Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vulnerability is a good thing

So I injured my back this weekend and all of my lower back muscles have seized up.  I can barely move, so I'm laying here, flat on my back, trying not to move.  Besides preventing all activity (except reading and writing, I guess), this problem gives me the opportunity to think.

What I'm thinking about this morning is the importance of vulnerability in building relationships with other people.  One of the biggest problems that I see with the way I was taught to share faith in my childhood was that I was sharing from a position of power.  Maybe a better way to say this is that I was sharing with the belief that I had something to offer the world.  I was untouchable - all my problems had been solved, my life was perfect, and in order for people to have the same experience, they just had to believe the same way that I did.  I'm sure this wasn't the intention of the people who taught me, but it seems like the approaches I was taught lend themselves to that sort of attitude.  It's like you're expected to share from a platform or a soapbox.

But that's not really the real world.  Real people have problems.  The minute I portray that my life is perfect, I take myself and my faith out of the realm of the possible.  Not allowing myself to be vulnerable or need something from other people automatically limits the depth to which I can reach their hearts.

So something I've learned is to allow my needs and vulnerabilities to be an opportunity to invite people deeper into my life.  This isn't natural for me, given my life experience.  I am much more comfortable being self-sufficient.  But self-sufficiency is actually unattainable.  Having needs to be met by other people is part of the human condition and it's a really powerful way to build community with people.  And it's in that kind of community that I think conversations about faith are most impacting.

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