Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lent Reflection: Worthy of Love

The Lenten Reflection Blog is still going strong! I hope you all are enjoying reading it!

Thursday, April 3, today, is my second reflection. Here it is in case you missed it on the YASC Lenten Blog.

"The LORD said to Moses, ‘Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshipped it and sacrificed to it, and said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” ’But Moses implored the LORD his God, and said, ‘O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, “It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth”? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, “I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it for ever.” ’ And the LORD changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people." 
-Exodus 32:7-8, 11-14

We all have a desire to make connections. We all have a desire to belong. We all have a desire to be loved. It’s part of being human. We are hardwired for it.

But how do we make these connections?

Vulnerability. In order to make connections with one another, we have to show up and allow ourselves to be seen.

Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly and researcher of vulnerability, writes and speaks greatly about the importance of accepting vulnerability in our own lives. As she points out in her book and TEDxHouston Talk, nobody wants to talk about vulnerability but we can’t ignore it. To become numb to vulnerability is to become numb to all emotions.

“Our rejection of vulnerability often stems from our associating it with dark emotions like fear, shame, grief, sadness, and disappointment – emotions that we don’t want to discuss, even when they profoundly affect the way we live, love, work and even lead,” writes Brown. We need to realize vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. Brown explains, “I know vulnerability is the core of shame, and fear and our struggle for worthiness but it appears it is also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.”

If we become numb to vulnerability, yes, we become numb to those dark emotions and fear nobody wants to feel. However, we also numb happiness, joy, gratitude, and then we become lost searching for our purpose and meaning. We lose our connections. We become disengaged. We live in fear. We think we are weak. We believe we are unworthy of love and belonging.

But why do we become numb?

We feel shame. We wake up every day and say, “I’m not _____(blank)”. I’m not thin enough. I’m not brave enough. I’m not pretty enough. I’m not good enough. I’m not perfect.

And it’s that feeling of imperfection that we all struggle with. It’s that desire to be perfect or bulletproof that stops us from feeling vulnerable. It stops us from sharing an unpopular opinion, to asking for help, saying no, trying something new, saying “I love you” first, and not knowing if you’re going to be loved back, having faith.

When I imagine God, I think of him as all knowing, untouchable, free of shame and vulnerability. However, God’s core is full of emotions. And in today’s reading of Exodus, we see God’s vulnerability out in the open. He opened himself up to make connections. He said, “I love you,” first to the Israelites, who began worshipping a cow instead of finding God worthy enough to worship. A cow! Well, that’s a little insulting.

Then the feeling of shame started bubbling up. God couldn’t let the Egyptians know he went through all this trouble to free, to engage, to connect with the Israelites only to be rejected by them. He couldn’t let them know he dared greatly and failed. But Moses comes to remind the Lord that everyone is worthy of love and belonging even these who worship the image of a calf. And so the Lord lets go of his shame realizing that opening the possibility of a connection with the Israelites is worth it even if he fails.

And throughout the Bible, God has the courage, becomes vulnerable, has faith to say “I love you,” “you are worthy of love,” and “you are worthy of this connection with me,” even if he’s unsure the people will accept him in return.

As Brown says, “vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” They may not always be comfortable feelings, but they are not weakness. The sense of courage allows for wholehearted living, a deep sense of worthiness. Courage comes from the Latin word “cour” meaning heart. The original definition when it first came into the English language was to tell the whole story of who you are with your whole heart. 

Throughout her years of research Brown found she could divide the people she interviewed into those who had a sense of worthiness and belonging and those who struggle for it, those who wonder if they are always good enough. Brown called the people with a sense of worthiness, the Wholehearted. They are the people who have had a spiritual awakening, a sense of belonging, and a sense of courage.

Brown defines Wholehearted living as “engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone. I am enough. 

That’s what God is telling us day in and day out, “you are enough. I love you for who you are. I love you for all your imperfections. You are worthy of my love. You are worthy of your own love.”

Imagine if we all had this spiritual awakening. If we lived a while hearted life embracing vulnerability, not numbing our emotions. Not only would God tell us we are worthy of love and belonging, but we could tell others. We need to open ourselves up to connections and accepting ourselves and everyone else for their imperfections. Because we are all good enough.

Almighty and most merciful God, drive from us all weakness of body, mind and spirit; that, being restored to wholeness, we may with free hearts become what you intend us to be and accomplish what you want us to do; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. 


Thanks for reading!

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