“The intention and outcome of vulnerability is trust, intimacy and connection.” – Brene Brown
The holidays are a festive time and known as the season of giving, filled with busyness in preparation for Christmas Day. The malls are packed and the internet is jammed because so many people are searching for items to wrap and present as the perfect surprise to those they love. Some blame the year-end gift giving on commercialism and consumerism, causing people to spend more than they have to obtain what they don’t need. Others have a different outlook but choose not to indulge that way, providing only baked goods or handmade crafts – gifts from the heart – to encourage the ones they love.
But…what about the offering of time and what about the rest of the year? The commentary in the Voice translation of 2 Corinthians tells us, “Giving away money is one of the hardest things believers do, especially when there are bills to pay and more expenses than income. However, helping others with their physical needs and not only their spiritual needs is a fundamental principle of Christian spirituality. Perhaps it would be easier to give our financial resources if we could turn away from our own continual consumption and live simpler lifestyles. Then there would be not only the willingness but also the ability to share God’s blessings with others.” Verses 6-15 say, “6 But I will say this to encourage your generosity: the one who plants little harvests little, and the one who plants plenty harvests plenty. 7 Giving grows out of the heart—otherwise, you’ve reluctantly grumbled “yes” because you felt you had to or because you couldn’t say “no,” but this isn’t the way God wants it. For we know that ‘God loves a cheerful giver.’ 8 God is ready to overwhelm you with more blessings than you could ever imagine so that you’ll always be taken care of in every way and you’ll have more than enough to share. 9 Remember what is written about the One who trusts in the Lord: He scattered abroad; He gave freely to the poor; His righteousness endures throughout the ages. 10 The same One who has put seed into the hands of the sower and brought bread to fill our stomachs will provide and multiply the resources you invest and produce an abundant harvest from your righteous actions. 11 You will be made rich in everything so that your generosity will spill over in every direction. Through us your generosity is at work inspiring praise and thanksgiving to God. 12 For this mission will do more than bring food and water to fellow believers in need—it will overflow in a cascade of praises and thanksgivings for our God. 13 When this mission reaches Jerusalem and meets with the approval of God’s people there, they will give glory to God because your confession of the gospel of the Anointed One led to obedient action and your generous sharing with them and with all exhibited your sincere concern. 14 Because of the extraordinary grace of God at work in you, they will pray for you and long for you. 15 Praise God for this incredible, unbelievable, indescribable gift!”
Our requirement to be vulnerable and give of ourselves (time and talents) as well as our possessions brings to us far more than we lose by giving them away. By putting ourselves out there and exposing our genuine nature, we experience the joys and pains that are ignited or covered by His grace, giving us the power of clarity to see His love and forgiveness and the hope that lets us live to tell about it. But this reward is endowed upon us only when we take time to give time. By doing so, we relish in the flavors and scents of His love while unwittingly relinquishing the burden of being too busy.
What time do we have to keep except the measure of the moment in our hand? Does the inertia of our motion undermine our authenticity, clarity, grace or power? Busy – “If yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift and that’s why they call it the present” – how can we have so much to do that we can’t unwrap the wonder of time that is before us? The scents of softness from a sleeping baby – hug her and feel the peace that she brings. The look of love in the eyes of a five-year old with outstretched arms – embrace what he is offering. The fog of confusion that the teen tweets about – be the light that burns it off and guide him to the path on the other side. The delight in disorder in the life of the young woman next to you – meet her for tea to talk about it. The father who is missing the enthusiasm necessary to enjoy his children – encourage him with a story of your positive experience with The Father. The wisdom of the soul whose arthritic hands once held you – sit for a while and listen; then say thank you. From the simplicity of the cradle to the complexity of the grave, God’s greatest gifts are those who appear with us in this moment. How dare we take a pass for the four letter expletive we call busy? Let’s establish a connection with them: showing them our authenticity through our willingness to be vulnerable; our clarity through the eyes of His ways; His grace through the power of non-judgment or forgiveness; our power through the telling of our stories of weakness – which allows us to be vulnerable; which leads to the foot of the cross (his ways); which reminds us that He died for our forgiveness; which tells the story of the weakness in our ways – which teaches us the value of authenticity…and the double helix continues in perpetuity.
As we experience this wonderful time of the year together, make your gift-giving decisions as it has been laid upon your heart to do. Just remember, credit is not our sacrifice, merely a matter of pure secular indebtedness. There are however, 364 other days in the year, four natural seasons, and ten thousand ways and opportunities to give to others. Time is of the essence as our charity only exists while we are alive. For when we die, what we bequeath is no longer sacrificial. As we move throughout this season at a pace that makes time for each other, let’s ask ourselves this: What have we given of our time and talents today? What will we give of our finances before sundown? Will we stop and acknowledge the presence of the next human being we encounter? Will we take a moment to smile at him and encourage her? Will we sincerely share the dark spots in our walk as we shine beyond the shadows? Will we spend the currency of a split second to show the love given to us on that destined day at Calvary? Do we trust enough in our intimacy with Him to reach out and connect with another now? “The moment someone asks you to do something you don’t have the time or inclination to do is fraught with vulnerability.” – Brene Brown
In Give Me Words to Speak, Aaron Shust says: Calloused and bruised, dazed and confused; my Spirit is left wanting something more than my selfish hopes and my selfish dreams. I’m lying with my face down to the floor. I’m crying out for more. Give me words to speak. Don’t let my Spirit sleep ‘cause I can’t think of anything worth saying, but I know that I owe You my life. So give me words to speak. Don’t let my Spirit sleep. Every night, every day I find that I have nothing left to say. So I stand here in silence awaiting Your guidance. I’m wanting only Your voice to be heard. Let them be Your Words…that follow the gifts of our giving to one another for His glory. Be vulnerable! Be open!! Give the gift of your story!!! Be the love!!!! Say it with me: IN HIS MIGHTY NAME, Amen
Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow – that’s vulnerability. – Brene Brown