Wk 3 – Series – Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.
It’s from the bible, but it’s inspired by this book ‘Emotionally Healthy Spirituality’.
“It is not possible for a Christian to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.”
Yardwork can be a lot of work. But you know it’s even more work? Let letting your yard become completely overgrown. What I think that’s really a lot of people’s interior lives. Where they have absolutely no idea what’s going on in there. You being emotionally healthy isn’t just a gift to yourself, it’s a gift to the people around you.
The book says this:
“Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to our true self and give it the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”
My wife is just recovering from being quite sick this past weekend. And you all know what it’s like to be so sick that even the thought of getting up to take out the trash or do laundry is a horrible thought. So let’s say you see someone who is super sick, so they’re just in bed. Would you go up to them and say “You’ve not even helping around the house? Talk about selfish!!” – No of course not. Self-care is not a selfish act.
Our spiritual health with Jesus is directly linked to our emotional health with each other. Last week, I encouraged you to look beneath the surface, to take some time in seeing what’s going on inside you, and thinking about the things you do, but more importantly, WHY you do the things you do.
Well this week, we’re changing gears a little and instead of talking about this internal thing of looking inward, we’re talking about a this outward thing, which is vulnerability.
And I love this topic. I’m not good at lots of things. This isn’t one of them. I feel supremely confident to talk about this. If you’ve ever thought “I wonder how David would sound if he had about 5000 times more confidence. Well tonights your night.
Vulnerability : the state of being exposed to the possibility of being harmed.
So you might be thinking: “Whoa! Definitely don’t want that!!!”
Brene Brown in her book on vulnerability shares her struggle:
For me, vulnerability led to anxiety, which led to shame, which led to disconnection, which led to Bud Light.
For lots of people, the idea of sharing something with someone else that makes you look weak, is an absolutely horrid thought.
Without vulnerability, there’s no meaningful relationship.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it (heart) to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements (Remember – Eastern Philosophy). Lock it (heart) up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” (C.S. Lewis)
And I think there’s a lot of people who go through life feeling very alone. Every though they have friends, and family, and co-workers that all love them, they go through life with this sense of not being understood and not being deeply connected with other people. Reason is that they’re afraid of looking broken, or weak, or insecure, or angry, or afraid. In other words, they’re afraid of experiencing shame. This sense of being laid bare, exposed.
And since they don’t want people to see the more ‘unsightly’ parts of them, they keep themselves hidden. And they don’t realize that their tendency to hide their true self is the exact thing that stops them from meaningfully connecting with other people.
When I was a kid I didn’t realize that people can be married and still lonely.
You can live your life in community and still feel like you’re not truly known.
And I would say that most people “know” that they’re supposed to be open and honest with people, if they aren’t then they aren’t going to have meaningful relationships, etc. But the problem is that we know it, but we don’t do it.
What – mean – live in vulnerability? Honest?
What would it feel like for you to be freed from the pressure of always having to be strong and confident and never weak?
I’d like to talk to you about a guy who knew a thing or two about looking weak.
Paul is this amazing monster of the faith. He is probably the most prolific spiritual teacher in the history of the world, outside of Jesus. But what’s surprising, is that when you see Paul in 1st corinthians, and especially 2nd corinthians, at an incredibly vulnerable place. But you can also see, that in my opinion, he’s a little bit insecure.
I would take a bullet for Paul. I love him SO much, and these scriptures right here, so exactly why.
Most epic rant.
There’s a lot of text to read tonight, but it’s just so gosh darn good. I think this is probably the most epic rant in the history of the world. Writing to Corinth – where he’s planted this small church
2 Corinthians 11:16-12:10
I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. (2 Corinthians 11:16)
Paul here says “Watch out, because I’m about to brag a little bit.
In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. (2 Corinthians 11:17)
Here’s paul is saying “Hey for these next few minutes, I’m not talking on behalf of God. This is ALL ME, baby!”
Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. (2 Corinthians 11:18)
You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! (2 Corinthians 11:19)
People would come hear Paul, they’ve read what he’s written. In person – not all that impressive. Nobody knows for sure – people who say Paul was short, small, bald, squeaky voice. You’d never leave his meeting saying he’s the greatest speaker I’ve ever heard. “So called Super Apostles” – word on the street – Do better miracles, better speakers, EVEN better looking than Paul.
There’s a time in the letter where he’s in a way promoting his accomplishments. Here’s why I’m better than these new guys. But he’s really funny with it. Tongue in cheek.
Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. (2 Corinthians 11:22)
Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. (2 Corinthians 11:23)
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. (2 Corinthians 11:24)
Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, (2 Corinthians 11:25)
I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. (2 Corinthians 11:26)
I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. (2 Corinthians 11:27)
Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:28)
Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? (2 Corinthians 11:29)
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. (2 Corinthians 11:30)
The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. (2 Corinthians 11:31)
In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. (2 Corinthians 11:32)
But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands. (2 Corinthians 11:33)
- “They’re a hebrews? So am I.”
- “They’re a jew? So am I.”
- “Are they ministers of Jesus Christ? So am I.”
- “I’ve gotten beat up more than anyone.”
- “I’ve got more stripes than anybody.”
- “Pelted been pelted with stones.”
- “I’ve got more stripes than anyone.”
- “I’ve crashed my boat 3 times!!!”
Climax “The emperor was after me one time, and so my friends lower me out the window and I escaped.” “I bravely ran away.”
I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. (2 Corinthians 12:1)
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. (2 Corinthians 12:2)
And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— (2 Corinthians 12:3)
was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. (2 Corinthians 12:4)
So evidently Paul has a friend who had this incredible spiritual encounter. Saw things that no one else was allowed to see
I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. (2 Corinthians 12:5)
Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. (I love this. Paul “I’m not gonna brag. Although if I did brag I would be telling the truth. What a line.) But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, (2 Corinthians 12:6)
or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. (2 Corinthians 12:7)
We don’t know what the thorn in the flesh is. LOTS of theories. Some people think it’s a temptation, some people think it’s a physical issue, other people think he’s talking about a person, think HECKLER that follows him around. That’s not the point right now.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. (2 Corinthians 12:8)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)
He’s being funny, but he’s also being brilliant. He’s making a contrast – He’s bragging about his brokenness. Contrast that with the “Super apostles” who are never weak, never broken.
Picture a guy that at this point in his life has written a great deal of the NT testament – he’s saying that he’s perplexed, broken, feel abandoned. Isn’t it amazing: Paul goes and writes the book of Romans and everyone is amazed! But sometimes Paul goes home and he’s perplexed and frustrated and weak and insecure. Paul goes and seeing people by the thousands coming to Christ b/c of his ministry and then goes home and he has his own issues that he has no idea how to fix.
Beautiful idea, but also a little scary, because there’s a lot of us who want to see Paul nearing the end of his ministry as bold, confident, zero insecurity,
Crazy – If you ever read Paul’s letters in chronological order – the longer he lives, the more humble he gets. It seems like the further he goes in following Jesus, he becomes more and more aware that it’s not about him, and how awesome he is. He becomes more aware of his frailty, and brokenness.
A lot of us don’t like that b/c we want to become someone that has so little brokenness, that when people look at me, they say ‘Holy Moly! Look at that shining star’.
That was pretty much my understanding of this whole thing when I get out of bible college. All the bad, brokenness, pain, shame – that’s all the ‘BC’ stuff, and once you’ve been on the journey, nothing but blue skies.
Maybe let’s call that place ‘There’. I want you to imagine a life where there is No fear, no pain, your kids are perfect, your marriage is perfect, everything loves and respects you, you have all the money you could ever need. Now I want you to slap yourself. On this side of the heaven, that is never going to happen.
In a lot of ways, I think the opposite is true. As you follow God and let him expose those deep dark parts of you, you’ll become ever more aware of our own weakness. And what’s crazy, is that as we become more aware of that, the more powerfully God is able to use us.
Sooner or later, we’re all confronted with our own inadequacy. All our running and racing and striving. – We’re still angry, ashamed, and afraid.
The truth – Nobody’s all good / bad.
The truth – Nobody’s all good and nobody’s all bad. Nobody’s happy all the time, never insecure, never afraid, never ashamed, those are fake people.
I was reading an article the other day that talked about how TV has changed over the last couple decades. Where before, the bad guys were all the way bad, and the good guys were all the way good. – Think SUPERMAN. Think John Wayne. But recently as TV has gotten more realistic, almost all characters are a combination of good and bad. Even the heroes.
- Walter White
- Dexter Morgan
- Don Draper
- Francis Underwood
- Tyrion Lannister
And you gotta admit, that’s closer to the truth. So I think we should all be able to just straight-up admit that there’s things on the inside of us that aren’t always pretty, and neat, and orderly.
