Tuesday, November 12, 2013

On Openness and Vulnerability

Sometimes, God allows something to come up and smack you in the face.  Such was the case this morning when, while browsing a friend's old blog posts, I stumbled across this little gem of a quote:

"I’m not as open as I appear you know. I’m as open as I think I have to be."

Ouch.  That stings.

Because I have spent years trying to "perfect" my openness.  I have broken down and analyzed brokenness, openness, and vulnerability to a point where they have basically just become an equation with differing variables based on the setting in which I find myself.  I know how open I need to be to maintain certain friendships. I know how vulnerable I have to be if I am going to balance socially awkward MK, overly zealous academic, and generally acceptable human being.  But why?

Because I have learned that people simply don't care.

I was listening to a radio broadcast the other day and heard a woman talking about subjects that should never be part of conversation (diet, sleeping habits, dreams, money, and a few others).  Her reasoning was that these subjects are boring.  No one really cares about these things.  And I had to admit to myself, despite the fact that I often incorporate these topics into conversation, that she was right.  These subjects really are boring.  If someone were to discuss these topics with me, I wouldn't care.

We live in a world that is driven by narcissism, populated by individuals, and overwhelmed with a sometimes unhealthy sense of self.  In an age of social media, we have become more isolated.  In a culture that shares everything with everyone, nobody really cares all that much about those who are part of their networks.  Social media has really just become a platform for individuals to propagate self for their own sake.  Our social interactions are no longer for the sake of others, they are for our own benefit.

Perhaps I am looking through an overly critical lens.  Perhaps I am not accounting for the few exceptions to this rule.  I hate generalizations, so I will admit that there are cases where these facts are not true.  However, from the perspective of one who has interacted with an incredible number of people over the last several years, I have observed this to be largely true, especially in the younger generation.  I can not blame young people for this mindset:  it is a product of the culture and age in which we live.

But this is not the community mindset that Scripture teaches us.  Scripture teaches us that we are a body.  Our successes should make the whole body rejoice, and our sufferings should cause the whole body to suffer.  Read 1 Corinthians 12.  That is the culture we are supposed to embrace, to embody.  So why, in a culture that is supposed to be driven by openness and sharing, of being partakers of the joys and sorrows of our brothers and sisters, would someone ever feel the need to say:

"I’m not as open as I appear you know. I’m as open as I think I have to be."

Because the reality is that we do not embody this culture.  We do not live this lifestyle.  When someone approaches us with brokenness or suffering, we are scared away.  We distance ourselves from them, and we make them feel inferior for their openness.  I know.  I've been there.  I have shared things with people, I have been open and vulnerable, and have been met with a silence that was pregnant with judgment.  Not judgment about me or my character, but judgment about my personality.  I could feel in that moment that I was labeled as "weird."  That vulnerability made people uncomfortable because it forced them to acknowledge someone other than themselves.  My existence was suddenly an uncomfortable reality for them, because in that moment, they were forced to share my reality.  And that's hard to do.

I can admit that I struggle with this as well.  It isn't always easy to allow someone to share personal aspects of their life with me, but yesterday as a friend from work confided in me some personal issues between him and his father and how those issues made him feel, I realized that it is my responsibility as a follower of Christ to share in those sufferings.  I am so far removed from that situation that I should never have to deal with it.  I'm not even friends with them on Facebook.  By all of today's standards, his problems shouldn't concern me.  But I have to allow myself to become part of his story, because that's what Jesus would do.

So, yes, I am guilty of limiting my openness with those around me.  I have shown people only what I think I am safe showing them.  But as I have learned in class this semester, "There is no relationship without truth-telling."  What that means is that, without openness and vulnerability, there is not really a relationship.  If we cannot share freely with each other, we are nothing more than a giant social network.  We write on each others walls and poke each other, and that is the extent of our relationship.  But if we could learn the skill of vulnerability, and that of accepting the vulnerability of others, we would birth true relationships.

I am as open as I think I have to be, as open as I think I can be.  I hold back.  But offer me a safe environment, and I will share.  I will be real and honest.  And I will offer you the same in return. 

"That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together."  (1 Corinthians 12:25-26, ESV)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

30 Days of Me- Day 3/Troisième Jour

Day 03- A picture of you and your friends

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather is one of those things that give value to survival."
- C. S. Lewis

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."
- Anais Nin

"True friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it be lost."
- Charles Caleb Colton

Top to bottom:

Moi et Caroleko
Moi et Zeyoung
Me and Stephy Faye
Me and my awesome scavenger hunt team at MK Retreat 2010
(including the epically cool Kandra Robertson!)
Group picture from MK Retreat 2008
Sortie des Jeunes a Paris
Journée avec les Bordeaulais

Friends from every continent, from every corner of the Earth! Thank you all for being part of my life! Love you all!

