The Issue of Vulnerability
Vulnerability is a word that carries a multitude of presuppositions and assumptions. At it’s nature vulnerability is a loaded word, because it has so many connotations. Because of common incorrect or incomplete definitions of vulnerability people fear it, despise it, or dismiss it as unimportant.
The idea of vulnerability terrifies people. So many people view vulnerability as complete self-disclosure, which causes fear of judgement. Many of us are afraid that our struggles and secrets will be misunderstood, or even completely rejected. Often, people see vulnerability as a form of weakness. Trusting others is seen as being incapable of carrying your own burdens.
However, vulnerability is strength. It is the strength to have enough humility to admit your inadequacy, and to surrender your need to be enough. Vulnerability is trusting others to receive the part of yourself that you feel you need to share with them. It is not complete self-disclosure and admittance of faults, but it is being willing to open yourself to any person you encounter, and to share yourself with them.
I’m here to tell you, vulnerability is anything but easy. There’s never a “safe” option, and it always comes with risks. But it’s not only hard, scary, and unpredictable, it’s also the key to connection. Vulnerability takes away the power of isolation, which is the biggest attack that the enemy uses on your mind. If you feel alone you automatically feel defeated, and when you’re defeated you have no plans of getting up and fighting the thing holding you down.
I have always had a natural tendency toward vulnerability, as a relationally strong person. However, throughout my life I have built walls blocking my vulnerability as a result of hurt or insecurity. I invented an image which defined my idea of success and as a result I built a façade for myself. Through the years, many things I have learned and pain that i’ve walked through has reenforced that idea of “success” and “perfection” which I aspired toward. I began to measure my self worth in my “success”, in meeting the standards I had set for myself.
Stuck in the cycle of comparison and perfectionism, I was unable to escape alone. I felt as though I was the only one falling short. No one seemed to see my inadequacy but myself, and I felt as though they’d never empathize with my struggle. Only when I began to share the place of insecurity that I was walking through, and when I found community to support me in my brokenness was I able to begin to seek healing and wholeness.
“In order for connection to happen we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.” -Brene Brown
Vulnerability isn’t an end, nor is it just part of the process. Vulnerability IS the process. Openness is the key to real, raw relationship. Without true vulnerability there is not true connection. In order to know others you must first allow yourself to be known, that’s where empathy and trust is built.
The prospect of vulnerability carries fear, and reasonably so. However, you will only reap wholeness when you let go of your brokenness, when you share yourself, both good and bad, with others. It starts small, but slowly vulnerability can be learned with yourself, with others, and with God. And when you learn vulnerability you learn healing.
Vulnerability is strength.