There’s chaos in the world and there’s chaos in the human heart. There just is.
When – young – ‘human’ – all bad.
When I was a young Christian I used to think that the ‘human’ side of me was all bad. Christians would use the word ‘Flesh’. It’s just the icky human part of you. Gross!!! But then there’s the ‘spirit’ side of you that’s perfect and never weak, and never afraid, and never insecure, and that’s the rest you. And listen, that could be in a theological sense, I guess.
But I’ve learned that Christians that don’t know themselves are sad people. Embrace the fact that God created you as a beautiful and complex and sensitive, and strange human being. And no matter how much we want to fight it, there’s anger, and shame and fear in all of us. And it’s important for you to be able to admit that. And to come to terms with that. B/C if you DON’T come to terms with your own brokenness, you tend to deal with it in really unhealthy ways.
3 Unhealthy ways – deal w/ Brokenness.
1. Flee We avoid the unsightly parts of our life by distracting ourselves.
Masking / Numbing pain.
Albuquerque is great at this.
- “Life is painful, drink more beer.”
- Eat more
- More successful
But just running from your own brokenness. Instead of facing our brokenness, we distract and numb ourselves with an endless supply of things, places, or people.
w/ their phones. We talked about it last week, but I think a lot of people do this with their phones. They just check their phones every 15 seconds b/c it distracts them from the fact that maybe they’re really lonely. Or scared. Or mad. Or insecure.
I can think of times in my own life where I’m really struggling internally with something, I just get really busy. I fill my life with busywork and friends, and video games. But ultimately it’s just running.
You can see this when someone loses a loved one and they just start obsessively cleaning the house, because they don’t want to sit with their pain.
2. Fight We avoid the brokenness in our life by fighting.
Fighting against people, or situations, or cultures.
- We become bitter and angry because life hasn’t been fair.
- We pick a specific gender or race or issue to get all worked up over, taking all our anger and hurt out there.
The belief: The world would be better if people were more like me.
- This is the indignant Facebook poster, writing about social issues they’ve never faced.
- This is those of us who spend all our energy fighting against misguided politicians. Or doctrinally imperfect Christians.
- This is the old man yelling at the TV.
- This is the young man yelling at his wife.
- This is the woman verbally destroying people behind their backs.
“If only this person or these people would be better than I wouldn’t be so broken.” In every case, completely unaware of your own brokenness and imperfection. The real comedy: We THINK our ‘fight’ instinct is ‘righteous indignation’ but really the anger stems from our brokenness rather than our love for anyone.
3. Hide We avoid the brokenness in our lives by hiding them in the deep closets of our hearts.
We think we can simply cover up the unsightly things in ourself and we actually believe that they won’t come bubbling back up to the surface. But of course they do. What we do is we end up ‘curating’ our lives. Like an art museum, we put the best part of our lives on display, only showing the parts that we find most acceptable.
Social Media By the way, this is the idea of all social media. That’s one of the reasons I struggle with it, b/c I know it’s not real. The “fake you” talking to the “fake me” and it does nothing. I’m still surprised that people would rather have 1000 fake friends instead of 5 real ones. But the reason we like that better is because it saves us from having to be open, and honest, and real. You can be an Instagram big shot and have 0 need for vulnerability.
Many of us create fake personas and we live through this perfect fake person all day and then we go home and complain that people don’t know the real me. But we never give people the chance.
Hard candy shell Some of us walk around with a hard candy shell on thinking that we’re protecting ourselves, and it’s true to a certain extent, but the cost is just way too high. – There’s no meaningful relationship without vulnerability.
“If you won’t hear the bad news about yourself, you can’t know yourself. You condemn yourself to the maintenance of an exhausting illusion, a false front to your self which keeps out doubt and with it hope, change, nourishment, breath, life. If you won’t hear the bad news, you can’t begin to hear the good news about yourself either. And you’ll do harm.” (Francis Spufford)
From the Book:
When we keep our brokenness inside, it turns us into worse versions of ourselves.
David – Psalm 32:
“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. (Psalm 32:3)
For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. (Psalm 32:4)
Benefits of vulnerability
1. When you’re vulnerable with the people around you, you give them the opportunity to love the real you.
There’s 1000 things in this series that I’m terrible at, but I have to tell you, being vulnerable is actually something I CAN do. And if there’s anything that attracts people to me, it’s this. It’s that I’m not ashamed to share my strengths, and I’m not ashamed to show my weakness. Because I’m not trying to convince you of anything. I’m not trying to convince you that I’m the yoda who comes down the mountain with the wisdom. Wow that’s really mixing metaphors. But I catch people off guard sometimes because I’m more honest about my own struggles than they’re expecting me to be. But I’ve been amazed at how when I’ve been more open with people, how close we can become. And it all starts with giving them the opportunity to love the real me, not some made-up version.
“Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.” (Brene Brown)
2. When you’re vulnerable with the people around you, you give God the opportunity to use your story to help others.
“Jars of Clay” When I was young, I loved the band “Jars of Clay”. Anybody remember them? Well back in the day I had no idea where that name came from.
2 Corinthians 4:1,5,7,10
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. (2 Corinthians 4:1)
For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. (2 Corinthians 4:5)
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; (2 Corinthians 4:8)
persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:9)
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:10)
So he’s talking about the light that shines from the life of the follow of Christ. But notice HOW he says this light shines.
The light of Christ is revealed through clay jars. God’s glory is being shown through frail, fragile people, who are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down. But not abandoned by God.
This is how God has chosen to show his light to the world. Through fragile, frail vessels.
In corinth – known for making these cheap jars – (lamps) – clay. People would walk around in the dark, holding these lamps. You’d put a candle in them. These lamps were tiny, and cheap, and fragile – reason for that.
The thinner the lamp – the better the light can get out.
If the lamp is cheap and cracked, more light could get out. More light, less lamp. Nothing great about the lamp. Paul is comparing himself to the thin, fragile lamp. We are the cheap lamps. Cracked vessels.
These lamps that are so underwhelming that if you see any light coming out of it, you’re not confused about it being because the lamp is so awesome. The only thing that is impressive is the light.
Other heroes of the faith
Comforting and disturbing at the same time: So often these people who are greatly used by God are profoundly broken.
- C.S. Lewis
- Martin Luther King Jr
- John Calvin
- Charles Spurgeon – Depression
Minister and Theologian – He’s the father of the wesleyan church and the mothodist church.
QUOTE (Near end of life)
I do not feel the wrath of God abiding on me; nor can I believe it does. I do not love God. I never did. Therefore I never believed, in the Christian sense of the word. Therefore I am only an honest heathen…
If I ever have had that faith, it would not be so strange. But I never had any other evidence of the eternal or invisible world than I have now; and that is none at all, unless such as faintly shines from reason’s glimmering ray. I have no direct witness of anything invisible or eternal.”
“And yet I dare not preach otherwise. And yet I find rather an increase than a decrease of zeal for the whole work of God and every part of it. I want all the world to come to know what I do not know.”
We can spend so much – lives – guarded
We can spend so much of our lives guarded from others.
Sarcasm You just always make wise cracks at everything. It comes off super strong and confident. No chance of anyone seeing your weakness. But it stops real connection. Helping you. Helping others.
Still think – need have it all together.
For so many of us, we think we have to have it together. What’s crazy: you think that’s what you have to do in order for God to use you, the opposite is true. This need to hide and cover is the thing that STOPs God from using you.
On the other hand, when we’re vulnerable, connection can happen. We can be with other people in a way that is open and honest and messy, and as weird as it sounds that invites God in to come and do something beautiful.
Begin w/ Honesty
So where does begin? It begins with honesty.
And that’s why I am the way that I am when it comes to being a pastor. That when it comes to someone being imperfect and still growing, I raise my hand and say ‘Me most of us all!’. And the hope is that it creates a safe place for you to not be imperfect, and growing.
One of our jobs as a Christian community is to create a safe place for people to come out of hiding. A place that’s ruled by grace where anyone can be honest.
1. Get honest with God.
Tell him how you feel in every situation.
- Tell him about your anger. Why are you angry?
- Tell him about your fear.
- Tell him about your hopes.
2. Get honest with someone else.
It matters where and with whom you get vulnerable.
How many – tried – be honest w/ someone :
How many of you have had the experience of really trying to honest with someone and you’ve had one of two experiences:
- They’re shocked and disgusted
- They don’t care.
Do you have someone in your life that you’re totally and completely honest with? Are you truly known by someone else?
Humility & Self-Worth. One thing that’s amazing about the cross is that it gives you two things that almost seem to be in contradiction: Humility and Self-Worth. On one hand, the cross reminds you of how broken and imperfect and flawed and insecure and petty and divisive you can be. Completely loved. And so you don’t have to hide.