Saturday, September 8, 2012


"Faith is the vulnerability that flows between the shores of certainty." - Brené Brown (from TED Talks, "The Price of Invulnerability")

I posted a video to this particular TED talks a couple of days ago.  I wrote that I cried as I watched it.  Yesterday, I listened to it again with some close friends, and cried again.  In fact, I am near tears now and may be a sobbling mess before this post is finished.  And that's okay.  

Vulnerability.  When I listened to Brené Brown speak with eloquence, honesty and gentleness about the high price of not allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, I didn't feel as if I was being pointed in a new direction. I felt like a light was being shone on the path that I have been walking for the past four or five years, maybe even longer.  The message for me wasn't, "This is where you need to go."  It was, "This is where you have been going, and must continue to go."   

I wept when I heard this message, for a few different reasons.  One reason was that I was relieved to hear that I am not crazy.  Up until several years ago, I have spent my life numbing, repressing and denying my emotions.  I had gotten so good at it, in fact, that I was unable to feel my emotions fully, even when I wanted to.  And as Brené says in her talk, it is not possible to numb emotions selectively.  We do lose control.  Joy disappears, along with the pain.  And the pain doesn't really disappear. It lurks, hides, festers.  

I found freedom from my unhealthy compulsion for invulnerability when I realized that I was robbing myself, my friends and family and my God, keeping the fullness of myself from them.  I began to pray that God would release me.  I had to admit that I had lost control, and I had to be willing to welcome the return of  my emotions, in whatever form they came, whether they were positive or negative.   God was faithful, and I began to feel my emotions.  And yes, there has been a lot of pain ever since.  it has occurred to me that my timing for this request was a bit...okay, a  I've written about my journey over the past few years, so I don't need to go into detail.  It's enough to say that my new-found vulnerability opened the door to some extreme pain and brokenness.  But I wouldn't give it up for anything.  Because somewhere in the brokeness, there is life.  Strength.  Hope.  I am alive.  I may be weeping, I may be in pain, but I also laugh more freely than ever, even as I weep at the drop of a hat.  I am grateful.  

The anniversary of my mum's death is approaching.  I think often of where we were this time last year, in regards to her illness.  What was happening, how much we knew about what was coming.  My birthday is approaching, and Thanksgiving, events that we celebrated with Mum in the hospital.  Ten days after my birthday, Mum died.  My heart feels soft and broken and sad.  I am vulnerable.  This semester so far, we have had two history classes, and I have cried during both of them. I have friends who are mourning the loss of their mum, and my heart breaks for them.  I feel their pain, and that's okay, too.  I wrote in a post just a few weeks after Mum died, about the Paths of Sorrow - "We keep walking, because we must, because as far away as it seems, there is a place on this path where the pain melts into compassion, where emptiness invites unity, where tears becomes less for our pain and more for the pain of others."
Vulnerability is scary, but that is why it requires so much strength.  And God is the mighty Strength-Giver.  God gives us the courage to look out on the world, to look into the eyes of a loved one, and to acknowledge that yes, there is potential for great pain here.  But there is also potential for great joy, and love and beauty.  And somehow, in the great mysteriousness that is God, when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and the great pain comes, when it is placed in the hands of God, that pain actually nurtures and enriches the potential for joy and love and beauty.
I don't understand it, but I believe it.  For now, that has to be enough.
Peace out.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like you can't get rest,read AMOS 8 and 9.
Peace be with you.

Kelly said...

Thank you! I have read Amos 8 and 9 and am encouraged by the sense of God's protective, powerful nature, and His loving, healing restoration. Everything that God brings into our lives is redemptive, designed to restore, renew and connect us to Him in deeper, more intimate ways. He is so amazing!

May His peace be yours, as well.

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem is the church, not being obedient.The punishment is directed at Israel in Amos 9

Kelly said...

I agree. That is why it is so amazing that God's discipline is redemptive and not destructive. Whether He is disciplining, or guiding, or simply working out His plan in an individual's life, His purpose is always to save, restore, nurture or grow them, to draw them into deeper relationship with Him. It is this very assurance that gives us the freedom to be vulnerable in His Presence, and as we move through our world.

In my life, when I go through difficult times, as I feel and understand His constant Presence, His daily provision for me and my family, His attention to me and to the details of my life, His guiding hand, I am drawn closer to Him, in love. I have seen Him graciously answer prayers for me, seemingly just for the purpose of assuring me that He is listening. How sweet is that?!

If hatred, anger and condemnation were effective in bringing people back into relationship with God, Jesus would have used them. Instead, His banner over the lost was and is love. And as far as the church goes, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

I, for one, rest free from punishment under the blood of Christ, who took my punishment on Himself at Calvary. I welcome His hand of discipline, as a child who knows that her Father does what He must to keep her safe and in His arms.

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