Vulnerability 101 - My First Blog
I've had writer's block for over two weeks. I have been trying to figure out why writing this first blog has been so hard. Why am I struggling to find the words when I know I am as talkative and verbose as they come. I know what the next several posts are going to be -- most of them are already written. I also have plans for what I believe to be fun things to do with the blog. Yet I've struggled with where and how to start...
So here I am at my favorite coffee shop, Craftwork off Magnolia, and it hits me. It's the same thing I have been coming to know about myself the past several months. Control. Only this time it manifested itself in my desire to have the perfect first post. To grip my audience. To tug at their heartstrings. To be life-giving. Oh the irony; the quest to be life-giving became life-draining. What started as a means of sharing my heart and being authentic morphed into a veil self-gratification. A means for people to affirm me and bolster my ego. So, of course, this had to be perfect! I need to maintain, or possibly salvage, my image.
When I first attempted blogging I had the same mentality; only then I did not know it and I was much more immature. Furthermore, the desire to plaster myself in self-righteousness was much more blatant. It focused more on outward appearance and other people (i.e. commands, directives, and unsolicited "wisdom"). In many ways it was passive-aggressive. Here is the best part: it is still out there. Find it if you wish; I never deleted it because I forgot to. Timing, though, is comical sometimes. Soon after I declared that I was going to go for round two, I discovered my old blog. I do not want this to be that, so I am choosing to leave it there as a reminder for myself:
DO NOT LET THIS BE SOME PLOY FOR SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS
If this seems tangential, it is. Sorry friends, hopefully you will get used to me. That last paragraph may not seem much like control, yet it has everything to do with control. I get to dictate how people view me and if my audience is simply living behind some LED screens then I can paint a picture of some thoughtful guy who has encountered some strife but has a grip on life. This good put-together guy. Maybe it is a picture of a guy that has some wisdom. Or maybe that picture will be of a guy that deserves pity because his life is obviously a wreck and "woe is me". I can choose the tone, the words, the subjects, and manage your response to a fairly large degree. That is great power and of great concern. To be honest, when I think about it, it creeps me out. My speech and words affect people and I should be mindful of how I present things; thankfully I have been kept in check through prayer, community, and my past.
Now that my deep-seated issue of control has had light cast on it, I have started to observe how that issue manifests itself. As I mentioned earlier, this time it manifested itself in my quest for perfection. I know that many of my first readers are friends and family that know me in real life. Since they have spent time with me, I have been so concerned about choosing my words carefully and writing the perfect opening blog. Having the light cast on this manifestation brought me back to some truths I have come to know. It brought me back to several journals I had written during 2018; I'll focus on three and share excerpts from each journal.
November 14, 2018
The first, ironically enough, was in response to a blog titled "Perfection Is Not The Goal" (see references at the bottom). Technically the blog is geared towards women, but the truth remains the same for all. It was a blog that centered around Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel. However, this story starts in 1 Samuel 20 with Jonathan and David. Jonathan made a covenant with David that
If I (Jonathan) am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord, that I may not die; and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth... Then Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace,because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord saying, 'The Lord shall be between me and you forever'" (1 Samuel 20:14-15, 42)
Jonathan ended up having a son, Mephibosheth, and his son was lame (2 Samuel 4:4). However, David still provided him a seat at the table and treated him like family and royalty (2 Samuel 9). The blog hones in on the permanent invitation and David fulfilling his promise. It shows his integrity. Just as God invites us, despite our brokenness to his table. Yet, Mephibosheth, like us, when he met David said "Behold, I am your servant" as if he could earn his way into the king's table by fixing whatever transgression there was. David said "Do not fear!... I will restore you and you shall eat at my table always" (2 Samuel 9:7). Again, Mephibosheth retorted, in what I think was his unbelief, "What is your servant that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I" (2 Samuel 9:9).
Oh what grace! Grace! Grace! Is this not the Gospel? The awareness of our sin, our imperfection? Then the invitation to be in community, the invitation to be forgiven, the invitation to be valued. It all too often is unbelievable and leads us to, as the author wrote, "tinker with our souls" when we should simply eat at the table. This drives an assurance that allows us to not seek perfection in the working out of our faith, but exercise with confidence the costly grace Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes in the The Cost of Discipleship. The desire to be a servant, while understanding we cannot achieve perfection on this side of heaven.
Tinkering with my soul is absolutely synonymous with control; yet, in regards to this manifestation of control I do not believe I was trying to tinker with my soul... Just your perceptions.
