Wednesday, September 30 2020 - 4:04 PM
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The “V” Word

While I was engaged as a mental health counselor, I was surprised by the many diverse people that called upon me for help—men, women, teens, seniors, families. Not only did they experience many complex and traumatic life situations, they represented many countries of origin and cultures. When I started counseling in the North, I did not expect what I would encounter in the South, such a sampling of my country and the world. My life has been enriched with the stories and struggles.

Yet during the current time of great racial distrust and unrest in my country, I have become weary, confused and anxious. I have not felt safe to try to address topics that seem to teeter so close to anger, hatred, and fear. I started believing that I will be perceived wrong no matter what I choose to say or do. That I am not enough. And I have felt my creativity wither.

I have also been praying and struggling for a way to express hope and inspiration—to do it by respecting everyone who reads my words. I have been trying to listen to many voices and process a lot of thoughts. And then, out of the blue I was contacted by a former counseling client—just reconnecting after years since we had been together. She was one of those four-star, career affirming clients whose sessions and results fit into a textbook. She followed treatment assignments, she got results that pleased her and she was grateful. We ended on a great moment between counselor and client.

She reached out to me this week and said she had told her fellowship group about me and wondered if I would address them. And in the process of trying to figure out times and ways to proceed in virtual connection, she then asked if I could speak with a smaller, more intimate group of men and women on the topic of  “Vulnerability.” She would also be glad to welcome my psychologist husband to sit in on the discussion.

Did I mention that she is African-American and we are not? This topic, now.

I am feeling very humbled about vulnerability. My husband and I just passed our 47th anniversary and we had a dismal week of less-than-stellar communication skills. We didn’t feel very vulnerable for a couple of days. However, calling on the strength of Godly forgiveness and commitment we renewed efforts at understanding and trust. I have also had some interesting yet intense conversations with our adult daughter regarding current affairs and life. Our family exists in a mini United Nations through our children’s marriages, our friends and church.

Now I anticipate meeting with the group of young people to talk. I want to hear their challenges and questions about vulnerability. And I want to be honest about my own struggles with vulnerability. If we live long enough on this planet, all of us will have been bruised, hurt, betrayed, or neglected, and we respond by fighting, running away or going numb. The natural defenses can shield us for awhile, yet if we cling to them, we can miss out on support, love, and growth.

I am reminded that God came to earth as a vulnerable human baby, who grew into a man that lived to show us the meaning of love, while being rejected. I continue to be amazed at how he responds to my prayers. Vulnerability came to me with an invitation. I believe that if we want to represent his love to this world, we must risk opening our hearts to opportunities of any size that will arise or can be created.

I am thanking God for my former client’s steps toward me for help, twice.

Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:

  1. Read Romans 12:9-21. What are your thoughts and responses.
  2. Can you remember any rewards or enrichment you have experienced for being vulnerable?

Karen Spruill writes from Florida.

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About Karen Spruill

Karen Spruill

writes from Orlando, Florida.

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