I’m finding it really interesting that the social science behind the talks I’ve come across in the past couple of weeks have reinforced the messages I would have heard growing up in a Christian environment. This one on vulnerability and the need to accept – nay, embrace – the hardships and uncertainties of life reminds me of one basic principle so often forgotten in a world so hard-bent on making everything perfect and/or easy: life comes with its crosses and we can only really thrive when we accept that (and accept the grace to carry them).
I get that not everyone will see the link to Christianity (especially if you’re not Christian – duh), and that’s totally ok. This talk will resonate for so many different reasons.
For one, Brené Brown is really funny. And for someone who is unpacking shame, guilt and the need for belonging in 20min, humour really helps.
Like Brené, for a long time I hated the idea of being vulnerable. I still struggle with it sometimes daily. For a long time being vulnerable meant being weak, and I just grew up believing ain’t nobody got time fo’ weak. Weakness was a reason for others to lose respect of me, to not trust me, to outsmart, outrank and outlast me. Weakness was a mark of unworthiness. Funny though, because for as long as I felt that way about vulnerability, I felt unworthy.
Now that I look back, it was only when I came to accept my vulnerability that I started to believe I was worthy. Worthy to receive love, worthy to receive help, worthy to be protected, worthy to ask questions when I didn’t understand (which is often)…
And it was only when I came to accept that there will always be an element of weakness in me – and that that is totally ok – that I found a great sense of strength. Weird, I know. But true. As I grew to accept vulnerability as a part of who I am as a human being, I realised I am enough. I am not perfect. I don’t need to be. Because I am a work in progress. I don’t have to always be on top of my game. I can make mistakes. We all do.
And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect.
Or in Christian terms; if Jesus stumbled under the weight of the cross on His way to Calvary, so can I.
There is actually something very honest, raw and humble about being ok with being weak/not being the best/not needing to be perfect… Perhaps that’s why accepting vulnerability is actually quite liberating – even empowering. Weird huh? Counterintuitive right? But so, so refreshing.
We perfect, most dangerously, our children. Let me tell you what we think about children. They’re hardwired for struggle when they get here. And when you hold those perfect little babies in your hand, our job is not to say, “Look at her, she’s perfect. My job is just to keep her perfect – make sure she makes the tennis team by fifth grade and Yale by seventh grade.” That’s not our job. Our job is to look and say, “You know what? You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” That’s our job. Show me a generation of kids raised like that, and we’ll end the problems I think we see today.
Amen, sister. AMEN.