I love the quiet ferocity of the sea. There is something magical and yet menacing in the wet, briny air, silver at dawn, and deep blue at noon. I am drawn to it, an unpredictable living thing, calm and welcoming, with open arms to embrace its audience one moment, and explosive and quick-tempered the next, tossing human beings about the coastline, vast and restless.
It is my favorite thing. Without the boundaries and fences of land, the water fosters both kinship and dependency. It is something I love, and it is something I respect. I understand both its beauty and its dangers because the ocean closely guards the mystery of its depths. I have spent innumerable hours at the edge of the sea studying each unique wave as it catches the light, the air, and the wind, watching the patterns and letting it take me. I have survived deep waters before; I know the way to shore.
We are all bodies of water, I suppose, more muted and marginal than the sea, but like the ocean hiding the truth of what we contain. Sometimes that invisibility is a gift, the perfect provision for transition and profound growth. But often, it is a culture of shame and secrets that taunts us to stay in the shadows. It keeps us small, resentful, and afraid. It is a place where we are encouraged to connect our self-worth to what we produce, a follied pride that seeks to snuff our innovation, creativity, and connection for the convenience and acceptability of those around us. It is easy to make small talk, but it is demanding to risk vulnerability and to speak of what is really under the surface. It is easy to joke but challenging to cry. It is easy to numb but hard to feel.
When I started writing this blog many years ago, it was a means of expression, but it has not come without risk. Writing is an act of deep vulnerability, and in divulging weaknesses without a filter, I have had to be willing and open for wounding. But being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the blessing and the beauty. Nothing is stronger and more clarifying than vulnerability. What I have discovered in the unembellished and unpolished narrative of my life is that the same softness that makes me a target also compels people to trust me with their stories. The delight of grace and freedom comes hand in hand with the uncomfortable, rawness of honest emotions and grief. But Jesus came passionate and raw, scandalously gracious. And I want to be like Him.
We are in the middle of a crisis that will force the writing of trauma and grief on the hearts of humanity. In my own experience, time and time again, I have learned that I cannot fast forward to morning without moving through the dark of night. And much of the time, the night seems endless. But wholeness is most often conceived in brokenness and hope is never wasted, because hope moves His heart.
Exercise the power of vulnerability, even as the world turns. Be honest. Be open and show your heart, even to the tiger that may be hiding in the tall grass. Embrace what pushes you to the margins because God has a beautiful way of exalting the vulnerable. The first person in Scripture to give God a name is Hagar. A woman. A single mother. An Egyptian. A Slave. And her words speak right to the heart of vulnerability as she says to Him, “I have seen the one who sees me.” God did not become human to pen a beguiling, seamless story. Divinity was born in a stable to model for us the beauty of authentic humanity—the beauty of humble, kind, inclusive, sacrificial vulnerability.
So show up. Be seen.
“A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” ~ Grace Hopper