Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 105

Wisdom and Vulnerability

Memories fill my head and heart as I look across my room and smile, as we enjoy the pleasure of the company of a dear friend. It’s a friendship built over many years of fighting battles together, talking about everything, praying much, sharing joys and laughter, and sharing sorrows and tears. This friend knows pretty much everything about each of us, as do we know him. I reminisce about other dear friends who visited today. Friends who are deeply embedded in our lives. Our kids grew up together and remain steadfast friends, as do we. What a privilege to be deeply involved in one anothers’ lives.

As I attempt to gather my thoughts for a blog, I am struck by the wisdom which comes from vulnerability in relationships. Jesus called his disciples his friends because he held nothing back from them (John 15:15).  God has always intended us to grow through relationships. We cannot practice our relationship with God without true relationships with others. The very nature of God is relational, as revealed by the unity of the three-in-one Father, Son, and Spirit.

Gordon helped both Wyndham and me learn vulnerability about 30 years ago when he and Theresa became our dear friends. Wyndham learned quickly, while I didn’t even understand what vulnerability looked like. You see, I had tried so hard to “do the right thing” throughout my life that I didn’t even know what I felt. What did feelings have to do with anything, anyway? I thought to focus on or express my feelings would be selfish. Also, I didn’t want to mess up, as I didn’t feel that was okay. This way of thinking made me unrelatable, always trying to measure up to earn my worth from God or others. While doing the right thing is a good thing, it’s incomplete and can become the wrong thing when vulnerability is absent. God wants our hearts, no matter how messy. He desires mercy over sacrifice. We can only learn this in the context of relationships.

As I prayed to understand what it meant to be vulnerable, I realized there were specific times in my life when I actually had shared my thoughts and feelings…and it did not go well. I vividly remember as a preteen telling my dad, when I was asked to clean my plate, that the inside gooey part of the tomatoes (that part was left on my plate) made me feel sick to eat. I was very strongly punished for “talking back.” I decided from that day on I would never “talk back,” and that it would be better to gag over the gooey inside of tomatoes or anything else and “stuff” whatever I felt rather than be honest and face consequences. (Everyone has bad days, even wonderful, godly parents.) As an adult, a few significant times when I was honest also did not turn out well, coming back down on my head with a bang. Though these may be small things, they were enough to cause me to zip my heart and my lips. While some people would “fight,” I would shut down. This was not good.

Gordon (and Theresa) were deeply vulnerable in our friendship with them. He showed me how to be vulnerable by doing so. Wyndham made it safe for me to be vulnerable, and God kept putting me in situations where I could either speak up and “swim” or “be silent” and drown. The progress did not come easily. Vulnerability, to me, was like learning a foreign language. I often felt I would rather go throw up than say what I felt, especially if I perceived a person as an authority figure. Often, I had stuffed feelings so deeply I would only come to know what I felt when I prayed, pouring out my heart to God. If I felt something with Wyndham I would often not know how to express what it was, but as soon as we would pray together it would come gushing out, accompanied with tears. I believe this came easiest in prayer because of finally trusting that God wants to know me—in all my ugliness, fears, and uncertainty. I would also tell everyone I talked to that I was trying to learn to be vulnerable, and after conversations asked them how I was doing. I begged God to make this weakness a strength–to be honest and courageous and not leave “elephants in the living room,” but speak the truth in love.

So, as I reflect on these friendships, important relationships in my community, I am ever so grateful for the depth and freedom that comes from vulnerability. I am grateful  Gordon demonstrated this Christ-like quality, and that God helped me learn this foreign language. I am deeply thankful for Wyndham’s wisdom, encouragement, example, and providing me a safe place to be completely vulnerable. I am grateful he has always encouraged me to practice honesty and vulnerability all my relationships. It has made a huge difference in my spiritual growth. I am inspired by his vulnerability, as truly everything in his life now requires intense vulnerability. He has trained for this for years, through the security he knows in God.

It is never to late to learn the language of vulnerability or even to take refresher courses. However, we must be truly engaged in a spiritual community to grow in this area. Wisdom learns vulnerability.

