The unheard melody of honesty dies like the last breath between now and eternity. I open my mouth, but the words will not dance, they will not perform their pretty pirouettes. They are ill-behaved, ill-timed, irreverent. Because nobody likes to admit their need.
I am sitting in a neutral coffee zone and meeting with a woman who directs a Hungarian ministry to prostituted girls. ‘We ask all of our volunteers to go through vulnerability counseling. You open up and share your weaknesses – in front of everyone. You go through the course with the girls who have left the life of trafficking. Almost every one has an addiction that they must beat.’
She pauses as if to gauge my reaction. She has done this before – met for coffee with a pseudo-interested do-gooder and watched them exit at this very point.
Admit my vulnerability? Talk about my addictions? Lay my shadow in the peering, probing, bright sunshine of observation? No thank you. I just came to offer my time. Volunteer. Do my part for the social fabric, you know? I’m here to rescue and rehabilitate girls who have been abused, sold, beaten, raped – administer the medicine of healing.
Because, that is what the Church does. We are the hospital where the lives get patched and the wounds are soothed. We give. They receive. That’s the system. The hierarchy is happy.
But sometimes, the world beyond our walls is relatively untouched, unimpressed, or un-impacted by what we have to offer. It is a head-scratching puzzle.
Why don’t they fill our pews on Sunday morning?
Why don’t they drink our small-group coffee in our cozy homes?
Why do public officials, and school administrators, and teachers seem ultra-wary when we offer our help?
There is a sweet group of faithful women in my community who meet every Thursday to pray over the items that needy folk post on the Facebook page. Normally, I don’t share prayer concerns, mostly because I have my act together – at least, that is what I tell myself. The truth is, I do not want to air my proverbial dirty laundry. Nobody does.
But, my stress levels were so high on Wednesday, I threw my prayer request into cyber-service before my sweet friend, Katy Beth, had even opened up the prayer chain.
I worded it nicely, acceptably, like Christians should do. But what I really could have said, if I were being vulnerably honest:
Help! Today kicked my but and if something doesn’t change, tomorrow will do the same. I am hanging onto a ledge by a little finger. I’m cracking up here.
Have you been there too? Ever feel like,
My ‘to do’ list is out of control.
My house is a trash heap.
My refrigerator is empty and the bank account is flirting with zero.
My kids are sick with 6 different maladies.
My dog ripped open the trash and it is all over the yard.
I forgot an important meeting and let someone down.
No matter what decision I make, it will be wrong.
I am the worst mom, the worst wife, the worst friend, the worst preacher, the worst student, the worst husband, the worst son, the worst missionary, the worst Christian that ever walked the planet.
And, I have a nasty headache.
And the company arrives in 36 minutes.
Or, to be even more vulnerable …any one of us could be honest and say:
I do not like to lose control so I uber-organize every day and obsess about details.
I struggle with jealousy and it manifests itself in materialism.
I am afraid of growing old and irrelevant.
I am afraid of getting cancer, ebola, or a thousand other diseases that might change my comfortable existence.
And the list just keeps going because all of us struggle with baggage. But, we in the church rarely talk about the true vulnerability that builds a stage in our hearts and directs the production that the world sees.
All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts…
said our dear Mr. Shakespeare.
So, I am sitting here, backstage, wondering if the most powerful, world-changing, soul-purifying, healing, response to a world on the brink of war, and societies that are cracking up, and neighborhoods that are imploding, and marriages that are gasping, and teenagers that are using, and sexing, and pimping, is for the Church to be like this,
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross
A vulnerable Jesus, who wept, and bled, and felt pain for us, so that we might see God.
We know how to entertain, and tell stories, and dialogue, and welcome, and host, and play, and forgive, and preach, but do we remember how to lament?
To suffer with.
To raise our puny fists of fury to the doors of heaven and pummel it with ‘why?’
To flood the feet that brought us Good News with the tears of ‘when?’
To own our own vulnerability with one honest expression of, ‘This is how I prostitute my soul to the world, so that I can wear the mask that gets me through today’s performance.’
My best guess?
If We, the Church, the Body, were able to admit our vulnerability in a world that knows the dirty side of the night, they would join us on our journey to a Savior.