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Finding a Home in the Vulnerability

Before I knew of God’s existence, I was what Fr. Powell would call a “loveless person.” I had no real sense of belonging, aimlessly wondering around in the loneliness of the world. It was only through God’s kindness that He opened the eyes of my heart and assured me I no longer was alone – “I am on your side. I care about you.” Before joining the convent, I thought the only way I could show love was to keep myself busy “solving” everyone’s problems. I was constantly serving without a consistent prayer life, running on my own strength. To have people need me made me feel like a good and holy person. When I felt underappreciated, I would get discouraged and upset and ask myself, “What am I getting out of this?” The more I focused on myself the more I lost myself. Fr. John Powell points out that this false kindness is not love. Love drags you away from your id so you can “give up self-centeredness, be a sensitive listener, postpone personal gratification, share your most vulnerable self, get honest feedback, be prepared to give 100%, work at dialogue and shared decision making.” (Powell, pg. 92)

To love is to be my most vulnerable self? Vulnerability is a fear that has come to light while living in community. It was difficult for me to trust people enough to truly share my life with them and let them in past the walls built around my heart. Because of my many defense-mechanisms, I even kept God at a distance. Hearing Brene Brown’s talk, The Power of Vulnerability, I was reminded of the days I spent in the classroom with Dr. Brown and how amazed I was at her openness to share her journey of vulnerability with her students. Like Dr. Brown with her research, I went to the convent thinking, “I am ready to soar through this and tackle anything thrown my way.” I was self-centered and had the “tourist” mentality, living with expectations of who I should be and who others should be. Of course, my rigid expectations were met with disappointment, despair and frustration. Through prayer and reflection I realized this had been a cycle I used in my life to numb my pains and my joys. At the silent retreat I was finally able to let my expectations slip through my fingers and go down with the sun. My hands were finally free. Each day, I took Jesus’ hand so he could guide me through the “fog” one step at a time. As I have allowed myself to be deeply and vulnerably seen by God, I feel Him chiseling the “excess” around my heart. Through the beginning of an authentic connection with God (“the long loving look of what is real”) I no longer feel the need to be like Martha but now I rather “choose the better part” and “waste time” at the feet of Jesus as Mary did.


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