On December 16, 2013 at 9:40 am, Andrew, our first-born of six, wrote this email to his siblings: “I want to head into this New Year with no regrets…One of my biggest regrets is how I have not been gracious toward you. As an elder brother, I feel like I have somehow expressed verbally or nonverbally certain unrealistic expectations, among other offenses…I know many times I have been harsh and I am sorry. I wish I had specific things to point out…I am sad and sorry and ask you to forgive me. With love, Andrew”
On December 29, at 9:27 pm, Gabriel, number two son, wrote, “Thank you for sharing, Andrew. I also would like to ask forgiveness to all of you. I love you all dearly and would take a bullet for each of you without hesitation. I know it doesn’t always come across that way and I’m sorry. I have been too critical of you all and I know my pride has gotten in the way in many an argument. I’m sorry for not listening enough and being too quick to give advice. I’m sorry for at times not taking things seriously and doing too much joking. Thank you for your patience. I am a work in progress. Grateful brother. Gabriel”
VULNERABILITY SHOWS WEAKNESS.
Paul discovered that God met him in his weakness. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Paul didn’t like it at first. His background taught him to be competitive, argumentative, and on top rather than on the bottom. In Christ, he found the bottom to be the place of strength. He learned to gradually accept weaknesses, insults, and hardships, saying, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (10). Would you say that Andrew and Gabriel were showing appropriate weakness? What do you think it released into the atmosphere?
VULNERABILITY RELEASES GRACE.
We are less likely to pick a fight or start an argument with someone who goes low and shows weakness. We have too often filled the air with complaining, competing, comparing. When someone takes courage and goes low, the fight is over and grace is released. This is what John meant when he said, “When we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:7). Vulnerability creates connections, camaraderie, koinonia. The opposite is also true.
DEFENSIVENESS DESTROYS RELATIONSHIPS.
Floyd Mayweather is one of the greatest boxers of all time, known especially for his defensive fighting. It is hard to hurt him. Andrew and Gabriel, by contrast, put them in the position of weakness. “Vulnus” is a Latin word meaning “wound.” Vulnerability means “the willingness to be wounded.” The cross is the clearest example of vulnerability. Andrew and Gabriel were going the way of the cross, the way of weakness. Mayweather is defensive, because his assignment is to knock his opponent out if he can. Andrew’s assignment was to draw close to his siblings, so he chose the opposite tactic, being weak rather than strong, being vulnerable rather than argumentative. Try it–in your marriage, on the job, in your family, at your church. Go ahead–change the atmosphere. It works.