A Winsome Humility

One of the crucial ingredients of a close relationship, it seems to me, is a certain vulnerability. You can't get close to someone if you're never weak or needy or broken in some way. If you present yourself as perpetually strong, you've got the upper hand; you have power, you call the shots. But that's not a prescription for intimacy or true connection.

We spend so much time shining our armor, putting our best foot forward, all in hopes that we'll be found acceptable, attractive, and desirable to others--and yet we wonder why we can't seem to get close to one another. Could it be because we've not allowed another to get close to us? If you're both safely ensconced in lustrous armor, it makes for an awkward embrace, doesn't it? We can hug each other without actually touching.

Intimacy--true, healthy intimacy, at least--is forged in humility and vulnerability. When we strip off our armor and allow ourselves to be seen for who we are, we create a climate that promotes real relationship. We provide permission for others to be weak and vulnerable, too. Many of us worry that if others knew our true struggles, they'd want nothing to do with us. But is this really true? When we're authentic about who we are, warts and all, it invites others in. It fosters freedom to be who we really are--and that's the soil for healthy relationship.

Our church is going through a process of stripping. It's a painful, awkward time. And yet, I'm actually encouraged: if this leads to humility and vulnerability, if it creates an environment where we can be more open about our struggles and challenges with one another, I think this could result in genuine community. In this honesty of connection, there will be room for others, too--those not yet a part of our fellowship. They'll see we're not perfect and they'll feel the freedom to join us. Conceivably, this could make us more attractive to those outside our walls, those who, like us, have very real struggles they long to share. What do you think?


Ann said...

I hope you don't mind me joining in from far away...

I think this is an excellent point. BUT, I think that church is often the last place people feel comfortable taking off their "armor." Perhaps this is a legacy of an earlier day in the church (one in which judgment and condemnation was more the norm -- if not directly from the pulpit, than from the parishioners). Perhaps it is a reflection of the context in which First Pres finds itself... Boulder as a city has a "glittering image" and the affluent can afford pretty nice armor.

Good thoughts.

Bratislava, Slovakia

Carl Hofmann said...

Good to hear from you--and all the way from Slovakia! You've definitely got your finger on the pulse of Boulder--and implicit in your remarks is a challenge to the church to be countercultural: not to offer shinier armor (that happens to be religious), but a whole new reality of life lived in the light of Christ's cross and resurrection--real life, life that deals with our struggles and shame and offers healing and hope. Obviously, we've got a long way to go...but as they say, "the journey of the 1000 miles begins with the first step"! Thanks for checking in.

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