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Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Vulnerability

by Cathy Baker

{ Day 8 } 

There’s a woman in our current Bible Study that no one in the group had met prior to our gatherings. 

She’s beautiful, possessing a gentle smile. Yet the tender spots from past wounds surface when she speaks.

Last week, as she thoughtfully shared her hurt from a past church experience, I was moved by her transparency before people she had never met prior to this study. Her vulnerability not only gave us an opportunity to love on her but to also pray for her throughout the week. And, because she was willing to be vulnerable, others were too. 

Yes, vulnerability can backfire. I have wounds to prove it. Don’t we all? But choosing to remain fully guarded is costly when relating with others and especially with God. Mary poured out fragrance on our Savior’s feet and David danced naked through the streets. However, no greater example of vulnerability exists more than Jesus Himself. 

Tim Keller wrote a sermon on the gifts of Christmas given to us through Christ. One of
those gifts is the ability to be vulnerable in relationships. He says,
“In the gift of Christmas, the unassailable, omnipotent God became a
baby, giving us the ultimate example of letting our defenses down.” 

Staying in Step with the Spirit: When we choose to be vulnerable with people we trust, we become transparent and when we’re transparent, we’re not seen. God is. 

Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of vulnerability fleshed out through your Son. Because He chose to become vulnerable we now have the ability to do the same with others, and most importantly, with You. How can we fathom such love?

Does vulnerability come easy for you or is it a struggle? Either way, you’re not alone.

“Love anything and your heart will be wrung and
possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must
give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with
hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in
the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe,
dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it
will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be
vulnerable.” -C.S. Lewis

The Melody of Transparency

The swishing of the windshield wipers was the only sound heard in the car that Sunday morning on our way to church.

My feelings had been hurt and I wanted to choose my words carefully. Hence the silence. 

I wondered how I’d be able to conjure up a smile when greeted at the door. After all, isn’t that what we’re supposed to do for church? 

This wasn’t the case for one of my favorite teenagers the Sunday before. She wasn’t happy and had no qualms in letting it be known to those closest to her. She came to church “just as she was”, if you will. I admit thinking something like Can’t she just crack a smile when someone asks her how she’s doing? She can take it up with her parents when they get home. 

As the rhythm of the wipers swished its melodic tune, I began questioning which approach, if either, was the best way to handle it was God-glorifying: Full-on transparency or a fake-o mask. 

I think we all know the answer but perhaps it’s not so cut and dry. Is there room for balance here?

When I think of a biblical example of transparency, I think of Paul. He believed and clung to the grace of God and because of his openness to Him, Paul was able to be open with others, inviting his brothers and sisters in Christ to see him “just as he was” — weaknesses, strengths, and struggles.

And yet, where our tongue/speech is concerned, wisdom must rule. 

“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” James 3:5

Have you ever noticed how often hurt feelings and sibling issues crop up on Sunday mornings? I don’t believe it’s by coincidence. We know the enemy’s ploys. He’s told us in John 10: Steal, kill, and destroy. Joy is stolen, relationships are sacrificed, and the desire to worship is destroyed. Albeit it temporary, one moment robbed of a worshipful attitude is one moment too long.

So what did I do that Sunday morning? As the above thoughts came to mind, I asked the Lord to restore my joy — to keep my eyes on Him — and to help us resolve the issue at the proper time, which He did. Confident of His desires for me, I could genuinely smile as Rick opened the door that morning.

I can’t say with complete confidence that I handled it correctly but I share this snippet of my journey to encourage you just in case you find your feelings hurt on the way to church one Sunday morning and the only sound you hear is the melody of windshield wipers playing in the background.

Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long
for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence
you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives
aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking
as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives.
Live openly and expansively!
2 Corinthians 6:11-13, Paraphrased by Eugene Peterson. 

 

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