Friday, February 20, 2015

Brene Brown and Bartimaeus: Vulnerability and Healing

From our opening devotion at the Christ Church Cathedral chapter meeting, Thursday, February 19, 2015.

“Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in. Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.

“When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make.
“Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience. We must walk into the arena, whatever it may be – a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation – with courage and the willingness to engage. Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice, we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.”  - Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

Take a minute and ponder: What makes you afraid to be vulnerable?

"They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’ So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said to him, ‘My teacher, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way." - Mark 10:46-52

Take a minute and ponder: Where do we as a Cathedral most need healing?

When I ask myself the question "Why am I afraid to be vulnerable?" at the top of the list is REJECTION. It's a scary word and it's a big fear.  I'm afraid that I will show a piece of myself, something that's raw and real, and other people -- maybe even people whose opinion I really value and whose love I really want -- will laugh or ridicule or even just disagree with me in a way that will play old tapes in my head about my own unlovableness and unworthiness.

I love the story of Bartimaeus because there is so much going on here ... and the first thing that is happening is courage.

Bartimaeus dares to be vulnerable. He shouts to this hotshot rabbi, Jesus -- HEY! I'M OVER HERE! HELP ME!  And then his worst fear (OK, maybe it isn't his but it would be mine) happens --- he gets rejected. The disciples say "Sit down and shut up, Bartimaeus!"

But Bartimaeus has got it going on, and we hear that he cried out even more loudly. That's Daring GREATLY! And Jesus LOVES it. And he tells these same disciples that had been sneering at Bartimaeus to bring him into the very center of the community. And Bartimaeus goes all in -- he throws off his cloak, not hiding a thing -- and goes to Jesus.

And then Jesus asks Bartimaeus one of the most amazing questions in all of scripture.

What do you want me to do for you?

Just imagine if Jesus walked up to you and said:

"What do you want me to do for you?" 

Not in an Aladdin/Three Wishes kind of way, but looking deep in your eyes and inviting you to name your deepest wound. For me, it would be the ultimate approach/avoidance situation -- I can have my deepest brokenness healed, but first I have to admit it -- to Christ and to myself.

And Bartimaeus tells Jesus his heart's desire "My teacher, let me see again." And when we tell someone our heart's desire, we put our heart in their hand and give them the potential for throwing it on the ground and grinding it under their heel. But of course that's not what Jesus does ... he says "Go. Your faith has made you well" ... and Bartimaeus not only regains his sight but, maybe even more significantly, he becomes part of this community that just minutes before had been telling him to shut up and stay begging by the side of the road.

There is a link between vulnerability and healing. As followers of Jesus, we know this. We know this because the ultimate instance of power and the doorway to the resurrection is the ultimate instance of vulnerability ... Christ nailed to the cross.

The healing power of Christ is available to each and all of us -- but we have to walk through that doorway of vulnerability first. We have to name our brokenness and risk -- and sometimes even suffer -- rejection.

Where do we need healing at Christ Church Cathedral? Last night at Chapter we named several things -- internal disagreements about budget and mission, old conflicts that still fester, impatience, and our budget and finances themselves (which I know I often describe in medical terms as "hemorrhaging money.").

Where do we need healing in our lives? In our own struggles with addiction? In (in the beautiful words of the Ash Wednesday litany) "our anger at our own frustration?" In our fear? In our feelings of inadequacy, unlovability and unworthiness?

Brene Brown says: "Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement."

Bartimaeus enagaged. Bartimaeus dared greatly. He cried out to Jesus, risked and braved rejection, flung off his cloak and spoke the truth of his deepest pain and his heart's desire.

Our ability to receive the healing power of Christ's love is up to us. And our only choice is a question of engagement.

1 comment:

Gary said...

News Alert: Scientists have proven the Bible False

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. –the Bible

The ancient Hebrews and therefore the early Christians believed that above the earth, God had created a “firmament” or domed ceiling, upon which he hung the sun, moon, stars, and planets. Heaven was directly above this “ceiling”.

Let’s now look at the story of the Ascension of Jesus:

When he (Jesus) had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” -The Bible

If you lived in the first century AD and believed that heaven was just on the other side of the firmament or “ceiling" above the earth, then it would be very consistent with your worldview to believe that if Jesus was going to return to heaven, all he had to do was to ascend past the clouds and he would soon reach the "ceiling" of the firmament, to which are hung the planets, the sun, and moon, and he then would pierce the firmament to enter heaven. And if one can look up and see the planets and stars, then these heavenly objects must be within a day's travel time. You would know this by common sense: if you can see a mountain in the distance, chances are you can reach it in a day's time. So believing that Jesus could ascend to heaven, at a speed slow enough for his disciples to watch him ascend into the clouds, would be completely consistent with this world view.

The problem for the Bible, and for Christians who believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of the Creator, is that this worldview has been proven absolutely false by modern science. There is no firmament. Jesus could not have reached the outer reaches of the universe to enter heaven moving at a speed at which humans could watch him ascend. Scientists have demonstrated that for a rocket or space ship to reach the next closest galaxy to our own, the Andromeda Galaxy, it would take two million LIGHT YEARS to get there!

Unless Jesus entered a tractor beam once he got into the clouds, a tractor beam that "beamed him up" to heaven like Captain Kirk would regularly do on Star this very in outer space, putting along, somewhere between earth and the Andromeda Galaxy. Bombshell! Jesus hasn't made it to heaven yet! Jesus is not sitting at the right hand of God the Father as the Bible claims.

Thus, scientists have proven the Bible false.

Trust science, my friends, not the scientifically ignorant superstitions and legends of ancient peoples, nor their holy books, full of preposterous supernatural claims.