Have you ever found yourself distracted from the busy-ness of life and before you know it a month or two has passed? That’s what the past month has been like for me – it’s been full, productive, event-full and in many respects insightful.
The truth is that no matter how much we like to kid ourselves, none of us have it all-together. We all have our limitations. We all have times when we need to stop and rest. I’ve been reminded of that in several environments and in close relationships in recent weeks. The culmination of which has caused me to reflect much on what it means to be vulnerable, to give of ourselves to another, whether in work, play or friendship. I know a little about vulnerability. I know a little about the challenges to love.
I’ve recently returned from participating in a retreat group with some amazing men. At the end of our three-year cycle together several of the participants wrote these words:
Your vulnerability stands in delightful contrast to your obvious wisdom and insight into spiritual, group dynamic, and personal/emotional matters for others. I love your ability to see beneath. There is a great strength in your ability to be deeply vulnerable at the same time as leading with insight.
You have had to wrestle for everything you have. In fact, if you haven’t wrestled then what is achieved is of little value or worth.
The rawness of your pain and your directness and honesty is a refining fire for me. As has been said ‘pat answers’ don’t survive with you around and gives life and reality…at the same time you bring a heart warming and affirming gentleness and smiling warmth that is so full of affection. I need what you bring…
What does it mean to be vulnerable with ourselves, with others, and with a Creative God?
Knowing and being known. To disclose oneself means being self-aware, being emotionally aware, it means being vulnerable and recognising strength within that.
To be vulnerable, whilst risky, does not necessarily mean leaving oneself exposed for exploitation, nor does it mean being undiscerning in sharing. Vulnerability isn’t a weakness – quite the opposite. It takes true inner strength, courage and maturity to be vulnerable. Vulnerability creates space for growth and healing.
Vulnerability is not about leaving oneself exposed for others to stample all over you, to mistreat you or take advantage of you. Let’s face it, there are plenty of people who easily use our vulnerability negatively or for their own gain. It takes wisdom to know who to avoid in this regard. Vulnerability is me choosing to share who I am, my fears, my failures, my foibles, fuck ups, my future hopes/dreams and aspirations. Do I choose to open myself to others or do I stay closed and shut off?
The ultimate act of vulnerability is to love.
“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.”
― Brené Brown
Being vulnerable with another is risky business! Being able to share our deeper thoughts and feelings comes from finding peace within myself, being content with who I am. It means being fully present in the moment, attuned to what is happening in me, in response to me, and in the dynamic that is relationship with another. Being vulnerable gives others permission to be vulnerable. As someone who holds to be a follower of Jesus this means being attuned to God’s Spirit prompting myself, and in others.
Vulnerability means accepting myself and loving myself, in spite of myself. It’s allowing myself to be truly authentic and embrace who I am in the moment, as a child of God.
There is no need of vulnerable defensiveness with God. In the midst of my own doubts, fears, anger, and my questions that cause me to wrestle with God, I’ve found that He is big enough, gentle enough, gracious and loving enough. I continue to learn that he cares too much for me to hide my true self from him. My challenge is to neither hide my true self from myself, nor from others. Vulnerability exposes the shadow of shame.
To be vulnerable is a choice to love, to love ourselves with authenticity. It is only from this place that we can seek to offer love, our own vulnerability to others. How do you go with being vulnerable?