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Christian spirituality: Befriending our vulnerability

To some extent we are all vulnerable in some way or another. To be vulnerable is to be susceptible to being wounded or hurt. To be vulnerable is to admit that we are not perfect people, and each of us experiences throughout our lifetime moments of brokenness, grief, disability, sadness, loneliness and anxiety.

But should this state of being prevent us from reaching out for help, perhaps out of fear of being judged or pride? Our story doesn’t need to end with brokenness. Our vulnerability may be an occasion for redemption that leads to life.

Within Christian communities or similar trusted environments, we share our brokenness in order to display the surpassing power and sufficiency of Christ and the Gospel, which transforms us increasingly into the likeness of Christ.

Our vulnerability is not an end in itself. Rather, it should point us, individually and together with other believers, to the sufficiency of Christ. It looks at, and hopes in the redemption we have in Jesus Christ and the work of the cross.

Our vulnerability may be an occasion for redemption that leads to life

By befriending our vulnerability, our pain is transformed. It is transformed the moment we become intimate with it. For in becoming intimate with our repressed parts, we bring them to the surface and transform them into the wholeness of our true nature.

Aversion and resistance to admit our particular vulnerability only compounds pain. We come to understand that aversion makes us a hostage to pain, tied to the difficult events and experiences through an aversive and fearful narrative.

An authentic Christian community should be one of the places where people can actually be vulnerable. Gathering with fellow Christians should be one of the few times where we do not hide the realities of life. To be vulnerable may mean to be honest about sin, or brokenness, or weakness, or just the general mess of life.

Vulnerability encompasses guilt from the past, low-level anxiety, loneliness, sadness, or a general lack of joy or satisfaction. Some may be doubting God, or feeling overwhelmed or inadequate as a Christian.

There’s always a danger when Christians are expected to be open and honest, but are not. If someone opens up about an issue, and others respond with flippant attitudes, Christian clichés, total silence, shock and disgust, or perhaps even indifference, this discourages and even prevents openness. It communicates to the one who shared, as well as to the others in the group, that what was shared is unimportant.

Others will remember this experience and never share anything vulnerable about them­selves. When Christians fail to respond well to tender moments it stunts friendships and ministry, and it leads to nice, but superficial relationships.