Parishioners are always giving me material for my preaching. They will see a movie or read a magazine article and immediately pass the link/novel/TV listing/DVD into my hands with great enthusiasm and the urgently voiced statement: “this would make a great homily!” Rarely does the aforementioned content inspire me and frankly only occasionally do I find the time to read or watch the material in question. Imagine my surprise when I actually viewed a compelling parishioner recommended TED talk on my computer given by researcher Brene Brown. She has been involved for many years researching vulnerability, courage, authenticity and shame and how those various states of mind affect our lives.
Brown found after years of compiling data that being connected to one another is our ultimate purpose in life and that shame prevents that connectivity from happening. She defines our need to be a people living “wholeheartedly,” which means cultivating the courage necessary to be vulnerable. She states that vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, love and everything else of real value in life.
What a terrifying idea. Imagine after years of cultivating independence, wealth, credentials, vocabulary and the façade of self-esteem—imagine finding that the truly essential quality required for fulfillment, is to make oneself vulnerable. And yet, that concept lines up with the Jesus story. Jesus is the always the vulnerable one: he is the one to reach out, to sacrifice, to empower, to trust and to believe that even in fear and bewilderment we are connected to this wondrous God. How continually strange to observe that the thing we most fear is the very thing that saves us.….to be vulnerable is to be alive~ Brene Brown …for when I am weak, it is then that I am strong~ 2 Corinthians 12:10