I have very quickly come to realize that this year of #twelve4life will challenge me in numerous ways. Last month I started, and continue, to wrestle with the idea of being vulnerable both with myself and those around me. This month we started to discuss the second step, relying on something greater than yourself. Through a lot of thinking, prayer, and listening this month, there are a few truths that have resonated with me.
To me, relying on something greater than myself means that I am completely trusting in the Lord. This is a concept that is frequently discussed among Christians. I now realize that this is an easy concept in theory, but incredibly difficult to live out on a daily basis. We are far more comfortable to remain in “control” of our lives. “Here God, you can have this part of my life…” or “Let Your will be done… in this way.” The difficulty of truly relying on God became evident to me when I started to look at it as a second step to vulnerability. If I have to be vulnerable and recognize that I am not in control first then rely on God means I am not holding anything back.
“The greatest things that I need to change, I cannot manage.” This a statement Pastor Shawn made during his sermon this week. This helped me realize that relying on God is more than something that I want to do. If I want to grow, it is something that I need to do. There is no way that I can face all of my struggles on my own. I have blind spots and battles that are too big for one person. Embracing vulnerability allows me to admit that there is an obstacle in front of me that I cannot conquer. I rely on my great and powerful God because He is the only one that can help me to the other side.
Even though I can recognize the need to rely on God, It is terrifying to actually do. In the last blog post, Falicia talked about taking that “leap of faith.” She challenged that risk is a part of faith. I started to imagine leaping into something and not landing in the cushy place I hoped for. It was a scary thought and it made me nervous to make any practical steps to completely relying on God. Later in the week, I heard a statement in a spoken word piece. “Whatever was suppose to kill you, didn’t, and what does not kill you knows who you belong to.” I belong to God and my God will not leave me nor forsake me. If I take that leap, if I let God mold me into His creation, if I hold nothing back, I will be a disciple of Christ who is forever safe in my Father’s arms.
Another Blog? Honestly, I don’t know how I get myself into these situations.
“Welcome back!” if you have read our blog before and “Welcome!” if you’re new to the whole thing.
This month our church is moving onto step 2: Relying on Something Greater than Yourself.
That “something” for us, is God.
Throughout the month of January as I struggled through the concept of “vulnerability”, I came to realize that I simply couldn’t let down my walls without help. Even when I want to, I always seem to find another wall beneath the one I’ve just taken down. I started to wonder, am I just incapable? Is this endeavor that I’ve chosen to embark on, an impossible feat to accomplish? I felt like the life embodiment of one of those Russian dolls. Then one day, I was sitting in a pew listening to Shawn preach and he said something that was so profound to me, that I think about it almost every day. He said something to the effect of, “Do you trust God enough to believe that you’ll be okay no matter the results or the outcome of the risk?”
Even writing it makes me a little emotional. When God asks me to jump, I realized that my usual response is, “Sure! I’ll jump if you catch me!” My “yes” to the Lord has always been conditional. It’s that belief that I will do as He says but only if I can come out unscathed. What a hilarious thought process when confronted with the fact that every single one of Christ’s twelve disciples suffered. This path is not for the faint of heart. It isn’t for those who desire to be nothing but comfortable. This path is impossible to walk without growth. I would even go as bold to say if you are not growing in your faith, you are dying. There is no such thing as “arriving” in the Christian faith. We never have all the right answers. Most of the time we don’t even know the right questions to ask. So how then do we navigate life?
The answer is simple, but the action is not. We must rely entirely on God. That means if He says jump, we don’t ask what’s at the bottom. If we don’t jump, we just stand on the edge of that cliff forever wondering what would have happened if we had just trusted and took the leap? Risk is a part of this faith. Growth is inevitable if you just say “yes”.
“A Leap of Faith” isn’t just a cliche. It’s a command. It’s a lifestyle.
What do you need to say “yes” to today? Will you jump or will you wonder?
