Brene Brown discusses how embracing vulnerability strengthens our capacity to better love ourselves and others in our lives. Follow this guide to reflect on how increasing our capacity to love empowers both us and others to create holistic and vibrant community.
Willingness to be vulnerable opens us to experiencing our greatest and most unique self. It helps us discover what we have to contribute to the world that no one else posseses.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
- Luke 1:41-45
*“Why is it so hard for us to believe that God’s love really is unconditional and that we should imitate God’s love not only for others but also for ourselves? Perhaps we have regarded self-centered behavior too harshly. We are unwilling or unable to give ourselves the same gentle grace that God offers us and that we believe should be offered to others. Leap from doubt to belief and remember that God loves you, delights in you, and yearns for your response.”
~ Rueben P. Job, A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world...And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."
-Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love
Mary is blessed because she chooses to step into an incredibly vulnerable space and say "yes" to God calling to her. Elizabeth recognizes this in Mary, and is the first person in the book of Luke to name for us that Mary is the mother of who we will come to know as Jesus Christ. Elizabeth then asks of Mary, "And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?" And why shouldn't it happen to her? Elizabeth is a child of God, and therefore specially gifted and graced in her own ways if she says yes to discovering and embracing them in God. As are we all.
In opening to God and accepting God's greatest gift to us--who we are specially created to be, and are to become in this world--we become a blessing to others. And in blessing others with our gifts, and by demonstrating what a life lived in joyful vulnerability can look like, we compel them to become a blessing for themselves and others. God loves each of us, and has created each of us perfectly unique. May we receive these blessings with Mary's vulnerability, and Elizabeth's joy.
*PRAY THIS PRAYER
Thank you, God, for your delight in me. Let me move from doubt to belief, trusting in your extravagant grace. Let me be your love, grace, and delight for others today. I can trust your extravagant love. I am worthy of your extravagant love.
*Adapted from 'The Uncluttered Heart' | Making Room for God During Advent and Christmas by Beth Richardson
Copyright © 2009 by Upper Room Books® | All rights reserved.
Vulnerability can be scary. But in venturing there, where we discover our deepest God-given power and gifts.
Brene Brown's 3 Takeaways | Exploring Vulnerability to Discover Your God-Given Power
"Love with our whole hearts, even if there's no guarantee."
This is in fact what it means to love, but love is like a muscle that we have to strengthen and build over time, and so we begin with a weight that we can manage. We can begin with a person or a space in our life that we want to give our love into just a little bit better, and in a concrete way. Do we want to spend 15 minutes more a day with our child? Spend 15 minutes more a day on ourselves? Or commit to volunteering one additional hour a week? All of these things will require developing discipline to cultivate that time in our schedule and be present. There will be times we don't succeed as we would like, and times it won't go the way we prefer. But the point is to love. If we love, we accomplish exactly what we set out to do.
"Practice gratitude and joy in moments of terror...to feel this vulnerable means I'm alive."
We often view moments that scare us or don't go as planned as failures. But there are beauties to failure that we rarely consider. The first beauty of failure is that it is inevitable, so we didn't mess us up--this is part of the learning and growing process. We all struggled to float and stroke when we first learned to swim. We had to keep trying, and in trying we learned fortitude, and eventually to swim!
The second beauty is that failure actually helps orient us towards what we are attempting to accomplish. We can look at failures and ask of them, "What about this is off, and what am I trying to do or need to do instead?" And who and what may you need to make that happen? Celebrate your newfound knowledge and growth that will more powerfully help you build forward, and then get moving! Being vulnerable, relentless effort, and risking failure are important parts to journey and self-discovery to the unique gifts that God has given us to share with our community and world.
"Believe that we're enough...when we believe that we're enough, we stop screaming and start listening. We’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and to ourselves.”
A big part of vulnerability is willingness to believe that we each have full and infinite worth--that God created us with inherent value, purpose, and gifts that no one else possesses quite in the way we do. Vulnerability means discovering what makes us unique--even if at times that it draws us away from what feels familiar and safe. There is no discovery in what is already known, and God's idea of what makes us "unique" is not going to be found in our "normal."
This also means being open to what makes others unique. We are all the same, but we are also each and all different. There is beauty in the both/and of this truth, and God created us this way with purpose. We need to be ourselves, and yet we need to be with others. We need to share commonalities, but we also need to celebrate what each person contributes that helps make our community a whole. When we embrace our uniqueness and that of others, we set a rare but powerful example for others to do the same.
If we are vulnerable and open to God in our being and your doing, to where will it lead us?