In our current time, we have the ability to be more connected than ever before.
I can simultaneously video chat with my nephew in Iowa on my phone, email my parents in Michigan about my day on my computer, and scroll through Facebook and Instagram on my iPad to see what my friends have been up to. Yet, even with all this ability for connection, we still have millions of people who experience loneliness and a lack of connection with others.
Researcher/storyteller Brené Brown has gained a wide following since her 2010 TED talk on shame and vulnerability. After recommending a client watch it recently, I decided that I should re-watch it.
One comment in particular by Brown stuck out: “We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history.”
Brown talks about how we use money, food, drugs, alcohol and pills to cover up for the shame that we experience. She points out how we all experience shame, but it is those people who have the courage to embrace their imperfections and be vulnerable with others that have a deep sense of worthiness. Those people who experience connection with other people all had one thing in common: they believed that they were worthy of love and belonging.
Since believing that you are worthy of love and belonging is the only difference between those people that experience connection and those that don't, how can those of us who don't believe we are worthy change the way we view ourselves?
It all starts with being authentic to who you are and having the courage to reveal our imperfections rather than hiding them. Or, in other words, it means being vulnerable.
Brown shows us that only through vulnerability are we able to be authentic and experience that belief that we are worthy of love and belonging.
This idea of being true to who you are seems to really have gained traction recently, particularly toward our youth.
Any time I start watching a TV show geared toward adolescents, there always seems to be some main character fighting the internal battle of wanting to fit in with the cool crowd but also trying to be genuine. I'm sure you've seen one of the countless movies or TV shows that follows that path.
Although there is definitely value in acknowledging who we are and being courageous to admit our imperfections, I believe that there's a piece of the puzzle that Brown or the most recent TV show has left out: what do we do with our imperfection? How do we handle the fact that, even if we are accepting of our brokenness, it is still there?
I think that this is the difficulty for many when trying to be vulnerable. We can often admit our shortcomings, but we struggle to accept ourselves with them. This is where I think that biggest piece of the puzzle comes in. My imperfection can only fully be dealt with at the cross by someone who also lived a fully authentic, courageous and vulnerable life. It is through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that I can remember that I am worthy of love and belonging. And, it is in remembering that this can never be taken away from me that I can be vulnerable enough to share my brokenness with others to hopefully help them see their same need.
While we celebrate this particularly on Easter, we need to be reminded of it every day.
• Mischa McCray is a licensed professional counselor and a licensed marriage and family therapist. Send questions or topics you’d like him to discuss to firstname.lastname@example.org.