I’m vulnerable every time I place my opinion in the public forum. However, being vulnerable is foundational to being a disciple of Christ. And I’m here to say that I hate it. Like a whiny teenager wanting to distance themselves from a parent while simultaneously wanting to borrow money to hang with friends at the theatre, I dislike vulnerability.
It occurs to me that some of my most profound moments have been while I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable. I had a job that turned sour and was bullied to quit by my supervisor for no other reason than they had changed their minds about the direction of my ministry without consulting me. I thankfully took legal counsel and stood up to them, but the bullying and hate continued. They continued to actively look for faults with me which I found extremely stressful while trying to continue with my duties. I was very frustrated, extremely hurt, and angry as well. It was in this time, while praying a rosary during a particularly bad moment, that I envisioned Jesus on the cross, looking at me and offering his blood-stained and nailed hand saying, ‘Will you not join me here?’
The message was clear: where suffering and vulnerability exist, we are sure to find Jesus and be with him there. Just this past year I took part in 33 Days to Morning Glory (a Marian consecration to Jesus) and I came across this quote from Mother Theresa:
We may hate it. We may dislike it in any amount, but it is certain that being close to Jesus means living in a state of vulnerability. If it hadn’t been for my job situation, I never would have been open to this encounter with Jesus. It’s as Stephen Colbert said in an interview, reflecting on the loss of his Father and brother and the faith he gained from it, “I love the thing that I wish most had not happened.”
I can think of other instances in which this has happened in my life, often with my children. With them, I try my very best to always be right, to establish myself as The One Who Is Authority. When I do this, I miss my opportunities to teach them how love is the true Authority. Love, the response that seems weakest, is what is needed to bring about true change, not authority.
As much as this message rings true in my experiences, it rings true through the writings and lives of the saints. Those who experienced intense closeness with God also experienced their lives in a vulnerable way. Jesus asks us to take up our cross and follow him. We can never be as close to him as we are when we pick that cross up and carry it, with the weight, smell, blood, and tears it takes to bear a cross. And we are close to him because in that action, he is with us. He takes that cross and bears it with us. We miss that great opportunity to find ourselves in the embrace of our loving saviour when we don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable. That is the place we can encounter him as we truly should – as children, searching for the parent, searching for that trust, searching for that help. Knowing how weak we are and how we can so easily mess up and knowing that he is all-loving and his response to us is that message of love and mercy. It’s an invitation into the life of our God, the most holy Trinity. Vulnerability is the call of Jesus’ disciples. I may hate it, but I know that my Jesus is there.
How have you experienced Christ in your vulnerability?
Copyright 2016 Jane Korvemaker