“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.”
These are the words of Madeleine L’Engle, and this week I’ve been reminded of the wisdom they contain.
This weekend, Christianity Today posted an excerpt from my new book, Jesus is Better Than You Imagined, in which I share a story about childhood sexual abuse and my adult struggle to understand my sexuality. Many have asked why I would do such a thing.
This wasn’t a career move or a brazen attempt to sell more books. Being open about these experiences as an evangelical writer leaves me, like so many scarecrows, exposed. I do not plan to become a spokesman for any of the issues addressed in this article. The events shared are a part of my story, but they are not the whole of my calling. Today, I return to my job as a columnist committed to exploring the interface between faith and culture and helping foster difficult conversations that others may be unwilling to have.
I shared my sexuality story chiefly because, as L’Engle says, vulnerability is one of the essential ingredients to being alive. And, I would add, to being human. When we share our stories, we share ourselves. This act creates a portal to community, to be being known, to being loved. When we refuse to share our stories and ourselves, we stiff-arm those around us and keep others from being conduits of grace in our lives.
Owning one’s story can be costly, but it is not nearly as expensive as spending one’s life running from it.
This process of moving toward openness started with my family and friends. As I’ve excavated unshared parts of myself, I’ve begun sharing them with those I care about. This has been a beautiful and painful process. Through lament and grief and honesty, I’ve tugged at the purse strings of relationship, drawing myself closer to those around me. After nearly two years of offering these gifts to my inner circle, I wanted to share many of those with a broader audience.