Open Vulnerability

2 comments Written on November 21st, 2016     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Rev. Jan Bros is the planting pastor of Abbey Way Covenant Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She serves on the Executive Board of the Northwest Conference and the Commission on Biblical Gender Equality. She is the proud grandma of seven grandchildren.

These past few months our congregation has been studying the psalms as a shaping source for our life in God. One of the things we have learned together as we have looked at various psalms is that we can bring anything–any concern, any emotion–in our vulnerability to God. This idea preaches well but is not always easy to put it into practice.

I have been challenged by the application of the psalmist’s example both in my personal life as well in response to national events of late. I have been forced to grapple with what it really means to bring my entire self to God when things are not going the way I thought and my emotions feel anything but “nice.” Am I willing to bring all me before God?

Sometimes when life seems uncomfortable or uncontrollable it is easier for me to talk to my spouse or friend then talk to God.

Equally problematic is my own forgetfulness to be thankful when life is good. I can count myself with the nine lepers in the New Testament who when healed didn’t express their gratefulness to Jesus.

But God wants us to come to Him–happy or sad.

But do I?

Do I readily go to God as my “first tell” to say what is on my heart? Do I just get on with life when I have no complaints or big needs not stopping to notice until I hit a bump in the road or take a wrong path? Or do I believe God will hear me when I cry out and my heart hurts and my doubts loom large? Or do I think I need to pretty my words up before I can speak? When life is easy or when it is hard, turning to God is an essential action of a vibrant spiritual life not just a theological premise or principle.

I want to want this kind of bold prayer life prayed by the psalmist. I want to want this sort of vulnerability with the Lord of the universe.

I think the same dynamics can be true in my pastoral leadership. As a female pastor, I sometimes want to appear stronger than I truly am. When given the opportunity, I don’t always speak up and bring myself forward because it feels too risky. I can fear others will take advantage of or find fault with me if I speak with passion or conviction about what I am grappling with in my own heart especially when it involves uncertainty or doubt. I can equally forsake to notice and name when life is good, missing to bring the powerful gift of affirmation and gratitude to those around me, instead choosing to be seen as efficient and productive.

Good peers are of great help to me here. They encourage me to bring my true self into view as scary as that can sometimes be. They can also help me stop and notice those around me.

As in prayer, I am always learning.

The psalms can teach us much about vulnerability before God. In turn, they teach us about being open with each other. May we be emboldened to pray and live in open vulnerability.


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2 comments “Open Vulnerability”

I love this challenge to vulnerability, Jan. Vulnerability is so hard for me…especially as I am always living in the tension of things, feeling uncertain and always learning. But I so value other’s vulnerability (including your’s with this article) and I think our vulnerability is so strong when we trust and go for it. Thanks for your strength and for sharing your true self. 

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Jan – Thanks so much for sharing your formation through reading and meditating on the Psalms. They have been a great help to me in these post-election days. My cries to the Lord for God’s justice to reign in these days, bringing peace to all who now live in fear are grounded in the psalmist’s words. Truly God desires for all of us to come and I am thankful for your reminder once again that the act of our coming changes our perspective because no one truly encounters God and remains the same. 

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