“Do you want to be a prophet?” Thomas asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Everywhere I go, I meet people, old and young, from all over the world, and they tell me about their lives, their relationships, broken families, their addictions, shame, guilt, failures. You’ll never be able to speak into their souls unless you speak the truth about your own wounds. You need to tell them what our Lord has come to mean to you in the midst of your disappointments and losses. All ministry begins at the ragged edges of our own pain,” he said.
“Do you know the story of Rabbi Zusya?” he asked. “He was Chasidic master who lived in the 1700s. One day he said, “When I get to the heavenly court, God will not ask me ‘Why weren’t you Moses?’ Rather he will ask me, ‘Why were you not Zusya?’” Thomas let that thought hang in the air for a moment, then continued. “Churches should be places where people come to hear the story of God and to tell their own. That’s how we find out how the two relate. Tell your story with all of its shadows and fog, so people can understand their own. They want a leader who’s authentic, someone trying to figure out how to follow the Lord Jesus in the joy and wreckage of life. They need you, not Moses,” he said.
This is a quote from the book Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron. Thomas goes on to talk about Christianity as “living dangerously open”, “living an unprotected life”.
Can I say how much I want to be safe? I want my family to be safe. I’ve lived in numerous countries, travelled a lot, partaken in adventure/extreme sports, wandered the streets of cities, chased muggers down the road, and yet I have this deep desire to be safe. I want to be emotionally safe. I’ve been vulnerable to people who have abused that gift that I gave to them and so I shy from admitting weaknesses and pain. My weaknesses are many, my pain is present and yet I try so hard to hide these things from other people – probably coming across as both confident and arrogant. That is not my desire, but I got to tell you that this whole vulnerability thing scares the poop out of me.
I’m not talking about airing all my dirty laundry on Facebook or my blog. I’m talking about speaking with an authentic voice about the things that I am going through and have gone through. I’m talking about moving on from small talk to soul talk. I’m not talking about a polite dabbing of the eyes, but about weeping. I’m talking about intimacy and not fluff.
I also know that along with weeping, there is laughter. Along with the sobs there needs to be frivolity and jokes and the mundane. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and.
My oldest son will be starting school this year. I’m not worried about him academically, but my heart aches for the pain that I know he’ll experience as his social world opens up. The pain that we humans inflict on each other both intentionally & unknowingly. I don’t want to see him suffer. I do know that if I try to protect him from the pain he might receive at the hand of others, I will deny him the joy and grace and life that he can receive from others as well.
It comes down to this, I don’t want to get hurt. I don’t want my friends and family to get hurt. I don’t want people to laugh at me or think less of me. That’s no way to live life. Because the pain is worth the gift of relationship.
I want to go forward living life wide open – to people, to experiences, to joy, to pain, to community, to wonder.