We live in a world of you can do it. We are told this all of the time; in magazines, on the TV, Face Book, and the radio. Heck! I say this all of time, I preach on it more than not, and I fully believe it to a certain extent! Yes, I believe we can do more than we realize, I believe we can grow, and I believe we can be better than we were yesterday. However, I do not believe that I can do anything without being fully restored to my full potential, and it’s here that I stop believing in the “I can” and start struggling with the“God can”. I struggle with the fact that I can’t do something that directly helps me better myself, because I can’t restore myself. I have a real struggle with relying on anything that can help me, because I struggle with control. This comes from my “not enough” mentality, which pushes to be “more than enough”. This creates a very unnatural, and unhealthy dance with myself! As I continue to research and grow as I engage in the AA 12 steps, I’m realizing everything centers around step one: “I admit that I am powerless over my brokenness and my life has become unmanageable”. It makes complete sense to me that If I struggle with Step one, how could I ever come to embrace step two: “To rely on a greater power source, which can restore me”. Last month the church explored Step one with the focus on being Vulnerable! As we begin February, I’m still asking myself: what are the roads block to actually “Letting Go?” Brene Brown describes Vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. We are taught that doing those things will result in some form of assault upon us (Mental and/or physical). So, it makes sense why we wouldn’t be vulnerable, unless we are missing a bigger picture. If I truly admit that I’m powerless and I can’t manage my life, then I would have to seek out another power source that could help me manage, but that would also mean that I can’t be in control. Again, my research points to this as being the main cause of addiction! I happen to believe that we are all addicts of something. I need to truly come into the realization that if I want to be restored then I can’t be in control of that. Step one: take a risk, and step into understanding that my attempts to control my life have become one addictive measure after another. This has created a false sense of self and has fed my ego and fooled me into believing that “I can”. Stepping boldly into step one leaves me open to an unlimited power source that happens in step 2. It’s in Step two that “I can” becomes “God can”, and this takes the weight off of me to allow me an opportunity to grow and be better than I was yesterday. True change happens when we let go of the person we use to be, and boldly seek out the person we are supposed to be. Join us this month as we explore Step Two: “Come to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore”!!!
Pastor Shawn R. Moore
It could be said that vulnerability is attached to every waking second for humans. Through communication; socially and artistically, we place ourselves in a position to be judged by ourselves and others. This may be helpful if one can focus on progress made by documenting, remembering, interpreting, and communicating these interactions. This progress opens one’s heart and mind to form ideals to work toward, continued progress emotionally and spiritually, and the promise of fulfilled life of relationships and experiences that fill us with joy and peace.
What I have found, passed on through generations of broken men and women, is that trust in humans that have a close connection with their spirituality and faith is of great importance in our darkest vulnerability. That the way the trusted one’s have attained and maintained this connection will be transmitted to me takes patience, diligence, and a steadfast diet of tactfully rigorous honesty with self and others. Being vulnerable is absolutely grounded in a diet of practice.
Who wouldn’t want connection with the great spirit and the disciples that are working toward his/her likeness? Especially if the gifts provide energy, light, freedom, usefulness, adventure, love, security, and relationships grounded in truth and principle. I do believe our world needs it more than ever. Plea’s are urgent and emotional- this is one of them.
I would like to echo Falicia by saying that I am not a blogger. (If you have not read her post from last week, you should probably go do that right now.) I do not normally express myself in writing. But if we are working on vulnerability this month, what better way than stepping into something that is not comfortable for me? :)
I have been thinking about what I would write since the beginning of January. Racking my brain to think of something meaningful to share. It finally hit me this last Sunday. Pastor Shawn shared the first part of his sermon on vulnerability. I was inspired to embrace vulnerability and seek out opportunities to be vulnerable. As the congregation was leaving I heard someone say, “You know what I was thinking about? How to be vulnerable with yourself.” That statement hit me like a ton of bricks. Up until that point I had been thinking about vulnerability only in terms of what I share with others. I had thought, “I am fairly open with those that I love. There will be somethings for me to learn, but overall I feel like I am doing okay.” However, when I started to think about being vulnerable with myself… yeah… ummm… I have some work to do.
I realized an important fact about myself, which I think is true for many people, while I was reflecting on this. I tend to fall into the trap of finding my worth in what I accomplish and how “perfect” or “put together” I can appear. I am concerned with how others perceive me and how I perceive myself. I am consistently trying to prove to myself and others that I am capable of great things. When you are in that mindset it becomes difficult to recognize and accept struggles or shortcomings in yourself. Instead, you want to maintain that “Instagram filtered” life. Your mind creates a system or why of thinking that helps you avoid them. I will experience a struggle or I will recognize something in myself and I will push it to the side or I will rationalize it until it doesn’t seem “that bad” and I feel comfortable sharing it with others. Instead of being genuinely vulnerable, I take my struggles, smooth the edges, polish them up, share them and then feel safe because I didn’t step too far outside my comfort zone. I now realize that I cannot be truly vulnerable with others if I am not first vulnerable with myself. To me this means stepping into my pain and struggles.
