Vulnerability has been a theme in my life for the past several months. Why? Because I made the decision that for Lent I was going to practice being more vulnerable in various areas my life. The topic of vulnerability had been one that kept showing up in my life in the months prior to Lent, and so I decided that Lent might be a good time for better understanding how vulnerability can play a part in my faith life. I will admit that this decision was a little frightening. Choosing to be more vulnerable is somewhat of a daunting task, but through this process, I have come to see many fruits I had not expected. Several of my relationships took on a deeper level as I learned to better trust others with myself. I also found myself becoming aware of what’s going on inside of myself in a whole new way, and this has spilled over into my prayer life, allowing me to be even more vulnerable in prayer.
What is vulnerability? Brené Brown describes it as “the cradle of the emotions and experiences we crave. It is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, accountability and authenticity.” It creates space for us to shed our false selves and become the person God calls us to be. It leads us to become a resurrected people. While in my mind I saw it as a “Lent-thing” associated with suffering, I’ve now come to appreciate it at as an “Easter-thing” because it invites me to go through the suffering and experience the resurrection.
I found myself during the Triduum reflecting on the vulnerability present in those events of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. It started with the Last Supper and Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples. It’s a gross act (their feet would’ve been pretty disgusting) that requires vulnerability on all sides of the parties involved. Then he moves to the garden where he holds nothing back. He’s crying, he’s in distress, he’s scared, he’s asking God to take this suffering from him. Then we find him on the cross, abandoned by most of his friends, exposed to everyone who sees him. It’s not really a great advertisement for encouraging people to embrace vulnerability, but what happens afterward is. He is resurrected and, as a result, those in his life are changed. They gain a new understanding of themselves and their mission as followers of Christ.
Vulnerability isn’t weakness. It’s courage. It is in this space that we can best live out our life of faith. We break down walls and discover our true selves rather than the person the world tells us we should be. Where before, we kept our distance from others out of fear that they might judge us, when we’re vulnerable we’re brought closer to others. When we practice vulnerability, we have more compassion for ourselves and as a result we have more compassion for others.
It what areas of your life is God inviting you to be more vulnerable?
Robby Francis is a Campus Minister in Griesedieck Complex.