Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Shame and Vulnerability

It's the moment when you think, "I'm not good enough," that it's got you.

I went to the interview with my resume clutched in my hand. I'd forgotten to send it, so brought it myself. I'd not thought much about it's inadequacy. Not until he said in passing - "This is your abbreviated CV?"

The smart-mouth me thought, "No, that's all of it. Entirely." But I didn't think that till much later. Don't the best answers arrive much too late to use? Between the offhand query and the answer were a few hours of shame.

Don't get me wrong, I still drove home, cooked dinner, chatted with my mum, laughed with the kids and kissed everyone good night. My husband, too. But there were moments peppered through the evening of shielding my face with the pressure of my hands, feeling exposed, and calling myself an idiot under my breath. I remembered every clumsy answer, replayed unbidden.

Shame re-imagined is vulnerability.

The interview was important to me. Being seen as competent mattered in that place, with people I do not know. Making myself available for judgement exposes me. And this judgement is always harsher in my imagination than anything that happens in the actual moment. No one could ever measure me as harshly as I do myself when I say "I'm not good enough".

At it's heart, shame is a fear of rejection and disconnection, and when things matter to us, when we expose our heart and our true selves, we are vulnerable to it. But Brene Brown would say, that if we avoid shame, we avoid wholehearted living.

You may have already seen this talk. But if not, listen here. It has some really useful things to say about how perfectionism and controlling our lives can be a way to avoid vulnerability, and hence miss out on real connection with people.

Listen, too, to her comment that we make the uncertain certain to avoid vulnerability. I would like to think about this more in relation to the truths of the gospel, and the way we try to make some areas certain that are actually uncertain - perhaps this is because we feel vulnerable - questions can make us doubt the ability of God to stand up amidst uncertainty.

I also ponder the idea of believing that we are worthy of love and belonging, believing we are enough. On it's own, this lacks a degree of substance - I cannot quite grasp it. But in the light of God's love, it falls into place. His love and grace to us mark us as worthy of love and belonging. I am enough because I rest in God who is enough.

Watch her second talk, too, if you have time...

It's paradoxical, isn't it? - that by protecting ourselves from shame or vulnerability, we actually limit our opportunities to really love, to really serve and to really experience God's work in our lives.

1 comment:

Brother Ollie said...

You're right, an oft overlooked truth.