When I think about how I am going to be vulnerable with myself, it make me nervous and I struggle to identify what that will look like. However, there are a few truths that are helping me find a starting point. First, I am BELOVED and worthy of benefit just because. I have been told this over and over again since joining this church. I realize now that I need to embrace that fact and learn to believe it to my very core. Second, I am a child of God. He made me and He knows me. He is mighty and there is no struggle that is too big for Him. Finally, from pain there is strength. I know that stepping into pain will result in me being stronger on the other side. Being truly vulnerable with myself gives me that chance to grow and improve. You learn a lot more from failure than success.
I don’t expect this to be easy and I know there will be many days that I will fall short. However, I have the desire to take the first step and at this point that is all I need.
~ Allison Burns
I’m not a blogger. Not really. I'm far too untamed I think, and I’m far too grammatically incorrect, but if you’d bare with me, I have some thoughts to share.
Originally when I set out to write this post I was going to begin with a cliche. You know, how all those high school papers start out? “The Webster dictionary definition of the word is...”, but I was surprised to find that the word was associated with so much negativity. “Susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm”. I stared at that for a long time and wrestled with what it meant.
It is from the Latin root vulnus meaning wound.
I sat back and stared at the words and I asked myself why anyone would ever want to be susceptible to attack or harm. There was a list of synonyms at the bottom and the word unguarded caught my eye. That word, for whatever reason, seemed to have a more honest ring to it.
I think often times we protect ourselves too much or perhaps, I should speak for myself. I protect myself and I do so extensively.
I build walls. I build thick, complex, hard-to-get-through walls and I allow very few people past them. I sometimes imagine myself as some sort of military base that has these checkpoints that people have to pass through. They may get through the initial wall; the one that’s intimidating. The one made of concrete, with security footage, and razor wire on top. The real test though, are the emotional walls. I see them a lot like one-way mirrors. I can see out of them, but others cannot see in. They merely see a reflection of whatever it is they want to see. They see their own version of me. Some people never make it past that checkpoint. It protects me. Usually.
I stay within the center of my base and I stay safe. Vulnerability is that word that asks me to step beyond the checkpoints and stand outside of my walls.
Is it vulnerable of me to stay I am terrified of the idea of stepping out from behind my self-made protection? It’s true. When we step outside we are most certainly susceptible to attack, but I think what the dictionary definition lacks is all of the other forces we might be susceptible to. Things like trust and growth.
I have stepped beyond the walls before. I have opened myself and been severely damaged. I have been destroyed so thoroughly, that I had to crawl back within my base because I did not feel I was worthy enough to walk. Susceptible to pain indeed.
Pain often invites growth, although I don’t believe pain is the force that makes me grow. I believe that change is and I am learning that change does not happen in an environment that I control. While I can honestly say that I am not enjoying the process of stepping beyond my walls, I know that it is necessary to foster growth through change. As my world changes around me I learn to trust and I learn to love better. Reality speaks most loudly through the vehicle of change.
So as this year turns from 18 to 19, I promise to keep taking one step after another. I promise to keep walking past my walls until I am on the outside. Until I am susceptible. Pain or success I want to learn from change and grow with it. I believe that the Lord created us to be on an ever continuing adventure with him. We do not grow in skill or heart without practice and opportunity. Neither of which are possible without embracing change and the act of embracing change requires vulnerability.
So I guess if we want to grow, we all better prepare to be susceptible. We must become unguarded.
I am very excited about a 12-month exploration of adaptation and transformation within the human experience! The Beloved church will be engaging in 12 powerful steps that bring about wholistic living! I strongly believe that we have the ability to change our lives for better if we apply ourselves. I also believe that each of us have been giving abilities and talents that we sometimes overlook. We get caught up in pursuing things that lead to success over being significant. Starting this month, we will discover how to engage in deep living and growth through 12 practical steps. These 12 steps will give us power and endurance to handle all the opportunities and obstacles that life gives us. If you are looking to make a difference in your work life, build stronger relationship, and engage boldly in a better you, then I’ll ask you to journey with us as we take the needed steps to live a great life, a life that brings growth, and a life you love. These 12 steps are simple, but not easy; nothing in life that creates change is easy, but through work and dedication you can be the person that you want to be, and begin to transform the world around you. Are you up for a better you in 2019? If so, I challenge you to join us as we as engage in Twelve for life.
Pastor Shawn R. Moore