Similar to last week, I really don’t have much of a writing update this week. I’m still editing the manuscript, still making progress, and actually getting a little more done each day than I had originally planned, so I may even finish earlier than expected . . . I’ll keep you posted.
With that I’m just going to jump right into The ABCs of a Purposeful WIP. Today’s subject is a bit of a touchy one. We’re talking about vulnerability. I say it’s touchy because vulnerability is often seen as a weakness. And for good reason. A quick glance at a thesaurus will show you its synonyms are: open (to attack), defenseless, assailable, and susceptible. Who wants to be identified as any of those things? But I’m here to tell you that as purposeful works-in-progress, vulnerability is incredibly valuable.
Although it is in our nature to flaunt our strengths and gloss over our weaknesses, in one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians in the Bible, he talks about how he actually boasts only about his weaknesses. In this same passage Paul goes on to mention a thorn in his side that he was given to prevent him from becoming prideful. He prays for it to be taken away, but God only says, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”*
And don’t we all have those weaknesses, those thorns in our sides? Those relentless reminders of our humanness that we contend with over and over again. A lack of patience, a short fuse, a habit of procrastination, the inability to see things through. All of these things can prevent us from making progress, from reaching goals, from growing into self-awareness, but they’re also given to us for a reason.
Like Paul’s, the thorns in our own sides serve a purpose. Our not-so-desirable qualities exist both so we don’t become overly arrogant, believing we can get through life on our own merit and without reliance on God, and also so we can help each other. When shared, openly and honestly, our vulnerabilities make us real and raw and approachable. Eleanor Roosevelt says we should learn from the mistakes of others because we can’t live long enough to make them all ourselves. True as this may be, it isn’t possible if we only ever show the filtered, edited, rosy-colored versions of ourselves and our lives. All those images do is add to our vulnerabilities and incite feelings of inferiority.
So we must be brave enough to defy what has become the cultural norm. We must rip off our masks, boldly revealing that underneath we are indeed human beings, complete with the weaknesses and flaws and tendencies that make us who we are. I’ll tell you from experience it’s not easy. These blog posts I’ve been writing these last many months may seem like nothing to some of you, but they’re actually a challenge for me. Every single one of the topics I’ve discussed is something I’ve struggled with at some point and opening up about them has been really difficult. It’s hard for me to sit here and let my vulnerabilities show—like the fear that my words don’t matter.
But despite my inclination to hole up and hide from the world, I felt moved to do it. I thought if talking honestly about my meandering novel-writing, self-growth journey encouraged even one other person to dare to do that thing she’s always wanted to do, then the insecurity that picks at me when I sit down each week to record these words will be well worth it. The thing about this method of outreach, though, is that I don’t always know whether my messages are reaching anybody. I don’t know whether anyone reads them. But I do know that the simple act of showing up, of showing that the pathway to progress is often, if not always, a bumpy one, has helped me in ways immeasurable.
So thank you for tuning in today. Whoever and wherever you are, I hope this message emboldens you. I hope you are encouraged to not only take a leap toward your own goal, but to share the vulnerable truth of your journey with others. Like Paul says at the end of that Bible passage: For when I am weak, then I am strong.* And I will amend that to say for when we are weak, then we are strong. Together.
*Bible passage is from 2 Corinthians 12:5-10 NLT