As I read a CNN article today, This hospital chaplain has counseled thousands of dying patients. Here’s what he’s learned by Faith Karimi, I was moved by the words of chaplain Joon Park. He said,
“Many of us near the end realize we were not able to fully be ourselves in life – we had to hide to survive,” he says. “It was not always our fault. Sometimes our resources, the systems and culture around us did not allow us to. My hope is always to fully see and hear this patient, who is now finally free. ”
I wonder how many of us continue to live this same way in hiding even as believers in Christ. I know that it is not always easy with the pressures of society to live in the freedom we have in Christ. We hide our imperfections just as Adam and Eve did at the fall and yet we wonder why we are unable to deeply engage. What if we gather the courage to be real, use our weakness to point to the strength of Christ? What if we created a culture that allows others to have this courage? What if we bore each others imperfections with patience and testify as to what Christian community can be? We have the promise in Col 3:3-4 that we are hidden in Christ and one day we will appear with him in glory. All our imperfections are hidden in Christ. Whether we are gifted or disabled, we are all imperfect anyway! Perhaps the shame from our imperfections was meant to direct our attention to be clothed in Christ.
One way that we build this culture is by being unafraid to be vulnerable ourselves. When others see our vulnerability, yet we are still standing, moving, living for Jesus, it gives them permission to do the same. It gives hope that it is possible to be authentic and still loved. I heard someone call this “the gift of going second” - if we go first, others feel safer to follow.
But the other aspect is being trustworthy enough to deserve to hear people’s real stories. As we grow in empathy, humility, kindness, and wisdom, I trust our community will grow in its capacity to care for one another when we are vulnerable.
I think the private Missional Partnership community is one space where I feel more comfortable being vulnerable since it is only available to other people who are seriously engaged with our mission. But I’m also trying to take risks to share more of my life and heart so people can see how God is at work, even in my weaknesses - maybe especially in my weaknesses.
I’m so grateful for you sharing this. It prompts all of us to ask how we want to show up here - and in the rest of our lives.
Thank you for sharing this. I too have seen that its not just about being vulnerable but knowing when, where, and how we do it will impact the faith of others. Sharing struggles that others may be able to connect with while maintaining trust in the Lord can convey the message that we dont need to be all put together to be considered faithful Christians. Its okay to be a work in progress, as we all indeed are. When vulnerability is not done right however, it has the potential to garner attention towards self rather than Christ and alienate others. When we share without giving enough of a context or without proper consideration of the hearers or the circumstance, it can be unhelpful.
Very true! No point sharing with vulnerability if the information shared will be used as a leverage to minimize our message. Sharing in smaller groups as you have suggested seems wise unless its an issue that a larger audience can relate with and needs it. Being vulnerable has helped me experience some deep friendships once a culture of safety is established. It can definitely be a gift that many long for.