9  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
10  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)




The Monitor Told the Truth

I felt as though I was walking into a time warp as I entered the doctor’s office.  The furniture, pictures, phone and lamps were all from the 1950’s.  At any given moment I expected Opie and “Aunt Bea” to walk into the room with Sherriff Andy Taylor.  The bathroom was tiled in pink, and behind the receptionist section of the office was a rolodex and stacks of manila file folders.  There was one very old computer.   When I handed the receptionist my credit card for my co-payment  I was informed that they didn’t accept credit cards – only cash or check.  I got nervous and almost walked away.  How could I entrust my heart to a doctor who worked in an antiquated office?  Yet, there I was.  I had received an urgent call from this cardiologist asking me to come to his office.  My monitor (see earlier post) had recorded an “event” that happened over the weekend.  I was well aware of the event, as the palpitations were extreme.The doctor was concerned with the report and called me in.

The conversation with “Dr. Sensitivity” went like this.

“I got a report from the monitoring center on your heart and you’ve got problems.”

I replied, “What kind of problems?”

To which he replied something like, “The kind that kill you. You should see these reports.”

That got my attention.  Fortunately, he quickly followed with reassurance that my “problem” was completely fixable, and that he would get me in for the needed procedure right away.  So, tomorrow I go to the hospital for a catheter ablation for supra-ventricular tachycardia. Yesterday I had no idea what these terms meant.   Now, I realize I will undergo the first thing mentioned today, and that I “have” the second thing.  And fortunately (though I think this cardiologist is a fine doctor), a specialist will do the procedure at a hospital.  I can walk out of the 1950’s and into some pretty amazing technology.

I thought about a scripture that has stood out to me for many years.   Jeremiah 17:5-10 (emphasis added)

This is what the Lord says:

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,

who depends on flesh for his strength

and whose heart turns away from the Lord.

[6] He will be like a bush in the wastelands;

he will not see prosperity when it comes.

He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,

in a salt land where no one lives.

[7] “But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,

whose confidence is in him.

[8] He will be like a tree planted by the water

that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

and never fails to bear fruit.”

    [9] The heart is deceitful above all things

        and beyond cure.

        Who can understand it?


    [10] “I the Lord search the heart

        and examine the mind,

to reward a man according to his conduct,

according to what his deeds deserve.”

I’d been walking around with a heart problem and had no idea.  My heart sure fooled me.  The facts that displayed a picture of my racing heart (compared to the normal baseline of what it was supposed to be)  left no doubt.  There was indeed a problem.

Likewise, our hearts can deceive us into thinking we are just fine spiritually – even when we are not.  When we compare what is in our heart  (as demonstrated by the way we live and talk) to the truth as seen in God’s Word  we may discover  that we have a problem – one that can spiritually kill us.

I think I would be quite foolish to refuse to undergo the procedure that will fix my physical heart.  Yet, several things are required from me:  First, I needed to understand that there is a problem . Second, I must gain the knowledge of how to get the problem fixed. Third, I must schedule the procedure where the “fixing” can take place.

In order to undergo the procedure I must offer my complete willingness and surrender to the process. For the procedure to be successful there must be a competent doctor present, and I will need to “show up” in the procedure room where the process takes place.  All of these things are needed.  To leave out any one of them will cause the procedure to be unsuccessful and my heart will continue to have a problem.

This experience reminds me of my conversion – the point in time when I had my “spiritual heart” fixed (forgiven).

I came to understand that I had a spiritual problem and then learned from the Bible what God said to do about it.  I was willing and surrendered to let God operate –  and the Great Physician was more than capable of fixing my heart.  In the procedure room of baptism this amazing “fix” took place.  It involved God’s ability and disposition to save, my surrender,  and the “procedure room” of baptism where my sins were forgiven (Acts 2:38, Romans 6:3-6)

I’d be even more foolish to have turned down the opportunity to have my spiritual heart healed. What an amazing offer.

So today I go to get my physical heart fixed, and if you are reading this  I’d appreciate your prayers for a successful catheter ablation today.  Thanks so much.