Ultimate Vulnerability: An Open Letter to a Friend

Greetings, friends…

I first wrote this letter almost ten years ago. I wrote it to myself and to a few other people I was thinking of at the time. Have you ever written yourself a letter before? Maybe after reading this, you’ll write something to your own heart that you need to hear.

It is my fervent prayer that this letter speaks to you in some way.

My dear friend…

To discover who you are and what you’re about requires great humility and genuineness. It requires you to look at who you are without pretense or artificiality. Learning to live congruently (basically, in accordance with who you are and with what you’re about) also requires great humility and genuineness. Beyond that, it requires vulnerability, because it necessitates that you empty yourself of anything that’s not you or that doesn’t belong. In doing this, voids (of a sort) are created, or, rather, are revealed. And they must be filled. But they can’t be filled by you through an act of applied force of will—even though you may possess such agency. The reason you can’t self-fill a void within you is the fact that, a hundred out of a hundred times, you’ll self-inflict yourself with some created (and, largely, abstract) notion that isn’t you and that doesn’t belong in you.

Our neediness is not a condition we can understand rightly, readily, or completely. It’s like trying to talk about something we don’t know much about but have little clue concerning the full extent of our ignorance. Written another way, it’s a lot like a blind man holding a mirror to his face in the hopes of recognizing a familiar image, only to be reminded once again (1) that he’s blind, and (2) that he has no tangible concept of what he looks like or, even, what it means to be blind (in terms of its comparison to seeing). And so, we face a dilemma: We’re in need of something in our personhood that’s impossible to meet by adding something to us. And that creates stress within us and makes us feel uncomfortable… and vulnerable. We’re lacking in something, know it deeply, and yet have little clue about what it is we’re missing or how to get it.

To fill the voids, we can’t look to others either, for they, too, are blind and will add only that which isn’t us and that which doesn’t belong. And so again, we feel the perplexity of our vaguely experienced deficiencies. We don’t know what it is we’re missing; yet, deep inside, each of us knows we’re missing something really, really important. Coming to such a realization (and admitting to it out loud) is the first step toward illumination and, ultimately, our salvation (that is, the true salvaging of our life). The second step is refraining from trying to add to us anything we think will alleviate the deficiency (or, rather, alleviate or anesthetize the feelings of deficiency that intrude upon the seeming calm undercurrents of our current psycho-physical existence).

What’s needed, my friend, is an awakening—not the adding of something to us but rather the awakening OF that which we already have or, in some instances, our awakening TO that which we already have. The voids we feel are those parts within us that are asleep. But they’re not really voids; they’re just the vacuous spaces created by the deflated energies of our personhood. That’s why turning toward God and asking Him to awaken and inflate—via His Spirit-breath—His image within us is so critical. God’s energizing Presence—The Eternal Breath of I AM—is The Key that unlocks the mysterious depths of who we are and what we’re about and, apophatically, reveals who we’re not and what we’re not about. God—and God alone—is The Source of our wisdom—the ability to live congruently from a place of deep self-knowing and self-sensing. To be “filled with the Spirit” is to be completely inflated with God and awakened to who we are in Him. To be “being filled,” as Paul urges each of us in Ep 5:18, is the progressive surrendering to God’s inflating processes until, at long last, we each rise up to our full height and stature as An Image-bearer and Blood-related Son or Daughter of the Most High [Our Papa]. The process begins with coming to the end of ourselves and continues with our turning toward God (again and again and again) to experience the reviving, renovating, repatriating, and life-salvaging work of His Spirit.

Once the surrendering process begins, eliminating those things that aren’t you and that don’t belong (basically, the echoes and residuals of your crucified—and, thus, annihilated—fallen nature) will need to take center stage for a while… maybe even for a few years. While the process of completely rethinking your life will take the rest of your life, significant progress can be made within a relatively short time (perhaps, even, within a year or two), so long as you look to God repeatedly and let Him help you learn to think and feel the way He does about things, the people around you (Himself included), and, of course, your own life.

As you (in partnership with God) begin to eliminate that which isn’t you and that which doesn’t belong, you’ll experience times that may feel like an embarrassing nakedness. That’s normal. While you may feel naked, you won’t be naked; you’ll just be feeling the freedom that comes with being extricated from that which was smothering you. As more and more monstrous-like attachments and accoutrements—the echoes and residuals of your crucified (and, thus, annihilated) fallen nature—are removed, space will be created within your soul, into which God can be invited to give you what you’ve always wanted: More of Him, and more of you truly found in Him. Did you know that your life really is just Lovingkindess—that is, God Himself—giving Himself away to you? He truly is the Wind in Your Life-sails. Whether you acknowledge it or not, receive it or not, Lovingkindness is constantly giving Himself away to you—continually and continuously, without end. God cannot help but give Himself away to you. God is Love, and, outside the Trinity, you are the principal object of His love.

Full wakefulness, a conditioned state we all desire, is nothing less than intimate and Divine union, oneness, connectedness, integratedness, and congruency-of-being with the Trinity. While you’ll still be you (and 100% you), you’ll be the unique expression of God’s image living for, in, with, through, and (mysteriously) as you. As you start to surrender more of your life to God, your purpose and mission, as well as your dream of what God’s life expressed through you is supposed to look like, will begin to find its congruent and progressive expression for, in, with, though, and (mysteriously) as you. In time and over time, as you surrender more and more to God and to “the dream (God’s Dream)” more fully, you’ll be brought, over and over again, to a place of ever-increasing vulnerability, and brought just one step closer to that place I like to call “ultimate (or absolute) vulnerability.” THAT place is a place where there’s no separateness between you and God. While, paradoxically, you can never be more one with God than you are right now, your experienced oneness can always be expanded. Since God is infinite, your experienced oneness with God can and will continue to expand throughout all eternity, never quite reaching a true finality. How cool is it that God created each one of us with the capacity (and space) to grow forever into the person He created each of us to be? In a way, because God’s infinite, we need the time afforded by eternal, never-ending life to become like Him. And because we’ll never be fully like Him, that means life for us has to be without end. Without eternity on our side, the finality of God’s will being accomplished has no possible chance.

God, through His deep love for you and His deep respect for the freedom He’s woven into the fabric of your personhood, has made Himself vulnerable—ultimately vulnerable—to you. He loves you, and He’ll always love you. Even if you never love Him back. (This is a risk He takes with each one of us individually.)

In beginning to live out God’s Dream for you, you’ll begin to respond to life more the way He does. In becoming more like God, you’ll start loving others without ever having to be loved by them in return. Love—true and genuine love—loves purely for the sake of loving the beloved, and nothing more. Be not dismayed by this. Loved in return or not, you as the Surrendered Lover (that is, you as Jesus living for, in, with, through, and—mysteriously—as you) will always benefit, because inherent to loving another is the simple joy and self-transcendence that arises as one begins to become love organically by doing and finally being that which is loving. This is love in its purest expression, its most vulnerable and generative offering.

Go, and discover more of who you are and of what you’re about. Partner with God to eliminate that which isn’t you and that which doesn’t belong; and ask Him to awaken His Divine image within you. This is life, my friend, with a capital L… life that’s lived in the ever-drawing Life, Light, and Love of Ultimate Vulnerability. Don’t settle for anything less.

In all this, I wish you Godspeed…


Today’s MRL Maxim: Whether you acknowledge it or not, receive it or not, Lovingkindness is constantly giving Himself away to you–continually and continuously, without end.

Today’s MRL Call-to-action: Write yourself a letter.