Christian Counseling: The Value of Vulnerability

Brene Brown, DSW eloquently spoke about The power of Vulnerability (20 minute video), which can be seen at TED.com. I found it to be an excellent presentation and the content challenging.


Many initially think of being vulnerable as a sign of weakness, which leaves one open to physical and/or emotional harm, and that's how it is defined. It comes from a Latin word meaning to "wound." Our natural instinct is toward self-protection and, to many, being personally wounded has no value and, therefore, should be avoided at all costs. But there is more to consider— a good, necessary and required vulnerability.


How vulnerable are most Christians living out in the world or with each other? Not very vulnerable at all. Most are too polite, fearful, ill-informed and self-protective. Without much thought they end up valuing things like: never offend anyone, avoid conflict at all costs, don’t disagree with others (especially those in leadership), don’t inform others about your personal boundaries, don't associate with people who don't believe what you believe (Christian or not), don’t discuss controversial issues, etc. Where is honest communication? If you want to know why there is so little community in the Christian world, it is because instead of embracing vulnerability they build a life of invulnerability--a life where safety and security are self-made and disconnected from spiritual reason and faith in God; a life that is lived defensively, detached, isolated and rigid, where one cannot personally grow or become more Christlike. (Most growth comes from relational interactions.)


Vulnerability is good, necessary and even spiritually required. A young child is vulnerable—trusting, open and accepting—and it is one of the qualities we love in children, actually in people. Scripture tells us to become like children in our relationship to God and with one another. That doesn't mean we don't think about consequences or rightly defend ourselves or discern who are and are not trustworthy people. We are to be wise and use common sense in regards to being vulnerable. God does not ask something of us that He isn’t willing to do Himself and being vulnerable is one such thing.


God, the Father and Jesus live a life of vulnerability. He reveals Himself to the world. He gives free will to his created angels and to humans, leaving Him vulnerable to ridicule, rejection and manipulation (one third of God's angels left heaven). Jesus being born into the world is an extreme example of becoming vulnerable, as was His accepting His humiliation and brutal death. When we communicate we are revealing who we are, what we believe and what we value. In so doing, we are being vulnerable, thereby risking being attacked. But without revealing we cannot be known. Without being known we cannot determine who is trustworthy. Without trust we cannot have deep and meaningful relationships. Also, think how awesomely vulnerable a person must become to see oneself as he or she is, to die to self, confess sins and ask for forgiveness and salvation.


We all want to feel and know we are secure in this world, but to what degree can we and at what expense? Did not Jesus say we are to be as sheep among wolves? Are we not to be His voice in the world, which leaves us vulnerable to criticism and even being martyred? He not only asks us, but expects us to be vulnerable, just as He did in His earthly life. This is part of the cross we all carry. Along with that expectation He promises to never leave or forsake us and His presence helps us to be courageous and face hardship.


Being vulnerable, accompanied by wise or reasonable self-protection and faith in God’s help and deliverance, is a far better way to live than a life of inevitable loneliness that comes from invulnerability. Our safety and security are not found much in this life, but are in fixing our hope completely on Jesus to bring us safely to eternal life where security is everlasting.



2 comments (Add your own)

1. jenny allio wrote:
Thank you for this. I just watched the same video and then Google's a Christ centered response to vulnerability. Well said!

05/07/2013 @ 8:39 PM

2. Frank Mancuso, Ph.D. wrote:
Thank you Jenny for your comment. As you, I hope others will benefit from Dr. Brown's excellent video. Be real!

05/08/2013 @ 11:46 AM

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