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  • Writer's pictureMo Lederman

Cozying Up to Vulnerability

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

When I was a kid every year the school would administer some kind of standardized test - CATs, MATs, Iowas. I loved those tests. These were quiet days of perfectly filling in those little bubbles with my number two pencil. And I was good at them. They made me feel capable. That is until Fourth Grade when they introduced the essay component. The teachers would assign a theme. (It always seemed to be “My Three Wishes.”) And we were required to organize and write an essay that would be judged by two impartial readers. My writing was judged (to put it kindly) to be subpar. I remember reading those comments and feeling shocked and embarrassed. I was a smart kid! (At least that's what the CATs told me.) How could I write so poorly? And then class moved on. We never talked about those test results or about how to be better writers. Year after year I would face those writing tests with anxiety. Year after year I would get the same results. It felt like my annual shaming by the public school system. And eventually anytime I needed to write anxiety would well up inside me. I would dash something off quickly and hand it in as fast as possible. Or I would ignore it, preferring a zero to admitting my inadequacy.

It wasn’t until my junior year of college when I spent a year in England as a member of an intensive writing program that I finally learned to write. It turned out that what made me a better writer was writing. Every day I sat at my keyboard and forced words into the screen. My writing went from chaotic to perfunctory to comprehensible to (as the Brits put it) “not bad!” I was able to read my professors’ comments and then apply their critiques to the next piece. I even started reading my textbooks differently. They were not just there for me to glean information, but I could use them to gather techniques to polish my own writing.

Little did my Fourth Grade self know that my future vocation would depend so much on writing. (At that age I was pretty sure that I was destined to be on Broadway.) But between grad school essays, sermons, seasonal letters to the congregation, stewardship campaign and Christmas giving letters, the enews, emails and now this blog, I write all of the time. The truth is writing still makes me feel vulnerable, and I still get a knot in my stomach every time I hit the keyboard, but vulnerability is the key to change and growth.

You are likely on this page because you are looking for a new way forward with your congregation. You might want help honing a vision for communal life or with crafting a solid communications plan. One of the first steps in forging a different path with your congregation is getting comfortable with vulnerability. Without it we get stuck - not leaving our comfort zone due to shame or fear. When we get comfortable with vulnerability we can question our assumptions, learn a few new things and make connections we would have otherwise missed. Cultivating vulnerable community is essential to the work you are embarking on.

In this blog, I invite you to join me along the way as I share my thoughts (through my writing!!) so that together we can help your community live fully into becoming beloved Godly community.

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