Full disclosure: We who have the privilege of working at The Reformed Church don’t usually get much feedback on our ministry. We live by the phrase “no news is good news.” That’s not to say we don’t feel encouraged by our work, it’s just that free flowing praise just doesn’t seem natural for most “RCB’ers.” However, a few weeks ago, I preached a sermon that, to be honest, I thought was a bloop single at best. It was a sermon I preached two days after returning from a ten day trip to Michigan to see family and in it, I asked us to consider what are we carrying playing off of Jesus’ words in Matthew’s Gospel. “Come to me all who are weary and carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”

In that moment, I looked up from my manuscript and shared that Sarah and I were carrying the heavy burden of a loved one shackled by the chains of alcoholism. I hadn’t written out that line, but for some reason, I felt compelled to share it.

Following the sermon, I received no less than a dozen emails and texts from you sharing openly and honestly your story of alcoholism. One shared about a father who struggled his whole life with the disease. When he wasn’t drinking he was fun-loving and wonderful man, but when he was drinking, he was simply intolerable to be around. Others shared with me their own journey of sobriety, and waking up every morning choosing not to have that one first drink. And still others shared with me words of care and empathy for the journey Sarah and I are on.

I work with a therapist/coach, and one of our objectives is to lead with vulnerability. For me, that line felt risky and I’m grateful it was received in grace and by God’s mercy seemed to connect with many on a very personal level. Brene Brown is an expert in vulnerability and writes a great deal about the topic, one passage being this:

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

Dear friends, I would encourage you before the summer ends to lean into places of vulnerability with those who have earned the right to be heard in your life. Maybe it’s as simple as being truthful when someone asks: “How’s your summer going?” Maybe it’s finding time during the dog days of summer to get together with the friend you’ve been meaning to catch up and share how much you miss their friendship. Maybe it’s even taking a bit of time to reflect on your own family tree – broken branches and all.

As for our loved one battling alcoholism? He’s still drinking and we’re still letting him know he’s loved. That’s what we’ve been carrying. What about you?

Grace & Peace,