Definition according to Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary
1. capable of being physically or emotionally wounded
2. open to [verbal or physical] attack or damage
When I hear the word vulnerable, it may feel a bit scary but I ultimately see it as a positive word. I was taken back when I found this definition. Opening ourselves up to others and situations is good, but being vulnerable also can open up the possibility of being attacked or wounded. I recently listened to an interview of Brené Brown from NPR's On Being. Her definition of vulnerability is different. She defines vulnerability as being "whole-hearted"; having the ability to feel with our whole heart. That aligns with my personal definition even though it is just as scary!
This week our church is trying something new for Vacation Bible School. It has all the makings of VBS on the surface. If you search deeper, it will feel more like a Worship and Arts camp. It is an idea that originated at a meeting with leaders in our congregation. This week is hitting all the points we hoped for. Through story, song, art and active learning, the children are listening to each other and to God more than any other year. So why am I feeling vulnerable?
Instead of the normal tweaking we do each year to a purchased curriculum, I have written many of the lessons and adapted liturgical art ideas to the interest and abilities of elementary age children. Now that the planning is finished and the week is here, I feel open and exposed about the plans, ideas and lessons. Will they work? Will others find the ideas silly? Will everything build and grow as the week progresses? Most importantly, will the children and leaders know that God loves them and is alive and active in their lives today?
It is only Wednesday. I am trying to live into the vulnerability. I am trying to embrace this week with my whole heart; with an open heart that doesn't have an armed guard standing watch. What I've seen so far is that God is at work. God is loving and breathing into the children, leaders and moments of Vacation Bible School. And I also feel the Spirit breathing into me; into my open, vulnerable, whole heart.
While the word may not be new, the attempt at being comfortable in my own "whole-heartedness" is!
Does this sound familiar? How often are you able to engage in life with your whole heart?