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Sharing Vulnerabilities

My mom called and wanted me to pick her up so she could rest and be ready for work the next day. This is not an unusual request in and of itself, but my mom is an alcoholic and today she was under the influence. Normally, I would have gone but today I was tired, so I suggested picking her up after the kids went to bed. I also wanted to limit how many times my children witness their grandma, my mom, intoxicated. My husband came home a bit later and I told him that my mom called and wanted a pick up. Usually it is him that convinces me to do it but this time he had had enough and asked that I didn’t. Respectfully, and to keep peace in the house, I acquiesced. I phoned my mom and told her that I wouldn’t be picking her up.

I get scared when I don’t know if my mom is safe and that, more than anything else, drives me to pick her up most times and bring her home where it is safe. It is no different this time. I am still worried about my mom, especially knowing how often Aboriginal women go missing, but my family also needs to be protected.

After this I started thinking. I started thinking that this is the kind of a story that I wouldn’t tell anyone unless I knew them and felt that they could handle it. Telling this kind of story from my life is a vulnerability to me. I always think carefully about who I would tell if I had the desire to tell someone. The criteria would be whether they have gone through this before, if they know the context of my life, if they are non-judgmental, and so on, depending on the severity of the situation.

This also got me thinking...residential school survivors and their children are doing the most courageous act of being vulnerable at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). They are sharing their pain, hurt, joy, and sometimes the shame that have been a part of their identities and they are not choosing their audience! It is hard to share such truths to people that may not understand the context and presume to judge. And so a question came to my mind after all this reflection: What are the Canadians that have gone and listened to the TRC doing about sharing their vulnerabilities that will match or come close to those of the survivors? Why does it seem one-sided? This is not to belittle or diminish their heart-listening and compassion. I just want to know if Canadians would be open to being vulnerable in this context if they want to pursue justice and reconciliation. With all this in my mind and preventing me from sleeping, I turned to my devotional Bible to help me understand my feelings. I came to a passage that I read along with the devotion. The passage speaks of Jesus weeping when he heard that Lazarus had died.

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep.” (John 11:33-35)

The devotion that followed was titled “Jesus Wept and So Do We.” The part that stood out in the devotion was this:

“Like Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus, we cannot be deeply moved to transcendent life until we have been deeply moved by present reality. We do not move to transcendent by skipping over the human, but rather by knowing it to the full. We will not know the joy of resurrection until we have groaned over death. As Christians we must be moved with compassion and filled with tenderness. We must churn with anger, struggle with impatience, and cherish joy. We must yearn and want, ache and cry. We must know love.” (Ferder)

I sense that Canadians are moved with compassion and are filled with tenderness, but are they churning with anger, struggling with impatience, and cherishing joy, encompassing the whole vulnerability of the emotional spectrum? How you answer that question determines your course of action. Are you ready to share your vulnerabilities in the name of reconciliation?

*Ferder, Fran. (2000). Jesus Wept and So Do We. In Catholic Women's Devotional Bible.  NRSV Catholic Edition (1411).  Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House.

[Image: Flickr user Mr. Greenjeans]

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