As I gave the keynote address at the youth empowerment conference in Los Angeles, I was self-aware enough to know that I stood in both sorrow and hope. While unapparent to attendees, there was deep sorrow over the loss of my father; yet there also resounded within a resilient hope that strengthened me. Although I had previously decided to address the audience with themes from my book concerning God’s call to us to “become”, I altered my prepared speech and chose to speak from a place of transparency and vulnerability. If you know me, you are keenly aware that I am an extremely private person. So, the idea of peeling back the layers of life to an audience – especially an unfamiliar audience – is not something I am likely to do. But, overwhelmingly, I understood that my priority was not to sell books as much as it was to lend myself permission to speak as Dawrell, a son who had just lost his father, and not Pastor Rich, a consummate professional.
While my address spurned this group to relentlessly pursue the impossible, it also included how my father and I grew to enjoy a deep bond. As I transitioned from talking about how leaders see impossibilities as possibilities and into how my father and I did a virtually impossible thing like repair our fractured relationship, it was evident I had struck a chord within many of them. They leaned in to listen and their gaze became more intent upon me. Now, I was no longer simply a “talking head” but a real person. A person who had experienced similar struggles as they and most recently met loss. In that moment, as I shared a very intimate piece of myself, as I allowed them to see me unravel, I sensed God’s grace in a profound way. And, it was presently massaging all of our hearts.
I have concluded that it takes a great deal of strength and security to be weak. For, only when we live into the fragility of our humanity are we able to see that we were never meant to be the impenetrable being we often project ourselves to be. On the contrary, it is through our human weakness that God’s strength is made perfect. Then, in many ways we must redefine what it means to be weak. We are taught that weakness is not consistent with masculinity and that it is a gateway to abuse by others or into unhealthy habits. But, perhaps there is a redeeming quality in weakness. Maybe it is the channel for God’s presence to be fully realized in our lives. It could be that weakness, vulnerability and transparency are the forbidden doors we need to open and walk through to heal ourselves and others. Quite possibly it is the road into new normals and the reality of God’s presence already there.
Follow the series:
A New Normal - Part I
Walking Towards Great - Part III
For more information: www.dawrellrich.com