Saturday, December 02, 2006


There are some things that people say that stick in your head for a long time. For me, one of those was from going to a conference at some small town in North Dakota (where I attended graduate school). The presenter was talking about his therapeutic approach, and how he works with people to get out of self-defeating patterns in their lives. When it came to working with romantic partners, one of the things he focused on was the ability to be vulnerable. How there is far more power and effectiveness in saying "that hurts me" or "I guess I'm just really scared you're going to leave me" -- rather than hurling insults, accusations, etc.

That notion, the strength of being real, being vulnerable, has stuck with me. I go back to it with some frequency in my clinical work. I try to live up to that wisdom in my personal life.

So I find myself thinking about this idea again now that we've entered the season of advent, a season of preparation, so they say. Preparation for God coming into the world, preparation for letting God into our lives.

But what would that look like? How would we know? Putting aside the notion of God being everywhere for just a moment, how do we attune ourselves to be aware of moments when God is present most powerfully?

I like to think that the humbleness with which Christ entered the world is a hint in what to look for. Not in signs of war, anger, self-righteousness, or ideology -- but perhaps instead for places where there is genuineness, vulnerability, even weakness. Perhaps that means expanding our awareness and action in issues of social justice (such as attending to the devastation in Darfur). Perhaps that means paying extra attention when people around us show the bravery of being vulnerable. Or perhaps that means that we, too, are called upon to be more vulnerable at times. To speak from the deepest and most genuine areas of our hearts to those we love, to enter into dialogue rather than trading accusations.

The great paradox here, whether viewed through the lens of psychology or when considering the humble circumstances of Christ's birth, is that power comes through humility, through vulnerability.

No comments: