by Apostoli_Viae


10
53

Vulnerability - the Path to Authentic Community

A very confident, extroverted member of Apostoli Viae Disciples (those who have made first promises) recently called me and told me that after they offered their thoughts in a community meeting, they heard, "That was really stupid, why did you say that?" "Why did you unmute yourself?" "You sounded so dumb." and "That was really prideful." She wrestled with these thoughts and negative emotions long after the meeting.

Fortunately, she is well-formed in the discernment of spirits and knew that it was important to fight, reject the thoughts, and get them out of her head by talking about it and by bringing the lie into the light so it would cower away as thieving cowards do when they are exposed. We had a short but fruitful conversation and I revealed to her that I regularly hear this from a number of people who participate in our formation and that I was aware that it was a very common and effective tactic of the enemy to fight against the important development of intimacy and vulnerability in community.

One of the essential building blocks of deep and healthy relationships in community, and especially with God, is vulnerability. A striking revelation into this kind of vulnerability occurs in scripture when Adam and Eve are in the garden with God. The author reveals that they were both "naked and unashamed." (Genesis 2:25). I have mused on this passage often, especially as I mature in Christ and become more and more clear about who I am in Him, and who He has called me to be. It has often come as a surprise that I find myself completely comfortable in my skin, at least as compared to the self-perception of the broken psyche of my youth. Stephanie and I have considered speaking on the topic of being "naked and unashamed" but this would have little to do with comfort with nudity! Instead, it has a great deal to do with knowing exactly who we are and where we stand before God, and knowing that in all of our brokenness, weakness, and poverty - our nakedness - He loves us and desires to be one with us anyway.

To the degree we are open and honest with God and one another (always in charity, patience, and gentleness) we will learn to know, love, and trust one another. We will learn that we can entrust our brokenness to God and to one another. To the degree we are vulnerable and open, we can walk together, serve each other, pray and work for the Kingdom in a powerful way that could never be otherwise known. To the degree we withhold and protect ourselves, the opposite occurs and the enemy causes further internal damage and narcissism.

Self-revelation to another is risky, especially with other broken humans after the fall. When you are vulnerable with God, you will never pay a price. It is, unfortunately, true that when we are vulnerable with other humans, there will be times when we are rewarded with betrayal, mockery, and even crucifixion.

So, we have the need to be vulnerable, and to face the challenges that will inevitably come.  How do we deal with that? How can we be vulnerable and at the same time build up a kind of immunity to the brokenness of humanity that will allow us to remain in relationships even when there are painful consequences?

The first and most powerful means of this immunity is to be close to Jesus so that His voice is the predominant voice in our hearts and minds, and that it is strong and loud enough to drown out all others. His voice speaks of His love for us, that we are His beloved, that He created each of us for an eternal relationship of love with Him. His eyes see all that we are and His voice, if we will hear it, gently assures us that we are loved and forgiven.

To the degree that we are clear about His voice and our relationship with Him, and live in the reality of the safety of our relationship with Him, that our identity is in Him, we will be less impacted by inevitable criticism and betrayal. Yes, it will still hurt, but we will have the powerful opportunity to embrace the pain, offer it up for the other ("Forgive them Lord for they know not what they do") and receive the healing that necessarily comes through the hand of our betrayer.

The second means of immunity is to recognize that union with Him cannot come but through betrayal, through the wounds caused by others, and through the cross. These painful means are not the only ones. Many pathways to union are delightful, peaceful, and desirable. But the cross of rejection is necessary nonetheless.  If we want to be like Christ, and to follow Him, we must enter into every part of His Passion and make it our own. Only then will we be ready to move beyond the cross to our own resurrection – a restored pace of being naked and unashamed – purified and healed – at peace with who we are in Him.

This is a hard but liberating truth that we must face if we are to know union with Him and one another - to know the depths and beauty of being unashamed and free. We must be in community with one another, and vulnerable to one another - this is a vital and inescapable aspect of the living reality of being the Body of Christ.

God reveals through St. Catherine of Siena that there is no such thing as a just-me-and-God path to heaven. Instead, He reveals that we are insufficient in and of ourselves to get to Heaven. Of course, we need God, but this revelation opens our hearts to the truth that we are designed in such a way that we need other human beings to be part of that redemptive process! This revelation sheds light on St. Paul’s admonition that for the Body of Christ to be healthy, many different people and gifts must come together as one.

How does the enemy work to destroy our unity and how can we fight against his means and ends?

Unrelenting vulnerability is the bane of his evil ends in the Church and in authentic community. His goal is first to divide, then to isolate, then to shame and shut down. Isolated he can own our hearts and minds and keep us from the redemptive path that God has for us. Usually, the enemy's central tactic is to use the words or the fear of the perception of others to drill into an unhealed wound from words or actions that have ripped into us in the past. This assures that even minor infractions of another, connected to a deeper thread of pain, will drive even small wounds into deep division and factions. What would otherwise be only a minor scratch now becomes part of a gaping, unhealed, and now inflamed injury. The event of offense, though often simple and unintended, becomes extremely complex. The “accuser of the brethren” then urges the wounded to make judgments about motive and intent. This urging is easily embraced in times of weakness. Finally, he pours his demonic salt on these open sores which, like acid, burn into the souls involved, and relationships are torn apart.

This is one of the many reasons new members of Apostoli Viae are required to diligently study discernment of spirits so that they can identify these attacks and understand what to do about them. If we draw near to Jesus and energetically follow the rules of discernment, at every wound, at every vulnerable event, at every whisper of fear and accusation, instead of bondage, we find our way to freedom and healing. We chose the path of Jesus in the womb of Mary – the way of vulnerability. The very encounter that can destroy becomes the pathway to healing.

You are not stupid. You are a daughter of the King. You are a son of the King. Your thoughts, ideas, desires, aspirations are all important to the King of Kings. They are also important to us, your friends on the Way. Be vulnerable. Lean into the pain and the healing God is calling you to. Fight and forgive. We need you. Learn to fight toward each other when it hurts. Only then will you know what only the wounded and healed ones know: the presence and healing of God in and through community. Eventually, if you stay with it, you will know what it means to be "naked and unashamed."

Comments

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  • Diana von Glahn (AV1-M)

    Diana von Glahn (AV1-M)

    I remember, when I first joined AV, it was shortly after I'd removed myself completely from social media. I was angry and tired of the faux "friendships" that the medium offered. My guard was up, and I was not interested in making any more phony friends. To top it off, I had grown convinced--after three other failed attempts at joining lay religious communities--that "God didn't make me a joiner." I am so grateful that you made AV so appealing, Dan! Because otherwise, I'd have raised my nose at it, too, and, in my pride and stupidity, I would never have learned how to walk on this narrow path, God willing, on the way to Heaven. Since then, I have become convinced that Apostoli Viae is one of the safest places I've ever inhabited. Apostoli Viae members aren't just nice, but they are real, sincere, and we all love one another. We all want to help each other get to heaven, and to help one another endure the purification that Our Lord performs in us to get us there. It's funny how much my way of thinking has changed since being here. I feel the chip on my shoulder being chipped away. (Or, should I say, the red lizard?!) I see myself doing things I never thought possible--enduring hurts without exploding. Loving those who aren't (on the outside) very lovable. In fact, last night in class, as you spoke of the Dark Night, and how so many were afraid of it, I couldn't help but think, "Yes, Lord. If this is necessary for me to be by Your side for eternity, rip everything away from me. Anything for You." I'm sure, when God takes me up on that offer, I'll whine about it, as my ability to endure mortification needs a lot of strengthening, but with love... anything is possible. Thank you for introducing me to the Narrow Way, and for showing us all how to walk it with love, joy, laughter, and vulnerability.
  • Kristin Priola

    Kristin Priola

    Amen, amen, amen! There is so much power in vulnerability. I have left AV meetings in the past after sharing my heart and have been immediately attacked by the enemy. It used to tear me up. I am grateful to now know DOS and how to fight when the enemy lies to me because I hear his lies almost every time I share–but I reject it now! There is an abundance of love and encouragement in this community which I am grateful for. Last Saturday when I shared and cried in Disciples–the enemy basically told me that nothing I said had value and it was just a bunch of empty tears and words that didn't make sense. I immediately knew that was a lie because Jesus would never say that to me, so I rejected it. Then every time it crept back up, someone would send a little encouraging note in the chat. It was like clockwork! SO grateful for all of you and for our Lord who knows me in my weakness.
  • Diana von Glahn (AV1-M)

    Diana von Glahn (AV1-M)

    @Kristin--it's a lie. :) What you shared was awesome. You are awesome and valued.
  • Avis Gomez

    Avis Gomez

    Diana, you have been an amazing leader during this very difficult time. Not to mention your beautiful prayer corner! I have been a loner in my spiritual journey until I started Spiritual Director education at my local Catholic college. By loner I mean I attend church but don't do social activities. I serve in ministries but keep an arms length from the parish community. I find myself behaving similar here because my personality is introverted so I prefer one on one conversations. With the explosion of members (a wonderful blessing) mixed personalities will share, and some people just like to hear (see) themselves talk. I pray that with Dan and Stephanie's leadership we can preserve the gift of love. Thanks for your principle for this community.
  • Teresa McReynolds (AV2)

    Teresa McReynolds (AV2)

    So much here...how true it is the enemy enters into the wounded area and perhaps unknowingly, places I have tried to guard and protect so as not to be wounded again. How true your words ring to the lies of not being not good enough, holy enough, not advanced enough so as to walk with these holy and devout men and women, believing oneself to be unworthy and a failure...these lies if not rejected immediately I have seen how one can draw back because of the hurt. Then by not bringing the lie to the light (because we are convinced it IS true) it festers and division grows. The lies take on its own life and its own story...all seemly true but untrue. I have experienced this time and again and it is only through the men and women here, who have walked with me, and I have learned by their examples and been encouraged by their words that I am seeing a great change when these lies creep in...Reject immediately! Immediately is the modifier which I can not stress enough. Jeannette and Tesa taught me to say “I will not partner with you satan...I will not take part in this lie”. Life changing. Yet I must state, time and again, as I learned in a discernment of spirits to utilize rule 13 over and over. Once again without delay, bring it to the light. Just yesterday, another disciple revealed the truth and immediately I found hope where I began to doubt. I cannot give thanks enough for the rules of discernment in my life. Truly learning and implementing them in my life have been life changing. Now I will press send. I will want to re-read what I have written. I would tend to want to delete and correct, but in my vulnerability with you my brothers and sisters, I have found freedom to be naked before you. Just as I am, in my brokenness, I come before you and rejoice in this freedom. May God be praised for the work He has begun in me, in us and the Truth which He has revealed to us.
  • Nissa Chadwick (AV1)

    Nissa Chadwick (AV1)

    Over the past year vulnerability has been the word the Lord has had for me. I know sometimes people ask the Lord to give them a word for the year at the turn of the calendar year and I have never felt really called to that exercise, but I see as I type this that the Lord has had this word, vulnerability, for me whether I asked for it or not! In the past couple of weeks alone this word has been been brought to me numerous times in conversations, in prayer, and even in what I am reading and listening to. I have noticed that while my enthusiasm for Apostoli Viae has not waned I have pulled back in my engagement. Admittedly it is my own shame and insecurity that keeps me silent and farther away (and the enemy's poking of old-but-still-healing wounds). I recognize it as the enemy and I do fight it to an extent, but my pulling back also silences the voices so it becomes easy to live in the "turned in on myself" place, if that makes sense. So, this is my fight today, posting, rather than staying silent.
  • Diana von Glahn (AV1-M)

    Diana von Glahn (AV1-M)

    @Nissa--you go girl. ;)
  • Nissa Chadwick (AV1)

    Nissa Chadwick (AV1)

    @Avis, take heart, you are here with fellow introverts (and shy people, which when combined can make for a double whammy)!
  • Lori Myers

    Lori Myers

    Many years ago, a wise nun offered to share with me one of my many faults. She told me “You care far too much about what people think of you”. It stung when she uttered this truth but she was right. My own pride-fullness makes me hold back. I’ve clearly done that in AV. I read posts, attend a class, listening to meetings and am amazed at people’s knowledge etc... The Evil One constantly reminds me to not participate because you will look dumb. Thank-you for this post. Get behind me Satan!
  • Yalile Deal (AV2)

    Yalile Deal (AV2)

    Naked and unashamed. I LOOOOVE THAT IDEA!. Saint John Paul the Second favor frase "Be Not Afraid!!!! he knew that right after the fall, Adam and Eve cover up because they were naked and ashamed. When I learn that, I made myself work extremely hard not to be ashamed. I worry about sharing here because my English is not as good as Diana Von Glahn (hehe). It really isn't..... but because I have no shame, I share every now and then. I always make grammar mistakes, even if I review over and over and over. But, because satan wants me to stop from sending a word of encouragement or just a simple note of LOVE to you "Mi Familia". I will continue sharing, even if it doesn't come right. I just pray you guys understand by the power of The Holy Spirit what God wants to communicate trough me. "Naked and unashamed"

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