Me Too! The Ministry of Vulnerability
by Sue Tell
And we all, with unveiled faces, … are being transformed …
II Corinthians 3:18
Yes, the social media campaign ignited the Me Too message.
No, I was never sexually abused.
Yes, I'm raising my hands, me too, but with a different message.
I have experienced the ministry of vulnerability. As Brene Brown says, "vulnerability is at the core of meaningful human experiences".
Vulnerability starts with transparency. The women raising their hands on social media are transparently sharing a piece of their story. Unless transparency moves beyond the telling of your story, vulnerability doesn't happen and ministry is short-circuited.
Bill and I had a hard engagement story. That time that was supposed to be all joy and fun in the planning for our wedding and marriage wasn't that way for us. Not everyone thought we should get married. There were other difficult relationships to deal with. There was the tension of long-distance planning. There were needed changes we didn't anticipate or want. I was trying to protect God's reputation. (I imagine God was laughing at that one, he doesn't need my protection; I need his.) We barreled through. We were transparent about our hurts with a select few. We were vulnerable with one. Time alone did not heal, but time + vulnerability took us on a journey that brought hope, understanding, and healing.
Being in campus ministry, we are privileged to be included on many budding love stories. We listen, we support, we encourage ... but in the early years, we rarely shared our story, until ... others began sharing transparently with us their difficult engagement stories. Really? Me too!!!
It was the me too, that opened the doors of ministry; that taught us about the wisdom and the power of transparency leading to vulnerability. Me too is a powerful declaration in the hand of God. Transparency lifts the weight of the hard, but if it stops there, there is no value in the experience.
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,"
The working for good comes in the vulnerability. Bill and I have discovered four statements that lead us from transparency to vulnerability, from the “me too” to experiencing the love and wisdom of God.
Four decisions of vulnerability:
1. I choose to reveal myself to you. (Me too)
2. I choose to give permission to you to ask me anything.
3. I choose to allow you to teach me.
4. I choose to come under your influence.
It is the fourth decision that opens the door to vulnerability. In the months leading up to our marriage, we chose to come under the influence of a godly older man. That made all the difference. His counsel, love, wisdom, and support provided the needed courage to continue to follow God in the midst of the messiness. Thank you, Alan.
“The world has enough women who live a masked insecurity. It needs more women who live a brave vulnerability.” -Ann Voskamp
Father, please help us to love enough, to lead the way, to have courage enough to be vulnerable with our friends, and to speak with unveiled faces so that many would experience Your love in new and deeper ways. Amen
Sue Tell and her husband Bill have been married for almost 46 years and have served on the staff of The Navigators for 46 years as well. Although their official roles have changed over the years, the campus ministry has always been a part. Sue writes a weekly faith-based blog, Echoes of Grace, that you can find at suetell.com. (Echoes of Grace is "on leave" for the months of July and August for some website updates but will return September 6.) Sue also enjoys facilitating Sabbath-Living retreats to help women grow in their friendship with God. Bill and Sue have two married sons, five grands, and her favorite walking buddy, a Golden Retriever named Lexie.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to the interview “War and the Family" so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
This 2-part resource is designed to help families prepare for, and deal with the challenges of separation during war-time deployment. In Part 1 one, the Betters interview a husband and wife whose marriage was severely tested by stress of the husband’s deployment. In Part 2, war-time a 20 year career officer, his wife and their teenage daughter share their thoughts and feeling on how war-time deployment affected the family.