Advent reminds that God meets us in the vulnerable places. God became man, the Almighty a tiny baby, in a stable, not a centrally heated hospital.
TED speaker, Brene Brown has made a brilliant study of vulnerability, or more accurately the ‘intolerance of vulnerability,’ her life’s work. Unsurprisingly no one likes feeling vulnerable. We fight against it with every fibre of our being. After all, society tells is that to be vulnerable is to be weak …. right?
As vulnerable individuals we wrestle with feelings of fear, anxiety, shame and more. Being vulnerable is an utterly negative label in our twenty-first century culture. Just as we don’t want our electronic lives vulnerable to viruses that might threaten our identity, so we don’t want our physical, emotional, spiritual lives to be vulnerable to other unpermitted access.
We like to be in charge, in control. No one gets close. No one comes near. No one is let in.
Brene Brown has found in her research that an intolerance for vulnerability yields a devastating harvest. For vulnerability is the incubator of almost all the good things of life. To not be vulnerable is to be incapable of joy, of love, of giving unconditionally, of creativity. The paradox of life is this: a perfect immune system is a disaster. You and I can’t grow with a perfect immune system. You need to be vulnerable and to be open to viruses to grow and mature.
When intolerance for vulnerability reigns supreme, you succumb to a solo, self-alone approach to life that prevents the divine presence from hallowing and haloing your life. The Christian faith offers no DIY (do-it-yourself) kit to spiritual peace and power. In fact, the Christian faith is based on God’s initiative, not our industry and calls for community.
When intolerance for vulnerability reigns the likely result is extremism. Brown has a compact and devastating equation that explains so much of the fear in this world. Brown states with conviction that whatever it is you have faith in, when you subtract the human factor of vulnerability, you subtract the possibility of failure, but also the joy, anxiety and creativity of fear and of love.
The good news is that just as God looked for Adam and Eve in their naked vulnerability in the garden, so God comes looking for you and I each moment of this Advent season. When God saw Adam and Eve hiding in the bushes, He didn’t turn away in disgust and abandon them. God didn’t throw them away and start over. When Adam and Eve were at their most naked and vulnerable, that is exactly the moment when God comes looking for them, seeking them out, bringing the divine into their midst. When we mess up, God doesn’t throw us away & start again, He comes wooing us with the question:- “Where are you?”
Advent season is an invitation to embrace vulnerability. For it is our nakedness, openness, and vulnerability that truly prepares the way of the Lord. Only when we are open can we be fully alive. Only when we risk having our hearts broken can we truly love. God became man as a vulnerable baby, dependent on others.
May we respond to the divine woo of our Heavenly Father this Advent time… ‘Here I am, send me’. Send me to the lonely, the hurting, the marginalised, the imprisoned, the powerless and scared.
May your willingness to be vulnerable be a blessing to others, may it prepare a way for your healing and restoration in many lives. Amen