The Fifth Day of Christmas: The Gift of Vulnerability
Daring Greatly means the courage to be vulnerable. It means to show up and be seen. - B. Brown
When a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away - Paul the Apostle
The writings and speaking of Brené Brown have been gifts to many these past few years. Her “Power of Vulnerability” TED talk has been viewed over 51 million times because it resonates with the deepest longings of our souls. We’re made to be known as we are, not as the falsely inflated selves we sometimes present ourselves to be, and we long for this kind of authenticity.
We live in an airbrush edited world, though, curated by instagram, twitter, and other forms of vanity fair. We present like mating birds, with the result that we’re hiding huge parts of our souls, even from ourselves! The anxiety that we’ll be discovered is also cause for anxiety, which results in an ever-increasing spiral of both posturing and hiding. Brené’s words and example point the way to something better: authenticity.
Meaning no disrespect whatsoever, that her work has been received as ‘groundbreaking’ is indicative of the degree to which the real gospel has been buried under layers of destructive religion, for one of the key purposes of Christ’s life is to offer us a path toward authenticity.
Maybe you’ve read this: “Whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away....” We all build identities around our accomplishments, vocations, families, and whatever degrees of fame and power we might achieve, or what we create, or how athletic we are. But all these are scaffolding, hiding our spirit/soul essence, an essence which is in all of us, as we’ll see in this series, contains elements of brokenness and beauty. The challenge is that any hiding of our brokenness also hides the real beauty of our souls, leaving us with nothing but the scaffolding of our curated accomplishments as identity.
The fifth gift of the gospel is that the running and hiding, as old as Genesis chapter three, is over. We are completely known by God, in our failure, nakedness, and loss. God also knows our gifts, our capacity for love, beauty, creativity and sacrifice - knows these gifts more than we ever will. God knows, too, that we’ll never achieve the beauty, creativity, and calling for which we’re created unless we have the courage to face the failure and loss. The good news really does begin with our declaration: “I’m not OK.”
We’ve been taught, in this world, that to admit failure and shortcoming is the shortest path to job loss, or at the least, loss of promotion. Or getting benched. Or downgraded. Or excluded. “Not enough” is each of our middle names, at least a few times. Still, though we know this feeling, we keep running, keep hiding, keep covering our shame, fulfilling our destiny as sons of Adam - the original hider.
It’s over. You can come out now and be who you really are. In naming your brokenness you’ll discover that real love wasn’t ever about performance, that radical acceptance is healing, and that only in your brokenness will you be given eyes to see your giftedness.
I could go on and on about this fifth gift, like the five gold rings in the 12 Days of Christmas song, there’s a weight to this one for a reason. Instead of rambling though, I’ll offer this warning: PLEASE AVOID the bastardization of Christianity that flourishes across much of America. It often presents in a faux humility, but you can tell it lacks authenticity because real brokenness is hidden. How can you see it?
It thrives wherever one sin, be it some sexual expression, or some political affiliation, is deemed to disqualify you from playing a part in God’s story.
It thrives wherever there are leaders who can never apologize or admit failure
It thrives where the debates are about doctrinal minutia (the Apostle Paul called it “wrangling over words”) thrives, creating an atmosphere rich in spiritual pride and lacking in real, humble joy.
When you find these things, my advice is to run. Far and fast. This stuff isn’t from God.
Our God calls us to receive God’s warm embrace exactly because we’re wounded and in need of comfort and healing, not because we’ve performed so well. And when we come clean with God, we’re given the courage to come clean with others, starting with the people we love, which brings me to day six...
Days one through five are available at spiritsoulbody.org , on our blog site. Days six through twelve are still coming, and you won’t miss a single one if you subscribe. Life is short! Receive the gifts, enjoy the gifts.