"It was a whirlwind love match and any thoughts of vulnerability or courage or risking the unknown, were secondary to being together."
Reverend Dr. Moira Laidlaw is a retired minister of the Uniting Church. Since the beginnings of the internet she has been writing & sharing liturgies online to thousands of ministries around the world. Her husband of 58 years, John, has humbly & gallantly supported her in the unique role of the Minister's husband. Their story speaks volumes about the power of vulnerability and courage.
I grew up vulnerable and knew it as weakness. With a clever mother and even more clever older sister I had no sense of worth at all. On reflection, I think my father may have had similar feelings.
I grew up believing I was stupid – probably because I was so often told that I was.
The problem probably was that I was a dreamer – watching the dust dance in a ray of sunshine, spending hours with face glued to the window marveling at the shapes of snowflakes - instead of doing ‘sensible’ things. So, my label was ‘stupid’.
It was only after leaving school and actually acting on my own initiative outside of family influence that I began to think that maybe I wasn’t so stupid after all. Unfortunately even as confidence grew in me that maybe I did have some gifts, my sense of inferiority had been stamped so deeply into my being that it still surfaces from time to time.
However, when my love for John was reciprocated, it was like a beautiful gift for me. Past feelings of weakness didn’t matter to him – he made me feel special – possibly something I had never really experienced. After fifty-eight years of marriage he still makes me feel special. I believe that this longstanding gift strengthened by our love for one another has given me the strength to be vulnerable and to see this as a gift that I can share with others.
To explain this I need to add the huge influence of the divine inspiration that has so shaped our lives following my call by God to ministry. This, above all, has freed me to be vulnerable in ways that have freed others also to be vulnerable in positive ways.
"I was asked how could I, as a female, possibly believe I could conduct a funeral service!"
For example, many years ago, during an interview by an all male committee to see if I ticked all their boxes for ministry, I was asked how could I, as a female, possibly believe I could conduct a funeral service. The implication being that my weakness as a woman would mean my breaking down in tears instead of showing powerful leadership! I have found over the years, that when I have had to pause during such a service, because of a lump in my throat, that this has empowered and freed others, especially family members, to openly express their grief and emotion and to know that this was acceptable.
Yes, for me, vulnerability has allowed me to be creative in ways that have been a gift to others, but I think, most importantly, to myself. I still run that inferiority tape from time to time, but far less frequently, in fact, I can’t remember when I last did run it. I can therefore celebrate that I am me, a person of worth, with gifts that enable others to discover and celebrate their gifts. Hallelujah!
John Laidlaw: After returning from army conscription in 1947 where I spent some 14 months attached to a field survey unit near a village called Fayid in the Canal zone in Egypt, I was unsettled and looked for greener pastures – other than Scotland – and ventured into deciding to try for a job abroad, in the printing industry.
Circumstances, (or were they divine coincidences) led to our arriving in Sydney in 1955, strangers in a strange land, no friends or family, with $200 in my pocket. Public phones and blue airmail letters our were means of communication, no computers, no skype and no mobiles. I say our because in very quick order, I fell in love with Moira, got married and we had a 6 week honeymoon on SS Otranto on our journey to Australia. For Moira it was a whirlwind love match and any thoughts of vulnerability or courage or risking the unknown, were secondary to being together.
Love is a supreme motivator with a sacrificial content. One only has to look at Jesus.
"People are looking for answers to life, often through reason or intellectual understandings - yet, there is more to life than meets the eye."
I think vulnerability could be described as an unreasonable impulse. One reacts on emotional ‘gut’ feelings rather than disseminating the facts and I guess that people who understand that possibility are themselves willing to risk the unknown. Particularly if you have experienced, or have been part of an experience that has no reasonable or rational explanation.
I believe that some people have ‘divine insight’. In Ireland it was described as having ‘The Sight’, while in Scotland, it is simply ‘Fey’. And because some people simply do not accept that premise, those people who are fey expose themselves to being vulnerable when sharing their experiences.
At my stage of life, I have come to understand the importance of experiencing serenity is to accept WHO you are.
I have found, particularly in the Christian church, people are looking for answers to life, often through reason or intellectual understandings - yet, there is more to life than meets the eye. The Divine Mystery is there calling people to venturesome unknowings and to me, this is the ultimate vulnerability.