Vulnerable [vuhl-ner-uh-buh l]. adj
1.Capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon
2. Open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc;
3. Open to assault; difficult to defend
Lately, I have been looking up the definitions of various words that I find people using everyday but not truly know its meaning. Someone ever ask you what a word means and you think you know or you have an example of what that words means but can’t truly explain or give a definition for it? Well, I think vulnerability is one of those words. We mostly think of being vulnerable when it comes to relationships. We hear things like, “you have to be open and vulnerable in order for the relationship to work.” But for me when I hear this word, I think of: being hurt, exposed, defenseless and an ultimate recipe for disaster. I think of it like a soldier going into battle and having no weapon at all.
Prior to college, I had never been truly vulnerable with anyone. I am naturally a very guarded person. I keep everyone about two arms length away from me. I don’t trust easily and anything you know about me is something could care less if anyone knows. There are few people who I have allowed to see some of the weakest and most broken parts of me. But I remember my first year in college falling in love. I found myself being completly vulnerable with this person. My heart, my soul, my mind and my spirit were completly open. I’d decoded everything about myself to this person and I truly did put myself in a position to be hurt but at the core of who I am, I am love and I am light. So I assumed that the kind of love and openness I was giving would somehow protect me from this person ever hurting me. It didn’t. I was hurt. I was lied to. I felt rejected in so many ways. That was the first time I learned that loving someone means giving them the power to hurt you. I never wanted to love again after that. So for years I held on to that person, even though I knew what hurt it brought sometimes. But for some reason, I’d convince myself that I would rather stay there, in that same spot because at least I knew what I would be getting myself into. At least I wouldn’t have to face another human being and give them the power to do that to me again. Vulnerability became something I vowed I would never have with anyone. Because the pain, the rejection and hurt I felt in that season is one that broke my heart, broke my spirit and made me question how in the world did I not see this coming. I hated myself. I hated myself for not asking more questions. I hated myself for being so trusting, so naive and stupid. I hated him but the hate I felt towards myself was greater than that so how I felt towards didn’t even matter. That’s what being vulnerable can do to you. It can give life to rejection, anger, hate, distrust and self-doubt if that vulnerability isn’t returned.
When I walked away from that relationship, I thought I was finished but it’s funny how you can think you are done with a situation but that situation isn’t done with you. Even though I left, I still never dealt with the hurt and the rejection properly. I still never got that apology I felt I needed to move on I guess. So when other people hurt me, betray me or make me feel rejected… I remembered that relationship. I remembered how I felt there. I remembered the sting of vulnerability. And I remembered how stupid I was and felt then. So I try to become cold and withdrawn from people. Never letting anyone get too close. Notice I said I tried. It never worked. Because I would sit there and forgive everyone around me. I would make excuses for why they hurt me. I would convince myself that this was all my fault. That maybe I wasn’t good enough. That maybe I didn’t know what it meant to truly love and care for someone and that’s why those people did what they did to me. Because no rational person would forgive those people who so easily hurt and lie to you. So I would say to myself, “No rational person would still look for the good in those people. No rational person loves the way you do Lise. You’re doing this to yourself.” And that’s when I heard that ever so gentle, loving whisper, “My love is not rational my child. You cannot hate your heart for its ability to forgive and love even in the darkest moment because I created that heart. I gave you that heart to do those things so people know what my unconditional love, forgiveness and grace feels like in human form even though my Son is no longer there on earth. I have given you a gift. A gift to love and to be vulnerable with people beyond measure. It’s a gift that will bring hurt and disappointment sometimes but I am strong within you. You must be vulnerable with me first above anyone else. Because it is I that will show you the power and beauty in vulnerability. For it is a good thing. It is your vulnerability that will bring people to me. It is your vulnerability that will be a sweet sweet fragrance to bring those broken back home because they will see Me in you.” Talk about God being so faithful and true.
See vulnerability in the natural realm is more hurtful than not. At least for me it was. But I learned three very important lessons:
- God requires us to be vulnerable but we need to align ourselves with His ways and discernment to know who deserves that vulnerability from us
- The rejection you feel after your vulnerability has been betrayed does not mean you aren’t good enough. It does not mean you are weak or stupid or naive. It just means that someone failed to notice the God in you and what you had to offer and that’s okay because maybe God never intended them too.
- Focus on being vulnerable with God first, the creator of our heart, because true vulnerability, nakedness and intimacy with Him will always bring forth good fruit and you’ll see what He sees in yourself and in others. He will never abandon you or make a fool or you.
So vulnerability, though its definition seems harsh, isn’t always a bad thing. It just requires a level of discernment and approval from God to do what its supposed to do. As Christians being vulnerable is supposed to humanize you. It’s supposed to allow God’s strength to manifest in your weakness. It supposed to show people that you know the risk of being vulnerable but you know that because of God, you are never truly defenselessness and open to attack. Being vulnerable with someone, does not mean being weak. It means being able to show your heart and your weakness but rejoicing in the fact that God is made strong through all of our weakness. Vulnerability is strength. Vulnerability is courage. Vulnerability is truth.