Making Space for Vulnerability

Did you catch the photo that captured a fleeting look of anguish crossing Simone Biles’ (the reigning gold medalist) face right before she bravely withdrew from the gymnastics team final? 
 
When I saw it, it took my breath away. 
 
I know that look.  
 
Don’t we all? Haven’t all of us at one time, or maybe a lot of times, been in that place of feeling like if we have to press on with a brave face and pretend to be okay for even a second longer, we’ll crack in half? 
 
What Simone did next epitomizes bravery. In a culture that famously prizes pushing through no matter the cost (who could forget Kerri Strug’s 1996 vault that, yes, won gold, but at great risk to her health?), Biles said enough is enough. She refused to play by the unspoken rule to pretend you’re “fine just fine” and carved out her own space to be vulnerable, to be honest, and to put her mental health first – just as tennis star Naomi Osaka did last month when she refused to participate in a postgame news conference citing mental health preservation. 
 
In caring for themselves, Osaka and Biles also sparked a global conversation about what it means for individual human beings to exist in a world where – even in the middle of trauma, struggle, pain, and immense pressure – we are told to buck up, let it go, and press on. Ideally, with a smile.  
 
And yet, these two Black women athletes – in a world where Black women bear a disproportionate amount of that struggle and pressure – said no. They refused to abandon themselves, or their self-worth, or what they know of as truth. It was an incredible example that we all need. Because we all need the chance to claim our own sense of agency, and our own need for rest, the right to be vulnerable, and human.  Especially after the last year and a half, we all need to create a clearing in our lives where we can say – this is our truth.  
 
That is why we hope you’ll join us in Beloved Conversations – small-group gatherings during which we’ll process the past year-plus of the pandemic (and all that came with it) together. We don’t expect you just to move on and say you’re “fine, just fine,” and we encourage you not to expect that of yourself either. 
 
Over the pandemic, we’ve all been siloed trying to work through what this pandemic experience meant for us and our families and what moving forward will look like on our own. Beloved Conversations are spaces to explore that together – to be supported, heard, and affirmed in the depth of your experience and to examine what the experience means moving forward. 
 
At each Beloved Conversations gathering, there will be a host to help guide the group. You will have the opportunity in a safe environment to voice your pandemic story (and hear others’ stories), process feelings out loud, and consider what you want to carry with you moving forward. 
 
We went through something really hard together, and we survived. Let’s continue seeing each other through, making space, sharing our stories, and being human, together.
 
With love,
 
Rev. Gretchen

2 thoughts on “Making Space for Vulnerability

  1. I am truly in need of the Beloved Conversations group. I spent the pandemic alone and “being fine” at times, yet dealing with depression and loneliness. My neighbor Kristy told me about the loving support from Foothills.
    I am in Alaska now visiting my sons and chosen family and return on August 10th. Will there be an opportunity to join a group or will there be upcoming groups? Thank you, Marilou

    1. Hi Marilou! There are several Beloved Conversations gatherings happening after August 10th, and we would welcome your presence at one of them! You can see the dates and times of the gatherings at foothillsuu.org/conversation. We will also have new small groups (called Journey groups) forming in the early Fall will meet regularly from October through December. We’ll share more information about those Journey groups, including how to sign up, soon!

Comments are closed.