on vulnerability…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am pondering the power of vulnerability, the power of the words I am sorry, and the freedom found in the choice not to defend a stance but to be open enough to another or others, in a way that can make ongoing dialogue and relationship possible. This it seems to me is a huge challenge for us in our world today, and also in our personal and working lives. So many lines are being drawn to define who is in and who is out, who is right and who is wrong, who is acceptable and who is not.

I don’t like being wrong, but I often am, and when I am and someone calls attention to it my first reaction is often to supply excuses or worse blame others, and to defend myself against what feels like an attack. In many ways it is a natural response, it masks the vulnerability I feel with a barrier and my then defended self begins to construct a higher and more substantial barrier. I become brittle and that brittleness is actually weak and easily shattered, revealing the quivering mess within. Shame has a big part to play in this. Anyone familiar with Berne Browns work on Shame and vulnerability will know where I am going.

So I am beginning, to explore another way, a way of being that says to the one bringing the critique or criticism, let’s talk, I may have been wrong or unclear here, or it seems like we are looking at this picture from different standpoints… in short anything that will allow an openness and a dialogue that might prove to be helpful.

As I ponder the pattern of Christ, who emptied himself of all power and status, clinging to nothing, and simply being content to rest in the purposes and love of God, I see the pattern for another way. The strength that it takes to turn the other cheek, or to walk an extra mile, whilst both being subversive actions, are actions of strength through vulnerability. In my experience in most situations of misunderstanding there is often no right and wrong, but a miscommunication and the viewing of a particular issue from a differing view point, this can be even more problematic when one or the other party holds different facts, or interprets facts differently.

How then do I begin to live in an undefended way, well first I have to own the fact that I could well be wrong, and have the grace to say so, and yet have the courage to also not only listen to the story from the others point of view, but also to tell mine. To hold an open attitude that not only gives but receives forgiveness is essential, this is risky living, but I believe that it is essential if we are to learn and grow together and to make difficult relationships or situations places of possibility.

There are of course exceptions to this, and I am not expecting that this would be a way forward for cases of abuse or severe bullying, or cases where actual harm might be possible. There are always exceptions, but that does not mean for most of us most of the time that the risk is not worth taking.

Perhaps to risk vulnerability is to place ourselves in the flow of divine love, where many possibilities find their roots… perhaps to be vulnerable is to let love be real. I will finish with the words of a hymn of that title:

Let love be real, in giving and receiving, without the need to manage and to own;
a haven free from posing and pretending, where every weakness may be safely known.

Give me your hand, along the desert pathway,
give me your love wherever we may go:
as God loves us, so let us love each other,
with no demands, just open hands and space to grow.

Let love be real, not grasping or confining, that strange embrace that holds yet sets us free;
that helps us face the risk of truly living, and makes us brave to be what we might be.

Give me your strength when all my words are weakness,
give me your love in spite of all you know:
as God loves us, so let us love each other,
with no demands, just open hands and space to grow.

Let love be real, with no manipulation, no secret wish to harness or control;
let us accept each other’s incompleteness, and share the joy of learning to be whole.

Give me your hope through dreams and disappointments,
give me your trust when all my failings show:
as God loves us, so let us love each other,
with no demands, just open hands and space to grow.

Michael Forster
©Kevin Mayhew Ltd.


About Sally C

How do I describe myself, I am not what I do, (I am a Methodist Minister), I am not who I am related to (I have 5 wonderful children, 2 lovely granddaughters and 2 lovely grandsons). I am a seeker truth, a partaker of life in all it's fullness and a follower, sometimes stumbling, sometimes celebrating of the Christian pathway. I seek wholeness, joy and a connectedness to all things through a deep reconciliation with the God whose love blows my socks off! I love walking, swimming and photography, I dabble with paint and poetry...
This entry was posted in shame, speaking out, Uncategorized, Vulnerability. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to on vulnerability…

  1. Lorna says:

    In our society today we are less willing to admit our failings, or say sorry … it’s a brave thing to do to admit we got it wrong, and pulls down all kinds of barriers when we do so …


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s