Vulnerability

When Moses was born, the Israelite people were getting more numerous and powerful than the Egyptians, so the Pharoah declared that all newborn Israelite boys were to be killed. At first his mother hid him. When that became impossible, she came up with a risky scheme to keep him alive. She prepared a basket so that it would float in the water, and placed Moses in the basket in the river among the reeds. His sister stood close enough to watch what was happening to him, so when the daughter of Pharoah found Moses crying and had compassion on him, his sister emerged and offered to find a Hebrew woman to nurse him.

Every aspect of this story involves vulnerability. Suppose Moses’s mother had just kept him with her until he was found by the authorities. Suppose the Pharoah’s daughter hadn’t risked violating her father’s order. Suppose the sister had been too afraid to step forward to speak to someone so powerful. What follows from this story is that Moses becomes the leader of the Hebrew people and brings them out of slavery in Egypt.

If you look at stories of good things that have happened, you can’t help noticing the important role of vulnerability—something we tend, however, to avoid.

Even with friends or family members, co-workers, or one’s community, the vulnerability of speaking truth without being overly guarded or belligerent can make a difference. It requires being what I would call grounded in God, knowing one’s own truth, worth, and inner strength.

I live in a small town in which blacks traditionally have lived on the west side of the railroad tracks and whites on the east. In a panel presentation on growing up in the town in the 1950’s and 60’s, the one black person on the panel spoke clearly of the differences in what was possible and not allowed for her in contrast to what the white members of the panel had known. Exposed and vulnerable, she spoke without anger and with courage. Her truthfulness turned what could have been mere nostalgia into healing and community-building.

I believe that vulnerability leaves space for God to be at work.

Queries:

What is the difference between being vulnerable and being foolishly risk-taking?

What gives you the courage to be vulnerable and take risks?

Prayer:

Breathe in God’s deep and abiding love for you. Let that love wash away the negative and hurtful in you, letting yourself know that you are a beloved child of God and that what you have to offer matters, regardless of what others think.

For further reflection:

“From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering. . .” (Matthew 16:21)

“For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.” (See Luke 9: 23-25.)

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