Friday, November 06, 2015

On Being Vulnerable

I've been watching TED videos of Brene Brown on vulnerability. Like her, the thought of opening up some of the secrets of my heart to another person is scary. I love the part of her second TED talk when she shares how she told her friend she had a vulnerability hangover from telling 500 people she had a breakdown. Little did she know that original TED video would be viewed over 20 million times.

The very definition of vulnerability causes us to pause before we risk.

Vulnerable: susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.  

It's human nature for us to be protective of ourselves. The world is a dangerous place. People talk about you so sharing your personal information with others - which can be held against you - makes you hesitate. You dare not overshare on social media lest you are mocked and someone comments "TMI" (too much information)  on your post. Even your employer might decide they don't need you anymore if you openly share too much.

You see, all sorts of terrible things can happen when we allow ourselves to be open and vulnerable.  However, when we protect ourselves too much, we can miss out on all the wonderful things that can happen when we open up and become vulnerable.

One of the teachings of Jesus that always speaks to me is in Matthew 18. When the disciples asked about who is the greatest in the kingdom, Jesus calls a little child over and says,

"I assure you that if you don't turn your lives around and become like this little child, you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven. Those who humble themselves like this little child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." 

That's right, vulnerable like a little child. One who needs protection, one who is genuine,  has a sense of awe, one who is trusting and who loves easily, sharing their heart.

He demonstrated it for us many times and one that particularly stands out to me is when he was in the Garden of Gethsemene. He asked his disciples to stay awake with him. Listen to the words in the CEB translation:

"Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He said to the disciples, “Stay here while I go and pray over there.”  When he took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, he began to feel sad and anxious. Then he said to them, “I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying. Stay here and keep alert with me.”

You can hear the vulnerability in his words. He opened himself up and let himself be vulnerable. Not to everyone, but to those who were closest to him. Our relationship to God depends on our openness and vulnerability. We come to him and lay it all bare before him and he takes that offering of ourselves and makes us his children.

When we open up our hearts to each other, the same thing happens. Our relationships become special and deep and rich.  “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change” according to Brene Brown. And for those of us who follow Jesus and want to live like him and for him, we need to break down the barriers we erect in order to do just that.

Much grace...Kathie

Major Kathie Chiu
Pastor - Richmond, BC


Peter Black said...

Kathie, this is an insightful, personal and helpful post. And that's an interesting point you make about Jesus making Himself vulnerable, particularly in Gethsemane. So true. It's astounding that God, the eternal Word, by becoming "flesh" in Jesus of Nazareth chose to make Himself vulnerable from conception and birth to the cross. Thank you. ~~+~~

Lux G. said...

Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change - I love this so much. Sometimes it's scary to be vulnerable but it really is helpful to be. Thanks for sharing! I'll be looking for those TED talks.

Kathie Chiu said...

Thanks, Peter! It's true, all the way to the cross. What a difficult path for us to follow in.


Glynis said...

Love that photo of you and all the wee rascals!

Thank you for a thoughtful post, Kathie. Oh how we need to remove the masks and be more vulnerable with each other - not really talking on social media, but intimately, like Jesus. . .

Kathie Chiu said...

Thanks, Lux! Glynis, thanks, those wee rascals are my life. 😊

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