Sunday, April 29, 2012

On vulnerability and tooting

There is a song that my kids and husband love, and I hate.  It's called "Mama tooted", and it's about...well, you can probably guess.  It surprises me how passing gas (or just the thought of it) is always hilarious for the younger set (and guys in general, it seems, never outgrow the humor).  I was away from my kids one long day and called to check in and get some lovin', but only got them laughing and singing into the phone, "Mama tooted.  Mommy, you tooted (hahahahahaha!!!)" and then, clunk, the phone hits the floor as they lose interest in real conversation.  As for tooting, I like to pretend it never happens, much like the mama in the song.

My husband regularly tries to convince me of how funny it is and that I should let go (literally, ahem).  I never understood why he enjoys seeing in me what I view as embarrassing weaknesses or mistakes, until I had a revelation this weekend.  It's not about failure, but vulnerability.  While I struggle so much to "get it right", "keep it together", and have that perfectly maintained exterior, making it all look good on the surface, he enjoys seeing the human side of me and knowing that I'm real.

I went to a conference of women in ministry this weekend called Feast: Festival of Word, Table, and Image.  As a board member of Virginia Baptist Women in Ministry, I've helped to plan the event in the past, but this year had the pleasure of attending as a participant.  "Feast" is truly an apt word for it as it feeds your senses and your soul.  From the artwork gallery, to the lovingly prepared meal, to the words and time shared with friends, it is such a renewing and affirming experience.

It can also be for me a time of feeling a little less than those around me.  I get all weird and competitive, and see myself failing next to these women who seem so sure of themselves, who speak so eloquently, and who reflect deeply and theologically (even exegeting in Greek).  The art all around reminds me that I never got beyond stick figures.  I see them and dream of one day speaking and leading in a way that touches the lives of others.  I want to write like they've written, and have a beautiful blog that showcases the immaculate life I've always dreamed of. 

The problem is that real life is messy, dreams are subjective, and I'll never get where I want to go until I can be grateful for where (and who) I am.  This year was remarkably different for me, though.  I feel more content than I ever have, enjoying the challenges of my job, and confident in my relationship with my husband of 10 years, grateful for his sacrifices and successes taking care of our home, kids, and his business.  Because of the freedom our new schedules have afforded me, I'm also enjoying my kids much more than the old way in which the daily grind would wear me down.  I also had the special blessing of having one of my favorite students with me at Feast, which is a gift as I get to share in ministry with her and be a part of her journey of discovery.

But perhaps the greatest thing that allowed me to drop my guard and enjoy the sisterhood of the many friends, colleagues, and mentors that were there was realizing their own vulnerability.  They shared from their heart, their hurts, and their doubts.  In sermons and in conversation, they revealed their struggles and uncertainties.  They used choice words and crude jokes.  They were real, not the Photoshopped blog versions of themselves that turn me green with envy.  And I realized that this is my gift, too...receiving their realness and sharing my own humanity and vulnerability with the world.

As long as I don't have to admit to tooting.


  1. Lovely. I love you, friend. Just as you are, you're amazing. - angie

  2. wonderful! so, so glad to be with you, in your presence and company.