I just completed my first full month of preaching at the Lake Harbour Drive Church of Christ.

I still find it hard to imagine. After all the pain, hurt, anger, frustration, and humiliation, I find it so hard to believe my current situation is real.
And yet here I am.

On the last Sunday of the month, June 29, 2014, I stood at the back doors of the auditorium to greet church members and visitors alike as our worship time came to an end. I love this old time-honored tradition of shaking hands and giving and receiving hugs. (And for new preachers, who understand, secretly playing the game called Guess That Name!)

At any rate, as I was standing there pressing the flesh, one sweet lady in particular stood out. Yes, I guessed her name wrong and after we laughed a bit about my obvious struggle to remember names, she made a really strange comment.

“Thank you for being vulnerable.”
My immediate response was to say thank you. And then my brain kicked into a higher gear.

She was thanking me for being broken.
She was thanking me for being vulnerable.
She was thanking me for not wearing a mask or pretending all is well.

Truthfully, I don’t intend to be that forthcoming. I don’t want to be vulnerable. I don’t want to have anything in my life to be vulnerable about.

Being vulnerable isn’t something I willingly choose.
No, I’d rather be a turtle with a hard exterior shell. I’d rather be able to pull myself inside–to hide away from those who might seek to exploit my vulnerability or pain.

Being vulnerable isn’t something very pleasant to see.
No, I’d rather not have weaknesses or faults or struggles.
I’d rather be able to thumb my nose at the world and never let them see me sweat.

Being vulnerable isn’t something I want to acknowledge.
No, I’d rather not have my brokenness exposed.
I’d rather pretend to be whole and complete, untouched, unfazed by the brokenness of this world.

I want you to see strong, fit, and able.
I want you to know me as capable, challenging, and engaging.
I want you to see me as a preacher at the top of his game—a guy who can wax elephants better than most.

But the truth is simple.
And harsh.
And sometimes quite ugly.
No, almost always ugly.

I am a broken man.
Broken.
Busted.
Banged up.
Flawed.

And since many of you know of my heart-breaking past, you might be tempted to cut me a little slack or give me a little grace. When you’ve been through such a life-altering, reality shaping tragedy, how can you not be broken?

Do us both a favor and don’t go there.

Do.Not.Go.There.

Nope. Don’t go there.
The last thing we need is anybody trumpeting our brokenness. We don’t need folks displaying an affected brokenness as some strange way to connect with people—to wave and holler as if to say, Hey, look at me!

It’s not a mark of honor.
It’s not a badge of courage.
It’s not a symbol of strength.

It’s my reality.
It’s where I have come from.
It’s where I still am.

Yep.
See yourself in this picture yet?

It’s our reality.
It’s where we have come from.
It’s where we still are.

Vulnerability is not about using some weird Christian pick-up line.
On the other hand, being vulnerable is about honesty, need, and dependence.

It’s about being honest with our self, each other, and God.
It’s about being truthful.
It’s about shinning light into the dark corners of what we say, what we think, what we feel, and how we act.

Being vulnerable is being honest about our need.
It ‘s about recognizing our own inability to affect the answers.
It’s about recognizing our dependency on God for what is broken and flawed.

I don’t want to go to church where everybody is a mess.
But I do.

Vulnerability demands we recognize we don’t have all the answers and we aren’t all that well put together.

The quicker we acknowledge our brokenness while being truthful about our struggles, the sooner we will be able to sing…

I can barely stand right now.
Everything is crashing down,
And I wonder where You are.

I try to find the words to pray.
I don’t always know what to say,
But You’re the one that can hear my heart.

Even though I don’t know what your plan is,
I know You’re making beauty from these ashes.

I’ve seen joy and I’ve seen pain.
On my knees, I call Your name.
Here’s my broken hallelujah.

With nothing left to hold onto,
I raise these empty hands to You.
Here’s my broken hallelujah.

You know the things that have brought me here.
You know the story of every tear.
‘Cause You’ve been here from the very start.

Even though I don’t know what your plan is,
I know You’re making beauty from these ashes.

I’ve seen joy and I’ve seen pain.
On my knees, I call Your name.
Here’s my broken hallelujah.

With nothing left to hold onto,
I raise these empty hands to You.
Here’s my broken hallelujah.

When all is taken away, don’t let my heart be changed.
Let me always sing Hallelujah
When I feel afraid, don’t let my hope be erased
Let me always sing Hallelujah.
Let me always sing Hallelujah.

I will always sing
I will always sing
Here’s my broken hallelujah.

(A Broken Hallelujah!)

I love the fact that this church called a broken man to preach. I love the fact that they recognized long before I did that we are all broken. And I am so glad that together our vulnerability shows…

Here I am bowed, beaten, gimpy, and broken.
It’s not a mark of honor.
It’s not a badge of courage.
It’s not a symbol of strength.

It’s my reality.
It’s where I have come from.
It’s where I still am.

Broken.
Vulnerable.
And yet, very, very happy.

When we embrace our broken nature, healing begins. That’s a message all churches might consider.

How vulnerable are you?

Les Ferguson, Jr.
Lake Harbour Church of Christ
Ridgeland, MS