Any real connection involves vulnerability.
Whether in marriage or friendship—or even with a stranger—a relationship can progress only so far along the normal platitudes of strength and accomplishment. It is only when we have exhausted our tales of trophy winning, when we let down our guards and speak to the truths about our travels, that we find that where we really connect as humans is in the places we have found we walk with a limp.
Even in our work. We all want to attend the conference and hear the one in our same field of labor who built a successful and thriving business. But if in the telling of that genesis tale there is no struggle, hardship, doubt, failing and trying again, then we won’t believe it.
Because to attempt to create anything in this world is to take a risk. All creating is an expression of vulnerability.
Even in our biology. We are a culmination of wondrous systems, organs and cellular mysteries that still confound us to this day. When all of these parts work together, it is a delight to behold and a pleasure to exist in. But when they go awry, it is the fearful nightmares that prevent hypochondriacs from enjoying a good night’s sleep or the experience of chronic pain that endlessly grates within our days.
We are wonderfully and fearfully put together, and it is only recently through modern science and photography that we have even been able to witness that process.
The ancient psalmist alludes to an interior process of knitting—a delicate intertwining of individual strands over and over again until eventually an elaborate and beautiful tapestry comes to fruition. We now, as twenty-first-century human beings, have been able to bear witness to this in-utero knitting through published photographs and modeled displays at our local science museums. But throughout the history of humanity, that knitting process remained an interior secret.
This interior secret is a vulnerable relationship between two individuals. The forming child trusts the mother to provide all it needs—nourishment, rest, energy, protection—so it can be knit together to its wondrous completion. The mother offers herself to the forming child, trusting it will take what it needs to mature into completion while refraining from harming, hurting, depleting her own delicate body of what it needs to survive. Both parties grow together, connected at their vulnerabilities. Both parties take the risk of creating something new together.
If you don’t know anyone who has had a miscarriage, just wait. You will. And if you don’t know of at least one person who has lost their life trying to bring another life into this world, just wait. You will. The risks are all too painfully real.
What does it say about a God . . .
who’s willing to be this vulnerable with us?
who’s willing to come into this world through the statistical risk of childbearing?
who’s willing to be attached by a placenta for nourishment and life to Its own creation?
who’s willing to wait and grow in the human womb?
who’s willing to be fearfully and wonderfully made, just like we are?
Any real connection involves vulnerability because it takes the act of making oneself open to truly be known. God came to us floating in embryonic fluid. Slowly forming and taking shape. Embedded in the uterine wall of a Middle Eastern teenage woman It trusted to care for Its fragile knitting process.
What it says about a God who’s willing to be this vulnerable is that God is willing to open Itself up to deeply connect with us. The real question is, are we willing to do the same?
May you experience grace embedded in your own hidden vulnerabilities . . . and may you let that symbiotic mystery fuel your Advent wonder.