October 29, 2018
The second is a journal I had written during my meditation on Mark 9:33-37. The disciples were traveling to Capernaum and when they arrived Jesus asked them what they had discussed on their journey, but they did not answer for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest (Mark 9:33-34). This trip is on the heels of Jesus' transfiguration and the disciples casting out demons/healing people. I can only imagine the conversation... Hey guys did you see how I had healed that person the other day? Yea! But did you see I casted out demons that day?? Then it would into a conversation about what is better: healing, casting out demons, etc. Maybe it was as simple as Well Jesus took me with him and not you. I can only speculate what brought this up, yet I want it to be evident that it is not hard to get trapped in this comparison game.
All too often I come against the disciples and think, "What?? How could they? How prideful and self-righteous of these fools!" Yet, I do this daily. I know this about myself and penned the following paragraph.
The thing about walking with Christ is that behavior that is in opposition to Christ becomes convicting. You do not feel good about it. So, when Jesus asked them what they were discussing, verse 34 says they remained silent. It was stinking awkward! Why? Because they knew that Jesus was about humility. They had observed it, and they had probably been taught it at some point.
Just like me, not being able to write was stinking awkward and convicting. It is beautifully poetic that during the course of my impure motivation change I was, in effect, convicted and silenced me.
October 20, 2018
My last excerpt is from a journal during my meditation on Mark 9:14-29; the story that precedes the disciples argument. A man brought his demon-possessed son to the disciples, yet they could not cast the demon out. So the father of the boy pleaded with Jesus and begged him to heal his son.
But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. And Jesus said to him, "'If you can'! All things are possible for one who believes." Immediately the father of the child cred out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24)
The father is desperate, and Jesus calls out the father's lack of faith. With humility, the father acknowledges that and pleads with Jesus to help his unbelief. In other words "I want to have faith, but I am weak. Give me the ability to believe" I am so drawn to the father's helplessness as I come to grips with control and its manifestations. The father knew he did not have any control and yet he still had a problem relinquishing it. Yet, he more or less asked Jesus to help from a position of weakness and helplessness. He begged. He cried out. This gives me rest simply because it is okay to be weak! It is okay to be imperfect! It is okay to plead for help, my Father receives that! When the layer of pride is removed and humility is allowed to breathe the peace of not having control can abound.
Relinquishing control makes you vulnerable and requires trust and my Father has never caused me to distrust Him.
So here I am. Right on cue with this sinusoidal journey called sanctification. Fighting for control, losing my mind, relinquishing control, and finding rest. There it is friends. My life in a nutshell. Friends, I so badly want to be authentic and provide a real look. Simply because I feel we frequently get caught up in these facades of "okayness". Social media has become the vehicle in which we seek to fulfill our desire to be wanted and to very that people are listening. It is heartbreaking that this is where we so often find our rest when there is a loving Father that will walk with you and provide rest (Matthew 11:29).
With that in mind here is the immediate outlook. There will be entries of success, of failure, of strife, of praise, and everything in between. I had to come back to why I wanted to do this in the first place. Simply to share what I have been thinking and put my life out there for a wider public to see the ups and downs. To rebuke the idea that we cannot be vulnerable. I once had a person tell me I am far too open about my life, my past, my hang ups, my struggles. I vehemently come against that notion. Know my vulnerabilities. Know my past. Know my struggles. Know just how crooked and imperfect I am. Weaponize that if you wish, I guarantee it will hurt me. I cannot deny that. Yet, what you cannot take from me is the fact that being vulnerable has been the most freeing thing in my life. It has unchained me from the slavery of control, anxiety, fear, approval of man, lust, pride, anger, narcissism, bitterness, idolatry, jealousy, and distrust. Do I still struggle with those? YES. DAILY. It is why I shared all of that stuff about struggling with control and how I had to combat it this time. Vulnerability may allow people to hurt me, but it also allows people to help me. The amazing side-effect of me being vulnerable is that it becomes the catalyst for others to be vulnerable. It spreads.
While I will do my best to keep my motives and life pure, I know I will fail. Sin is inevitable and I will screw up; however, there is rest in that friends. Rest that my savior covers my iniquities and that I can never measure up to be perfect on this side of heaven. I want you to see it. I want you to hear my heart. I want you to observe it in the journals, the ramblings, the struggles, the successes, the tangential thoughts of a crooked stick in the hands of a perfect Savior. He is the author and He is writing a story with a crooked pen dipped in an inkwell of divine blood.
Here I am. Let's go.
A Crooked Stick
Dear Girl, Perfection Is Not The Goal: https://deargirl.blog/2018/11/14/dear-girl-perfection-is-not-the-goal/
The Cost of Discipleship - Dietrich Bonhoeffer