For most of my life I have tried my hardest to be in control. It’s a feeling that most of us have; the need to be in control. Without control we feel exposed and vulnerable.
I hate to imagine how many night’s sleep I have lost because I have been facing a situation that I wasn’t in control of. I was reminded of this the other week as I lay in my bed looking into the darkness and turned over and over a situation that was going to face me the next day. This wasn’t even a very important situation, but it had got under my skin.
Over recent years I’ve tried to change this as I’ve become increasingly aware of two things. The first is an obvious one – I’m never going to be in control of everything. The second is not so obvious, but is more profound – control pushes people away and puts me into a cage of isolation.
If I’m going to be someone who lives a life that is connected with other people, truly connected, I need to drop the control, be open and as a result be vulnerable.
In a study of what makes people wholehearted Brene Brown made this observation: "In order for connection to happen we need to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen". Brene has some really profound insight into what it means to be vulnerable and open and wholehearted, a video of here presentation at TED is at the end of this post.
She also makes the observation when talking about how we numb our vulnerability "We make everything that is uncertain certain. Religion has gone from a belief in faith and mystery to certainty – you’re wrong I’m right." I’ve definitely been guilty of that in the past, and probably will be again, but I’m trying not to. I’m trying to be someone who embraces the vulnerability of the journey of faith that I’m on.
Jesus never asked us to have all of the answers, he did ask us to journey together. I’m trying to embrace the unknown alongside the known. I’m trying to let my relationship with Jesus grow in the weakness.
Part of this journey of vulnerability has been to create a few places where I can be open and exposed in safety – places of vulnerability. One of these places takes place on a Thursday morning as myself and two other men get together for breakfast and to chat. Most of the time we talk about things that others might regard as trivial, but they are things that are close to each one of us. They are things that we feel the need to share, in vulnerability, with the others. We don’t even have the answers most of the time, that’s not the point either. Our aim is to allow ourselves "to be seen, really seen".
I’m sure that part of Jesus statement "Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in" Mark 10:15 is that children have a wonderful ability to make themselves vulnerable without condition.
We cannot live a life completely in control, it would be madness to try, but we can try to live a life of hiding. Jesus us asks us to come out of the hiding and to make ourselves visible, exposed and vulnerable.