Writing and Vulnerability

Ivulnerability 1 was reminded by someone recently that writing makes us vulnerable. It’s one thing to ruminate in your head, quite another to share those words anonymously, and even more threatening to put your name on the page – so that all the world will know who you really are and what you really think. That realization stops many people from writing.

The comment brought me back to the recent shootings in the United States of young black men by white policeman.  Because racism is personal to me, I had a lot to say about those incidents. When I finally collected my thoughts enough to write a few posts (see the My Journey category on the home page of this blog), I suddenly found myself with cold feet. My community and my church struggle with racism; it is unveiled most particularly as “white privilege.” What if I upset regular readers of my blog? What if what I write is misinterpreted or shared in anger with others?  What if  sharing that I am in a bi-racial marriage provokes readers to react to future blogs with a negative bias?  What if???? Finally, I rose above the “what ifs” and published the posts.

Weeks later I wounded another person deeply.  I was distraught and anxious as well as disappointed in my self. At that time I was reading Louise De Salvo’s book Writing as Way of Healing; I understood that writing about the incident might ease my mind a bit. So I wrote. The result was raw and anguished yet thoughtful. Others must have been in this situation, I thought. Maybe they would appreciate reading about my experience.  Should I publish it on my blog?  I went back and forth for days and decided to publish it. (Only God can Mend a Heart in the Living as Apprentices category.) When I woke up the next day, I was mortified.  What had I done!! What would people think?

The heavy self-analysis that resulted from my publication of those two blogs was very instructive. I saw that I had resurrected three false narratives, embedded during my childhood, that I thought I had buried:  longing for approval, fear of abandonment, and keeping secrets. Here they were, strangling me again. The common thread in those narratives is the fear of vulnerability

Jesus is my model of how to live. Jesus was always completely vulnerable.  He prayed, he cried, he expressed his fear, he was angry, he grieved, he was disappointed – and he did all it out in the open, with his brothers, the disciples,  and in front of his “advulnerability 3oring public.”  He was misunderstood, under-appreciated, and derided, but his story never changed. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” he said.

As an apprentice of Jesus, my goal is to stay open in the same way. With that goal, writing becomes an act of faith. Even though I am exposed and defenseless, I can feel safe because the One who knows me best accepts me where I am and gives me grace to continue the journey. When I find and share my “voice” I am  free to live without fear.

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5 Responses to Writing and Vulnerability

  1. Dee Hubbard says:

    Karen, this is a very brave and courageous blog. You’ve touched on the shared vulnerabilities of our human condition which you described as your false narratives; which also happen to be three of mine plus many more. Your beautifully written blog encourages me to put my voice on paper and not be afraid of negative comment or worse yet for me, harsh argument. I’m intentionally spending time trying to learn how to be in the midst of argument, whether real or written, while remembering who I am in Christ and repeatedly putting on his characteristics of humility, peace, patience, harmony and love. It’s not all together yet…but its forming.

  2. Thanks for your kind words. I’m thrilled that you are braving the world by writing your voice. I hope you will share what you write.

  3. Karen, Thank you for your honest,heartfelt writing on the issue of racism and the way it has personally impacted you and your family. It is an issue that we in this country(and yes,even in Holland) have to face and try to change, and to do that we need to bring it into the open as you did. Not everyone will approve or agree with what you said,but your powerful words may open up some minds and change some hearts. Thank you for your courage!

  4. Bob Bakker says:

    Yes your point of the blog is wonderful, but your early point brought back to my mind that I do not yet know how to understand my white privileged.

  5. Good blog idea, Bob. I’ll work on it.

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