Scars, hurts, things that make you stand out, embarrassing things. You wouldn’t list them in a job interview. Some of them are your most well-hidden, darkest secrets. But this year, at our Activate weekend away, we are celebrating all that is AUTHENTIC about you and me. I am convinced that vulnerability is key to God’s work through us. Over the past 12 months I’ve been tuned into hearing people explain the paradox that our greatest weakness is our greatest strength.
Over the past few weeks, my free time has been influenced by one movie and one book. This book is Let Me Tell You a Story by Rob Parsons, the movie is The Greatest Showman. Alexa must be tired of playing the soundtrack in our house! Put aside your opinions on the movie, or what the critics said, and listen to ‘This Is Me’ from the movie.
The story behind this song has been well documented but if you’ve missed it, basically the amazing singer, Keala Settle (who plays the bearded lady in the film) had no confidence in her ability to perform the song. This next clip shows the tear-jerking moment when she realises she really can sing it! In the film, the character finds strength in her uniqueness and overcomes the shame she has carried over her appearance.
Much as the film sugar-coats the true story of famed show businessman P.T. Barnum, as a family, we were inspired by the band of misfits turning their misfortunes into success. Not only success in worldly terms, but you could argue that they started to change opinions towards those on the outskirts of society. I started to think about friends who had done something similar – turned their weaknesses into something good. One friend has coached thousands of women in a course to help develop confidence – a course she wrote as a direct consequence of her own struggle with depression and self-confidence. How many teachers do we know who went into the profession not because they found learning easy, but because they found learning hard and wanted to help others?
In the latest Rob Parsons book, Let Me Tell You a Story, Rob gives a candid account of how his mistakes, flaws and failures led to one of the key strengths of Care for the Family:
When I met with some trusted friends over thirty years ago to discuss starting a new charity, one of them said, ‘You and Dianne will be able to tour the country telling people how to build strong marriages.’
Ah’, I replied, ‘there’s a bit of a problem with that.’
‘What kind of problem?’
‘Well, I said, ‘we’ve been married for over fifteen years, but we’ve been through some very tough times – times when we didn’t feel much in love.’
My friend answered in a heartbeat. ‘All right,’ he said. ‘Tell people about that.’ And so one of the foundation blocks of Care for the Family was laid: vulnerability.
Years ago, when I had a group of ‘new wives’ round for a night at my house, I left an overturned breakfast bowl out on my worn-out, scrubbed, cracked family table. The ‘weetabix glue’ that had formed in the bowl and in the cracks of the table was the image I wanted them to take with them from a night at my house. Yes, gross mess, sticky surfaces, dirty dishes – that is what family life is about! And it’s what glues us together.
We may not have a full beard like the lady in the film, but we all have a stubborn chin hair or two! A quick google (for a friend!?) of ‘why has a three-inch hair grown out of my forehead overnight’ quickly uncovers pages of comments proving this strange phenomenon happens to other people too! I love hanging out with friends who tell me their disaster stories much more than those who appear to have it ‘all together’. I dare you to be AUTHENTIC today!