~ Antoine du Saint Exupery, from The Little Prince
As a Christian woman and leader--one who is expected to be honorable, devoted, and nurturing--I've been concerned about how I understand and execute my commitment to the people that God has entrusted to me.
I say this because severely wounded and broken people are often entrusted to us by the Father, but we tend to have a notion that every step those folks take toward healing--the steps that come under our care and support, that is--should never have any backward motion. We cry failure, theirs and/or ours and/or God's--someone's--if healing comes to a halt, or never progresses very far.
We often harbor benchmarks of healing that we believe people who have suffered enormous wounds and betrayals should meet once they receive some care and comfort. The trouble is, for people who have been repeatedly violated and betrayed, whether due to their own wrong-doing, the wrong-doing of others, or both--these benchmarks of healing are not necessarily linear and fixed.
There's A LOT of UN-learning the evils to do while going about the courageous, terrifying, soul-ripping processes of RE-learning the holy. It is truly a lifetime of hard labor because it is not a single process, but many layers of processes that can be very thorny and knotted up together.
As Christians, when we commit ourselves to the care and nurture of others--which is a BIG part of the discipleship and love we are commanded to engage in--we need to follow through and not grow weary. To do otherwise is to frustrate and potentially derail the part of the healing process that was entrusted to us in the first place.
That is why I am such an outspoken advocate of transparent, whole-hearted living for everyone...but particularly among pastors and church leaders. If we are so focused on the outward appearances and timetables and benchmarks of healing among those we disciple, we will soon weary of our calling and leave a trail of people who are more wounded and betrayed and hopeless and shamed than when they started.
I watch regularly as pastors and church leaders spend so much time playing "fruit inspectors" that they become very haphazard, casual pruners of would-be fruit-bearing trees that are poised to bear MUCH sweet, juicy, nutritious fruit for others...disciples making disciples. Instead, these pastors pass off to other churches the folks they determine to be too broken and slow. They forget to be gift seekers and encouragers. They become abusers and perpetrators of shame and guilt...and the cycle repeats itself.
What would happen if every church and ministry applied the concepts of whole-hearted living promoted by Brené Brown in this TED talk.
I can tell you that I've had Christians ignore "The Power of Vulnerability" for whichBrené argues so beautifully because she says the word, "shit" in the course of her talk. But to ignore what Brené says about connection and vulnerability is to ignore the problem of shame that keeps people from being connected to one another--the very soul of discipleship, ministry, and pastoral care.
What the heck???