and how very much Jesus modeled this character trait in His work on this earth. I also recalled how very much one can learn from (and teach others) through the posture of vulnerability.
I think we all feel vulnerable at this point. Both sides. Both parties. All Americans. All Americans can relate to this, I truly believe. Whether the candidate we penned in won or not, I believe we can all agree that we feel vulnerable. We feel open for attack. We feel capable of being physically or emotionally wounded.
You know that dear friend I mentioned above who invited me to the BELONG tour? Our relationship is so cemented and strong because of raw vulnerability. We have seen the hard life together. We have opened ourselves up to the beauty of the vulnerable and the connection that vulnerability allows. Walls down, pride stripped, flaws exposed. Wide. Open.
Just this week I sat with another friend as we both shared, sobbed and expressed the truth that neither one of us wanted to hear. Sometimes truth is hard. Truth is scary. Truth is hard to admit. We sat, as the waitress came by our table and gave us a glance of understanding, “Let me know whenever you need me, I get this.” We dried our tears, straightened our mascara, exhaled…and with our fancy napkins now colored a checkered and smudged black, we ordered our lunch. We were stripped of all past unsaids…and the vulnerability allowed us connection, far deeper than any of the other 10 years of friendship…
I also saw an ambulance arrive across my street, lights flashing, siren wailing…very shortly after purposeful knocks on our front door, asking for our help, our help in the scary – the scary seen in eyes. And when you don’t exactly know what is going on…you just say an emphatic and reassuring, yes! My friend, my neighbor, a key player of my inner circle was quickly whisked away to the hospital by this ambulance and I felt raw. I felt vulnerable as I robotically got into the car and drove to give my huge presentation, one that just didn’t seem to matter any longer.
I stepped into that auditorium and I remembered…the election. Would people pay attention during my talk – the one that I have labored over for literally months? Is there any way there is enough coffee to fuel the post-election disappointment/confusion/ cautious-and-optimistic-hope-but-afraid-to-admit-it-for-fear-of-judgment in a shift of power? And it all drifted. I was taken back to my BELONG friend, my lunch date, my ambulance sighting…I was taken back to my humanness. That humanness that is broken outside of any election or shift in power. That humanness that longs for healing, connection and acceptance.
That humanness, for me, has been welcomed by the deep love of our Heavenly Father. He wholeheartedly desires to lavishly fill us with surprisingly real and genuine love, much like the love the heart is filled with when a parent watches his/her baby take those monumental first steps. Our Heavenly Father is one who shouts LOVE from the mountain tops, acceptance of differences with truth-telling in love, an invitation to live life wide open and vulnerable. This is the Heavenly Father I know and love.
Ephesians 1:18-23 says this: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”
This God, this God I call upon in my most vulnerable states, has already declared victory over this world and any human who is placed in a position of earthly power. I am reminded by the NIV commentary, that this letter, Ephesians, was written to the entire church, not to individual parts of the whole church, speaking of the unity we have as a whole body, not as isolated individuals trying to do our own thing. Christ is the head and the collective, we, are the body. We need each other, bound in unity, to experience the fullness of Christ on this earth. We need each other, all races, all political parties, all genders – and I believe it starts with a certain vulnerability to connect in this way. It’s hard, but that’s also a truth-telling of the gospel – life on this earth is hard, humility is hard, vulnerability is hard, surrender is hard.
In my longing to be more like Jesus, the one who lived out the vulnerability in the hard like no other in history, I am hope-inspired in my deepest being. I believe that living a vulnerable life for God, arms wide with palms facing up is the way to true intimacy with the Father and an exquisite way to flood His love over others. And, love is what we all deeply desire and genuinely need right now.