“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” – Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.
So, pastor, how transparent dare ye be?
When I restarted blogging a couple of weeks ago I had hoped to post something every day. I’m still moving in that direction, but I’ve come across a mental/emotional roadblock.
How public should my life be?
I have several partially-written posts in my “Drafts” folder. I abandoned them because I found myself revealing a little more than I really wanted to share. When writing confessionally and transparently, it’s easy to get carried away. To get a little too transparent. A little too vulnerable.
There’s a part of me that wants to blog about my experience as a divorced pastor. When my marriage fell apart, so did my previous (and reasonably successful) blog. But I can’t bring myself to do it. My kids read this. Their mother could read it. And I don’t want to present myself as someone who is hung up in that period of my life, because I’m not. But it is an experience that has helped shape the man I have become. And I don’t want to be unfair in any way to my kids or their mother. So I’m not going there.
In another draft I got a little too political. I have my political convictions, as do most adults, but I hate the way people act in political discourse these days, especially with the false veil of anonymity provided by the internet. So I like to avoid that stress.
Yet I think about a man whom I admire. He’s a preacher, a pastor, and a colleague. At one time he was my pastor. He has a very confessional preaching style. He openly admits his struggles with scripture. He tells stories of personal failure from the pulpit. I had a conversation with him about how much I admired his confessional manner, and he told me it’s intentional. “I always go back to that passage from Isaiah, ‘by his wounds we are healed,'” (Isaiah 53:5) “Perhaps in sharing our wounds, we are all healed.”
“Isn’t it kind of dangerous to be so vulnerable?” I asked.
“Very,” he replied. “There are people who will use your vulnerability to their advantage. But the relationships that get strengthened outweigh the risks.”
Vulnerability allows us to see one another in a state of realness, for lack of a better word. We are more authentically present, more massively there. We’re no longer dressed in our Sunday best, plastic smile pasted on our faces, pretending to have it all together. We’re just together, attempting to live out our salvation in fear and trembling. Vulnerability opens passageways to transformation. It can build and strengthen relationships. It can allow us to deal with anxieties, sin, doubt, hurt, and brokenness – and it refuses to let us deal with them alone. It can allow us to share in our burdens.
So, as a pastor and a blogger, I live in a kind of weird tension. On the one hand, vulnerability can do tremendous good: it canmake me human, relatable, and open. On the other hand, it can do harm: I can disclose things that would be harmful to my personal relationships and my own relatively peaceful life.
I don’t have an easy answer. How transparent should I be? How transparent dare I be? I don’t really know. I guess I’ll just have to play it by ear.