A ministry colleague, Rev Steve Koski, has been posting thoughtful reflections on Facebook. His reflections offer great insight into our human condition, arising from his own experiences of life, love and loss. Here is one of his recent posts which resonated with the experiences of so many living with difficult situations.
Behind the shiny surface we present to one another, everyone has a story. It is not our strength that unites us. It is our vulnerability. Life is hard. Damn hard. If you feel like life is hard it is not because there’s something wrong with you or you are doing it wrong. The hard truth is that life is just hard.
The Psalmist said in Psalm 31, “I am a broken vessel.” Me too. We should all wear stickers on our foreheads that say – FRAGILE. HANDLE WITH CARE.
I hear often, “I’d come to church but I know I’d just cry. I will return when I can pull it together.”
This makes me so sad because our church community should be the place you feel free to cry; the place you feel safe to be vulnerable; the place you don’t have to wear a mask or pretend everything’s OK when it’s not; the place where you can trust you won’t be shamed for simply being human.
Imagine belonging to a community where you don’t have to put on a brave face or put up walls.
Imagine belonging to a community where you don’t have to feel ashamed or feel any expectations that you should have it all together.
Imagine belonging to a community where you hear, “You? Me too.”
Imagine belonging to a community where you are reminded you are made in the image of God’s goodness and you are loved beyond comprehension.
Imagine belonging to a community where “where does it hurt?” is asked more often that “what do you think?”
Imagine a community of healers where you can trust your fragility will be handled with care.
A starting point for such a community is to treat your own fragility with tenderness and care. Jean Vanier wrote, “We don’t know what to do with our own weakness except hide it or pretend it doesn’t exist. So how can we welcome fully the weakness of another if we haven’t welcomed our own weakness.” Sometimes the person who is in greatest need of our alms of kindness is ourselves. Handle yourself with care today.
(Rev Steve Koski was Minister at Brougham Place Uniting Church in the 90’s, and is now in ministry in Bend, Oregon, USA. I visited Steve a couple of years ago and was inspired by his ministry)