A New Normal
I pride myself on how I’ve always managed to keep a level head in stressful situations, but I admit that level-headedness is the result of an attempt to maintain a certain public image. I want to be seen as calm, cool, and collected amid the turbulence of life—I never want to be seen as out of sorts. So I’m intentional to remain centered through consistent spiritual practices such as prayer, mediation, and sacred reading.
But I’m learning that a little unraveling doesn’t mean I’m unstable, inconsistent, or faithless—it just means I’m human.
As humans, we ebb and flow between moments of security and insecurity. In fact, I believe there are times we have our footing in both—we can be in two places at one time: secure and insecure—faith-filled and full of doubt.
As I gave the keynote address at a youth empowerment conference in Los Angeles, I was self-aware enough to know that I stood in both sorrow and hope. I felt deep sorrow about the recent loss of my father—yet within me there also resounded a resilient hope that strengthened me. I had prepared to address the audience with themes from my book concerning God’s call to us to “become,” but I altered my prepared speech and chose instead to speak from a place of transparency and vulnerability. If you know me, you know I’m an extremely private person. So the idea of peeling back the layers of my life and revealing them to an audience—especially to an unfamiliar audience—isn’t something I would typically do. But I overwhelmingly understood that my priority was not to sell books as much as it was to give myself permission to speak as Dawrell, a son who had just lost his father, rather than Pastor Rich, a consummate professional.
My address encouraged this group to relentlessly pursue the impossible, and 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 into how my father and I did the impossible when we repaired our fractured relationship, it was evident I had struck a chord with many of the attendees. They leaned in to listen, and their gazes became more intent upon me. I was no longer simply a talking head but a real person—a person who had experienced similar struggles as they and had recently experienced 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 massaging all of our hearts.
It takes a great deal of strength and security to be weak.
It’s only when we live into the fragility of our humanity that we’re able to see we were never meant to be the impenetrable beings we often project ourselves to be. On the contrary, it’s through our human weakness that God’s strength is made perfect. So, in many ways, we must redefine what it means to be weak. We’re taught that weakness isn’t consistent with masculinity and that it’s a gateway to abuse by others or into unhealthy habits. But perhaps there’s a redeeming quality in weakness. Maybe it’s 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 possibility it’s the road to a new normal and the reality of God’s presence there.
Dawrell Rich is an author, pastor and public speaker. He is also the founder of Joshua’s House—a youth and young adult leadership organization that focuses on mentoring, community service, health & wellness and education. www.dawrellrich.com Twitter: @dawrellrich FB: dawrellgrich
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