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