guest post by Brandy Walker
My three-year-old looked at me with big eyes yesterday. He told me that he does not want to be a grownup. And I laughed because I get it. Sometimes it’s really not very fun.
Meanwhile, my middle schooler keeps trying to sneak into the high school group at our church. She’s overwhelmed with problems that feel far too old for her. Struggling with the desire to be perfect and have everyone around her fall in line, too. That unique, torturous feeling of not-enoughness that often strikes previously confident young girls around puberty.
My son is a lot like his dad. Never in a hurry. Completely comfortable where he is.
My daughter, on the other hand, is exactly like me. As I battle my own demons of perfection and performance and doubt, it breaks my heart to watch her as she watches me and takes up her own sword.
I think of Jesus, when he talked about being a mother hen, wanting to hold us. I know he gets it.
I long to wrap her up in my arms. To gently shake all the insecurities off her shoulders. But I feel like I’ve got to work on my stuff before I can even begin to think about helping her with hers.
That’s what we’re told, right? I’ve got to get rid of my plank first.
It doesn’t work that way in parenting. You don’t get the luxury of waiting until you’ve got it all together before you have to approach your kids with seemingly sage advice.
The frustrating thing, of course, is that Jesus was perfect. He actually had sage advice.
When we think about being like him, though, I don’t think it’s perfection that we’re talking about. It’s the way he connected with people. It’s the way he tore down the old ideals of what being perfect is supposed to look like.
You could even say that he wasn’t perfect. Because perfect is a static state. It’s unchanging, steeped in tradition.
Instead, you could say he was what Brené Brown calls wholehearted. That is, he had the strength to be vulnerable.
Cultivating deep, loving friendships with men and women requires authentic vulnerability.
Telling people the truth in gentle yet challenging ways requires authentic vulnerability.
Getting pissed off at the broken systems and doing something about it requires authentic vulnerability.
Being scared of your calling and asking for it to be taken away, but ultimately submitting to the purpose of your life requires massive amounts of authentic vulnerability.
I am a writer and a life coach. I teach people how to find their purpose and go after it full-tilt, in the midst of real and messy life. Since I became a Christian 11 years ago, I’ve had a growing fascination with Lent. It’s about repentance and fasting and I suck at both of those things.
But I love how Lent follows Jesus as he accepts his own life purpose—one that led him to a place most of us would never want to fathom. But one that, as Christians, we celebrate, wholeheartedly. Because he showed us a new way.
One of the criticisms we get as a church is that we focus too much on Jesus’ death and not enough on his life. That’s what got me thinking about vulnerability.
I believe that it’s our drive to be perfect—prefect parents, perfect kids, perfect feminists, perfect students, perfect activists, perfect progressive Christians—that keeps us from stepping into our big, wide-open dreams.
A couple of years ago, I started an e-course called Be, a journey through Lent. Last year, we focused on rest and sabbath and deep self-care. Sometimes, in order to pursue your calling, you must first curl up into a ball.
But after the soul-filling rest, what happens next?
How do you do find the meaning of your life in the middle of your actually crazy life?
I believe the answer can be found in authentic vulnerability. And I believe the journey through the Lenten season is the *perfect* vehicle for real transformation here.
In Be this year, we’ll create a safe space where we can take off our armour. We’ll talk about shame and the lies we tell ourselves. Once again, we’ll practice deep self-care. We’ll laugh and cry and bake together. We’ll find the courage and the breathing room, together, to find or submit to our purposes. We’ll create and solidify our sacred friendships as we walk closer and closer to Holy Week. Finally, we’ll celebrate Easter with all its new and outrageous implications.
Through it all, we’ll face life’s challenges as they come. We’ll hug our kids when they need to be hugged. We’ll trust their love when they want nothing to do with us. We’ll face good and hard personal news together. We’ll celebrate new jobs and dreams and possibilities.
Hopefully, we’ll walk away with new friends, a renewed commitment to our purpose in the world, and the profound sense that through it all we’ll have the strength to remain authentically vulnerable.
If that sounds like something you need in your life, I hope you’ll join us. The class starts on February 15th, but you have until Friday, the 20th, to sign up. If money is an issue, there are scholarships available.
Whether you’re dashing through life like my daughter and I, or plodding along at a brilliantly steady pace like the males in our family, may your direction lead you to your passion and your purpose.
May you always find the strength to be where you are.