I’ve spent a lot of time on highway 13 between Kansas City and Springfield in the last year. First it was springy trees, then those summery ones….and then my favorite fall colors. You don’t miss a Midwest fall until you’ve lived in eternal summer and Colorado where it is mostly yellow aspens for fall. Don’t get me wrong, aspen and birch trees are my favorite, but I definitely missed fall in the Midwest. The colors were splendid and were truly one of my joys while driving back and forth to help with my nephew.
But what comes after fall? Winter. And what happens to trees? The leaves fall off.
A lot of people will make a reference to how wonderful winter is when leaves fall, because it is a new start for a tree and a fresh start for spring. Maybe I have that wrong, but whatever the saying is…it is a positive spin on the fact a tree has been left naked.
While driving, I couldn’t help but notice how vulnerable the tree is when it lost all its’ leaves. No fluffiness surrounding it, and no place for animals to find shelter from sun. Leaves are life giving for trees.
Even in vulnerability there lies a purpose.
Did you know trees lose their leaves to conserve energy through the winter months? I’m sure I learned this in high school biology, but that information has long since left my brain.
It is hard to be vulnerable and within that vulnerability we do have to conserve energy for what comes next.
I suck at being vulnerable. I’m certain it has something to do with not wanting to show weakness, with a strong side of pride, but it is also evidence of fortified walls I like to erect to protect myself. But protect me from what?
Maybe all of these and more.
Here is the most important part, though, I am completely vulnerable with God. He has proven himself over and over to me that he can be trusted with everything I was, everything I am and everything I will be for him. He has consistently demonstrated his love for me in all times of my life, even when I am angry and frustrated. And in turn, God is my root system that I feed off and provides purpose for me within his Kingdom. And as you might have read in ‘abide,’ my root system goes pretty deep with God.
God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. [1 John 4:17-19 MSG]
Vulnerability does not make us weak, and we should not have fear within that vulnerability. But that also means we need to hold safe space for each other. Can we all agree that when someone chooses to be vulnerable with us, we honor that as a community, but also by reciprocating. Imagine what our community could look like if we could peel back the layer of relationships so deep that we are able to truly be vulnerable with each other.
Vulnerability should beget vulnerability.
A tree may lose its’ leaves, but the root system is still fully intact.