Advent Journal: Vulnerability

In Honest Advent, Chapter 4, Scott Erickson writes of vulnerability.

At the moment, I am feeling the vulnerability of my body. I’m tired; my head hurts. I have an ear infection. I went to the doctor for said ear infection yesterday, resulting in an ear irrigation because the infection had created some sort of buildup against my ear drum. I couldn’t hear out of my left ear – not a good thing for a church musician about to embark on The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (seven straight days of music-making…)

So, I’m tired. I’d rather be in bed. I missed my morning reading time because I overslept my alarm, and now the day is done and I started to turn out the lights and hit the sack…but I remembered that I’m trying to write, daily, and that maybe it wouldn’t be too time consuming if I kept it short.

And, honestly, I wanted to read the next chapter. I really like this book, Honest Advent. .

Anyway, vulnerability strikes a chord, on multiple levels. I felt very vulnerable yesterday, as I cupped a plastic receptacle underneath my ear lobe and trusted the young LPN as she squirted a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water into my ear and up against my ear drum. It sounded and felt like the ocean; an underwater cacophony of altogether foreign sustained sound and pressure. I trusted the doctor; she trusted her nurse. And so I opened myself to the pain and pressure and let them do their work.

Life is sometimes like that, especially in the hard times. It depends on your perspective: If you view hard times as just something to endure til it’s over, so you can be happy again…well, you sort of miss the point. Nobody likes suffering and pain, but the truth is that they do their work – work that can’t be done any other way.

I have some form of this conversation every day, it seems. Today was no exception. It’s a hard thing, to sit in someone’s pain and truly suffer with them; to grieve with them and even hate that they are hurting – even with the knowledge that all they are experiencing in this moment will do a work in their soul that can’t happen any other way.

That’s the way life is, unfortunately. We all hurt; we all suffer. It grieves me that so many people – believers and non-believers alike – seem to think that following Jesus means you get a happy life. You don’t. You get the life that comes your way, which will be hard and involve pain and suffering. Following Jesus gives you purpose and the transformational power that comes with connecting with the supernatural. It gives you hope. But it does NOT give you a pass from pain and suffering.

Today, I asked a friend how she was doing; she said she wasn’t complaining, because she’d complained too much last week. She was choosing not to complain any more. While I value her maturity and respect her decision to choose her words carefully, I wondered as I walked away, What is she suffering from? What’s the cause of her complaint? I care about what is really happening in my friend’s soul, even if she feels like she is complaining. I’d be happy to hear the truth.

I’ll quote Erickson here to finish:

Any real connection involves vulnerability. Whether in marriage or friendship – or even with a stranger – a relationship can progress only so far along the normal platitudes of strength and accomplishment. It is only when we have exhausted our tales of trophy winning, when we let down our guards, and speak to the truths about our travels, that we find that where we really connect as humans is in the places we have found we walk with a limp.

Scott Erickson

I’m a fan of “really connecting,” and most happy when I’m limping along with everybody else.

One thought on “Advent Journal: Vulnerability

  1. So sorry to hear about your poor ear. That stinks. Vulnerability. Ah, that one trait that we all say we “want” to embrace, but one that our ego keeps screaming is not safe for us. So we internalize the pain it causes to resist it, until we one day finally see that it is the ONLY way we can truly walk through ANYthing. We have to let the feelings be felt, openly welcome them, and watch them go like leaves going down a stream. The suffering is in the resistance. The pain is in the attachment to wanting things be as we want them to be, not as they are. And so is the walk of life. Wash, rinse, repeat. I’m learning that exercising that muscle daily is the key.


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