A few instances in the past week left me feeling especially vulnerable:
Disclosing some hard things to a friend, receiving pained words from a child, a new unknown surfacing in our future.
Enough of these in a short period have me paying attention to how I respond to vulnerability.
My mouth feels dry. My heart picks up pace. Like mindlessly flipping through the pages of a catalog, my mind scans through possible pathways out of this vulnerable state. I replay the conversation, wondering if I could’ve said it differently. I imagine future scenarios, thinking that planning for the future means a secure future.
All of this can happen in 3 minutes or less. And then I’m on to the rest of my day: picking up legos and pulling the meat out of the freezer for dinner and watering the half-dead succulents.
I’m not too fond of feeling vulnerable — that feeling of exposing a fresh wound to the simplest elements of wind and water. I’ve written several chapters in my books about vulnerability as our inroad to conversation with God, and yet I still notice how much I resist it.
Several times a week: I feel vulnerable — and I push through and past that feeling.
But recently I saw His invitation through my three-year-old. Virginia holds no pretense. She cries a few times a day, though I still call her my “bundle of joy.” The child is full of delight, but she feels. She checks in with me minutes after Nate gets her out of bed and dresses her. She climbs into my lap without asking. She stubs her toe, falls off of her bike, or sees a flash of lightning outside her window, and her first response is to shriek, “Mommy!” or “Daddy!”
Her world is tethered to me: out to explore, back to Mom, out to experience, return to Mom’s lap, out to chase curiosity, exhale in Mom’s safe arms.
Virginia is vulnerable all day long. Bumblebees and thunderclouds and rickety tricycle wheels disrupt her felt strength. So, she returns … to Nate or me. Every time.
She hasn’t learned to drive through, to ignore what scares her or hurts her.
I might not be so suspicious of bolstering up in the face of vulnerability if I didn’t have four children we adopted, whose little years didn’t include that tether. Thunderclouds may have sent the same panic through their toddler-spines, but without a course of action for those vulnerable moments … they flailed.
Kind of like you and me … maybe?
During a time where most everyone in your world and mine is newly vulnerable in some way, I suggest this: rather than push harder, double-down, press through … what if we cry?
Bite your lip, sit on the floor, and let yourself unfurl.
Lay on your bed and feel what you’ve been racing to un-feel.
Open your Bible and ask Him questions*, rather than coaching yourself with what you think are His answers.
“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3
Were we ever intended to grow out of the vulnerability that childhood proposes — the humility of needing a Father?
I figured that if I write all these book chapters about vulnerability and meeting God in our weak places — and STILL I need a fresh reminder that I am like my three-year-old and He is offering to hold me tight … you might need the same reminder.
Vulnerability (oh that buzz word) only becomes a gift when it brings us back to His lap.
Vulnerability disarms me so that I can find Him – the safest thing I will ever know.