I sent an email to lots of friends the day before my driving test, to ask them to pray. And I posted it on facebook. Public statement made.
A friend replied and said it was brave of me to let people know before the test. She said that some people might wait until they had passed to tell people.
I realised it had been a decision on my part to be vulnerable – to share my life with my community, to ask for support, to let them in. And I realised I’d grown. In our culture vulnerability is seen as a bad thing but choosing vulnerability is something I’ve been on a journey with God about for a while. I used to (and sometimes still do) think I need to be the strong one, the together one. I need to be fine. But in this particular journey I’ve been realising that vulnerability is not what I thought it was. It’s not sharing something personal about yourself with someone, it’s allowing others to see you when you are weak, when you are confused, when you don’t have it all together, when you are not fine; to not always have to be strong. That’s something I’ve wanted to grow in and actively choose.
So when I didn’t pass my driving test the temptation was not to tell people, yes that’s pride welling up. But I had to because I had told people it was happening and people were asking how it went. So I told people, by email and facebook, public declaration, forced into squeemish humility of admitting failure. Trying to obscure it slightly with humour and breezy nonchalance.
And the responses came in thick and fast: reassurance, hugs, love, kindness, affirmation, hope, encouragement. In my place of weakness and disappointment I felt held. I felt known, accepted and loved.
Choosing vulnerability seems costly at the time but yet if I hadn’t chosen that, I wouldn’t have felt the richness of the love of my community in that place of weakness.
It’s a good lesson for me to know I don’t have to get everything right and to know I’m still accepted and loved.
Of course last week’s events were a very small thing to be vulnerable about. Many people fear vulnerability, fear being taken advantage of, fear being kicked when they are down. Sure maybe we need to be wise about who we are vulnerable with but without vulnerability, without admitting we are human and a work-in-progress and without choosing to ask for help, we can’t experience being known and loved for who we really are, held even in our place of weakness. It allows others to see that there is a place for them in our lives.
Maybe in some ways the level of community and connection we experience depends on the level of vulnerability we choose to show.
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Wow I’ve just found an incredible TED video about vulnerability, I’ll post it…