Like most people, I have a naked story.
Vulnerability makes us feel naked. Unprotected. Weird. We don’t like it and we rarely hold it up as something to be admired but I can’t shake this feeling that we might all be missing something.
Are the people I admire most the least vulnerable? Maybe that’s not the best way to put it – let’s try this: Are the people I most want to be like the least vulnerable? Absolutely not! My favourite people are the ones who can take a beating for doing the right thing and keep on comin. The respect I feel for someone like that is almost torn out of me.
Don’t we want to be like that though? I can’t help but think of the cost and criticism they face every time they have the courage to innovate or create something that changes something in the world for the better. (Brene Brown deserves credit for so much of this material btw. Buy and read her books!) To be a critic costs nothing and there is such a fine line between that and critical thinking that most people take the easy road. It’s always easier to tear down than it is to build something, but tearing is much more addictive. Mix in a little repressed jealousy of the person who is actually accomplishing something and it simply becomes easier to want them to fall than to risk anything yourself.
In the face of unjust criticism do you take risk and walk towards the uncertainty? The people I admire the most do but man, they must feel naked sometimes.
Pasadena California. Age 8. A night I’ll never forget…
Some friends of mom and dad’s were coming over for dinner and they had two girls – one of whom was my age. My brother Ryan and I were changing clothes in our room which looked into the front yard and was mere feet away from the entry when we heard their car pull up.
In the ten seconds between our visitors pulling up and our visitors standing in our front entry, my brother had managed to A. Get fully dressed and B. Work me into a state of rage (probably by calling me “Fatty!” just in case you were on his side of this story). Before I could remove the life from his body for him he had darted out the door with me right on his heels. The major difference between us at that point in time was that I was A. Two years older than him and B. Completely naked.
I nearly ran into our guests. I still remember them standing there with this shocked look on their faces – it would be fairly difficult to forget – I applied the brakes and put it in reverse, slamming the door behind me. Had I known any swear words I would have been using them right then standing with my back to the door and my chest heaving. Also my brain was asking pertinent questions such as “What the heck were you thinking?”
Vulnerability is like standing with your back to the door. The trouble is, you’re going to have to go back out there for dinner aren’t you? “Hi guys! I (obviously) had forgotten you were coming over! Pass the chicken please?”
It feels like being naked. It is uncomfortable and makes us squirm. It is frail and yet requires something that I’m not sure society recognizes or values properly. It requires courage. An enormous amount of courage.
Vulnerability is simply the most accurate measurement of courage that we have (Brene Brown) but I suspect most of us see it as weakness?
I’m no expert on women but I do live with five of them. All I can say is: Image. Completely unrealistic expectations such as being skinnier, more beautiful, confident (but not too much), quiet and younger.
This is the part I do understand. Men: Do not be perceived as weak. Ever. She can, your kids can, your neighbour can, but the buck stops somewhere. Never ask for help. Never admit you don’t have an answer. They can be weak but it can’t be you.
I don’t know how you feel about Jesus but you would probably admit he’s one of the most admired people who has ever lived. If you had to boil it down to one thing what would it be? (Just play pretend if you think this is all a bunch of weak idiots making a crutch to walk with.)
You can’t talk about Jesus without picturing a cross in your mind. That cross has come to symbolize hope for millions and hope for me personally. What a mess though – a sick, disgusting, naked mess. Lifted up to stand between heaven and earth until it was finished. The most shameful torture and death known to man and it happened in front of all of his critics. “Get down off of there if you really are what you say you are!” He refused. He looked guilty but said nothing.
In front of his disciples, his guys. The look on their faces said it all “We thought he would deliver us from the Romans? All those miracles but he’s going to die in the mud like a nobody! Why did I leave my profession to follow him?”
We forget that Jesus also died in front of heaven. The Commander of the armies of angels! What would they be thinking?
One word would free him forever and exact retribution on his enemies. One word “Come!” but he wouldn’t say it. Such unbelievable power in that restraint…
The most vulnerable moment anyone has ever had before that time or since. The Father turned his back on the Son for the first time in eternity as the weight of the sin and shame of the world fell on him. Such a shockwave is still rippling thousands of years later.
Jesus was truly seen and owned his own story and we can do the same because there’s one thing I know now:
Vulnerability is never weakness.
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” Brene Brown