Vulnerability: Not for the Faint of Heart

Janel Coughran, class of 2006

Eleven years ago, as a sophomore in college, I joined the Lighthouse worship team. Even though I was on percussion scholarship, I was unbelievably anxious about playing in front of people. My insecurities were at an all-time high.  But with the support of the team and the community, they diminished as I worshipped. It was incredible. Playing drums on the worship team opened deep communion with God for me and I believe He used me to lead others into His presence in worship as well.

And then my body betrayed me. I developed excruciating pain in my forearms and couldn’t play anymore – not on the worship team, not for my scholarship, nothing. I remember praying asking why God took away how I served the community and personally worshipped. I felt betrayed, hurt and confused. It didn’t make any sense.

I was forced to “take a break.”  I suddenly had a LOT more free and found myself hanging out with more Lighthouse friends.  I became a student intern and in the next two years, and God showed me the meaning of grace.

It started small. I had to learn to let people help me carry things and allow myself breaks from work. I had always prided myself on working hard and not needing any help. Through my physical difficulty, I began to realize that my theology depended on me proving to Jesus that I could do it on my own.  Accepting help from the Lighthouse community allowed me to accept help from God.

My junior year, I helped lead a team to Thailand.  In the interview process, I couldn’t say the word “vulnerable.”  Something about the syllables never came out right. On the trip, I allowed myself to be truly open and vulnerable for the first time. The team surrounded me, helped me, loved me and showed me that in my brokenness, I am still loved by the Community of Christ. I have never struggled saying “vulnerability” ever again.

My undiagnosed chronic pain has spread and it’s now been over a decade. It has not been easy and I still question God about it from time to time. But when I think about it, I know that without the pause I had from “Christian activity,” I never would have expe
rienced the depth of Christ’s love, shown to me by a community to whom I will be forever grateful.

Through God’s grace, the Lighthouse community and TCM changed my life.

I am grateful to anyone who’s ever supported TCM or has been a part of the community. You made it into the life-giving force that I needed. Thank you.  It is my prayer that this community continues to show God’s grace and love to all those who encounter it, for it truly is life-giving.