Healthy Soul/Living Out Your Faith/My Life Beyond the Surface Level by Kelly Colangelo Killermanjaro. That is the name of the water slide that drops 280 feet in 12 seconds at 30 miles per hour. Yeah, it’s awesome… when you watch! I always preferred watching the action. So when it was my turn to go, I was pretty freaked out. I had to wait in line for an hour, get psyched, panic, scream, have someone push me down, more screaming, thrill (still screaming), and then relief and excitement once I was dropped beyond the surface of the pool. This water slide adventure reminds me of going deeper, taking risks, and moving beyond the surface level of our faith. However… that’s easier said than done. When I was growing up my parents always tried to draw more than a “yes” or “no” answer from me, but I was always afraid if I said anything more they might be critical of me. I felt the same way in my high school youth group. The small group leader always asked for something deeper when we were responding in discussion… but I held back, worried that others would judge me based on my comments or the experiences that I shared with them. For me, it’s always been, and still is a challenge to be vulnerable and not so critical of myself. I am the prime example of someone who strives be a strong, and independent person, not needing any help. But of course we all need help. Time and time again, God reminds me that it is through my brokenness that Christ’s love will penetrate into the depths of my heart. And, I have come to learn that it’s through our brokenness that we are able to know others better. If we don’t allow our vulnerabilities to show, then other people may think that we don’t need them or care about them. Pope Francis recently said, referring to Jesus, “You are immense, and you made yourself small, you are rich, and you made yourself poor; you are all-powerful and you made yourself vulnerable.” If Jesus made Himself vulnerable, why can’t we? We shouldn’t let our fear of another person’s response to us – or our fear of Christ’s response to us – prevent us from growing in our relationship with God. We need to be courageous and bold to speak up in small groups because what we say may enable someone else to grow in his or her relationship with God. Through prayer and good friends, I have learned that part of being vulnerable is showing my true self. If I’m afraid, I should say I’m afraid. If we are excited, we should say we are excited; if we are hurt, we should say so. We all know when reading the Psalms that they portray desperate, honest, and vulnerable cries for help. “From the depths of despair, O Lord, I call for your help” (Psalm 130:1). “O God, why have you rejected us so long?” (Psalm 74:1). ”Rescue me from the mud; don’t let me sink any deeper” (Psalm 69:14). To be vulnerable is to connect with others… to connect with Christ… to be real and to be vulnerable means for us to take risks and put ourselves out there so that we can go beyond the surface level. I challenge you this summer to not take these times of sharing for granted. These are special moments God has given you as a gift to grow closer to Him and to grow in community with others. Dive in.