Merci a tous de faire partie de ma vie! Je vous aime!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

30 Days of Me- Day 2/ Deuxième Jour

Day 02- The meaning behind your Blog name

This shouldn't be too hard. My blog name is "jesuismdr." Broken up, it's "je suis MDR." MDR is the French equivalent of LOL, it stands for "mort de rire, or dead of laughter. "Je suis" means I am. So my blog name is I am dead of laughter. It's an expression of who I am. I love to laugh. My by-line is "Voted Most Likely to Die from Laughing." I really love to laugh. To laugh until tears fall, until my sides ache, until I can't breathe anymore. And my blog name is a reflection of that. So there you have it, the meaning behind my blog name. Que la force soit avec vous. Peace out.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

30 Days of Me- Day 1/ Premier Jour

Day 01- A recent picture of you and 15 interesting facts about yourself

1. I am an MK to France, and I absolutely LOVE my life here!
2. I become very emotionally attached to my clothes, to the point where I apologize to them if I don't pack them to go somewhere.
3. I am a fairly decent ice skater, if fairly decent can be defined as "doesn't fall down."
4. I love to travel! I have been to 44 different states and a total of 5 countries: United States, Canada, Mexico, France, and The Netherlands.
5. I secretly (or not so secretly anymore) wish I were left-handed.
6. I love anything and everything Disney.
7. I think it would be epically awesome to spend the night locked in Barnes and Noble.
8. I love Paris! My favorite place in the entire city is the Louvre.
9. I have extremely varied tastes in music, but I don't like rap or anything really heavy. Screaming is not permitted to take up space on my iPod either.
10. I am slightly fanatical about proper grammar and spelling.
11. I am slightly OCD when it comes to things being put away on shelves. The largest items belong to the far left, and size gradually decreases until the smallest things are on the far right. Anything that is numbered belongs in the proper order, and every book must be right-side up.
12. I could drink nothing but sweet tea for the rest of my life and I would be overjoyed.
13. I refuse to use a toothbrush that is not green or blue.
14. I am one of the few Americans who does not like baseball. It bores me. But I am one of the few Americans who can follow a soccer game, or the World Cup.
15. I know every word to the 2010 World Cup theme song, Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).

A recent photo (this one was taken this summer in the car on the way to Tours) and 15 interesting facts about myself. Day 1- check. Check back tomorrow for the meaning behind my blog name. Que la force soit avec vous. Peace out.


30 Days of Me

So I recently came across this project on a friend's blog and was intrigued and tempted by the idea of it, and by the challenge it poses. So I decided that I, too, would attempt this feat of posting 30 Days of Me. I've posted the list below of each day's blog, so if you are interested in joining in, or you're just curious as to what I'll post about, here it is. If you are intrigued by the idea of getting to know me better, check in to see the latest updates!


Day 01- A recent picture of you and 15 interesting facts about yourself

Day 02- The meaning behind your Blog name

Day 03- A picture of you and your friends

Day 04- A habit that you wish you didn’t have Day

05- A picture of somewhere you’ve been to Day

06- Favorite super hero and why

Day 07- A picture of someone/something that has the biggest impact on you

Day 08- Short term goals for this month and why

Day 09- Something you’re proud of in the past few days

Day 10- Songs you listen to when you are Happy, Sad, Bored, Hyped, Mad

Day 11- Another picture of you and your friends

Day 12- How you found out about Blogger and why you made one

Day 13- A letter to someone who has hurt you recently

Day 14- A picture of you and your family

Day 15- Put your iPod on shuffle: First 10 songs that play

Day 16- Another picture of yourself

Day 17- Someone you would want to switch lives with for one day and why

Day 18- Plans/dreams/goals you have

Day 19- Nicknames you have; why do you have them

Day 20- Someone you see yourself marrying/being with in the future

Day 21- A picture of something that makes you happy

Day 22- What makes you different from everyone else

Day 23- Something you crave for a lot

Day 24- A letter to your parents

Day 25- What I would find in your bag

Day 26- What you think about your friends

Day 27- Why are you doing this 30 day challenge

Day 28- A picture of you last year and now, how have you changed since then?

Day 29- In this past month, what have you learned

Day 30- Your favorite song

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Ode To Thee

We used to be so close,
Such great friends indeed.
Oft didst we commune together
In such sweet harmony.

You meant so much to me
More than I knew then
And now...I miss you terribly
My heart, it aches within.

So much separates us now
So many miles of ocean blue.
We are separated even by the hours
But, alas, naught can I do.

I must resign myself to this simple fate:
A life that's void of thee
Until the time when we can meet again
On the other side of that great sea.

But wait! What's that I heard?
We can commune once more?
Just the thought my heart doth stir
As I wait for thee by the door.

But as with all good things
A high price must be paid
But the pleasure that you will doubtless bring
Chases thoughts of that price far away.

I can see you now, we are so near
Almost touching you, my heart doth race
And as I hold you one single tear
Slides finds its way down my face.

My lips have touched thee now
After so many months apart.
I don't understand why, or how
You've found your way to my heart.

I know that your love is completely true
And this bond could not be severed
For you are the perfect, mysterious brew
I so fondly call Dr. Pepper.

Written for my 2,20€ (app. $3.00) can of Dr. Pepper from an American grocery store in Paris. It's a ridiculous price, but occasionally worth it. :)

Thursday, July 30, 2009