The dictionary meaning of vulnerable is capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon. Or open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc. Ick.
Of course, no one wants or chooses to be vulnerable. We, as humans, prefer to be comfortable and safe. We don’t want to be attacked or injured or hurt. And we certainly don’t want to be left alone to fight off addiction, depression, immorality, and darkness. But I’ve heard the term “vulnerable” so often in such loose terms. It got me wondering, why is vulnerable so bad?
Yes, being hit in the arm with a metal bat, will hurt. Bad. And yes, being teased is eternally detrimental. But when we decide we will just close off our true feeling and hide our inner heart from the world to avoid being vulnerable, what are we really preventing ourselves from?
James 1:2 says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,…”
This verse is so perfectly ended to direct our attention. It is not, “if you face a couple trials”, or “you will have some trials, but they will be a piece of cake”. No, it tells us that we WILL face trials and that they will come in many shapes and sizes. There is just no avoiding it; even if you don’t tell anyone about your inner-most disappointments, failures, secrets, joys, and happiness.
I fear that many of us have “shut off” our ability to feel and connect, thus shutting off our ability to learn and believe.
James 1:2-4 continues, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Ahh, the good promise of bad things. You see? That’s what we are promised! We are promised that we WILL have troubles. We WILL be hurt and we WILL be tempted. But, in the end, we will have a faith strong enough to build bridges and move mountains.
Now, off the “soap” and preacher-box. My point is that I think we have become a people who feel “safer” by running with the crowd and blending in, rather than being a person full of their own ideas, thoughts, and wants. I worry that some people are afraid to wear their own fashion, even though it shows character and creativity. I worry that other people won’t let a new relationship in, even though it could be the relationship to save them. I worry that people will not trust any good news because it is usually followed by the bad.
I realize that hurt sometimes really, really hurts. Sometimes the hurt is so deep that taking a breath feels like a foreign activity. But the point is to look up and look forward and realize that strength is sprouting from those breaths; to realize that pain is temporary but strength is eternal. Someone can say a hurtful thing and bring some pain, but they can never take away the strength and knowledge you’ve gained.
I am a person who desires passion. I want to feel passion in my worship and faith, passion in my relationships, passion in my work, and passion in my hobbies. In order to have that passion, I have to be susceptible to hurt and pain. I could never experience truly amazing things without it. My best example is the day I jumped out of an airplane. Standing on the ground, I looked up at the other tiny bodies floating down from the heavens. They actually looked like little Barbie dolls-that’s how high up they were! I walk into my plane, a large “blanket” basically tied like a shoe to my back. As we soar above the mountains, I truly consider calling it a day and chalking it up to a great view. I became afraid of how bad the falling would hurt; or worse, the splatting on the ground would hurt. Instead, I chose to step up to the door-well, the whole in the plane where door used to exist-pray, count my blessings, and…dive. I dove! I was floating with the clouds! I was singing with the mountains! I was…falling at a rapid speed! Nearly 30 seconds later, my big blue blanket was hovering over me, saving me from shattering this pretty face into a millions pieces. I looked up with a very accomplished, I'm a bad-A feeling deep inside.
And to think, it was all because I chose to be…a lunatic, yes. But I also chose to take a risk and to jump. I chose to be open to new experiences, bigger adventures, and a thrilling passion. And today, I choose to be vulnerable. I choose to love with all my heart, and I choose to try and believe, and I choose to take any risk. I choose these things because I know what has been promised to me; maturity, joy, passion, love, and a complete life. I actually enjoy being vulnerable because I know that means I still feel the world around me. And it means I trust in my God to bring me through the trials.