“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
- C.S. Lewis
Yesterday I had an insightful conversation with a mentor of mine. Usually a mentor is one who imparts wisdom into a mentee but yesterday I stepped out in courage and told him that he was getting in the way of his own genius. Ouch. I told him (in a gentle way of course) that I felt like sometimes he gets stuck in the way he sees himself and it took a lot of courage for me to point that out and help him "walk off the ledge" metaphorically speaking.
As we talked, we processed the difference between vulnerability and transparency. For most people, transparency is really quite easy. We share our "feelings"... We share our experiences... we share what we saw in that moment and that's that. But vulnerability goes far deeper than that. It invites the listener to participate in the healing process that we are currently in. Vulnerability allows others to be invited into the darkest parts of our soul without the certainty we will get it back.
One of the reasons why it is so hard for people to be vulnerable with each other is that we have often been scarred some point in our journey. We shared a deep secret with a friend and rather than having your confidant help you process and step into your journey, they took your very words and crushed them like a pestle and mortar or advertised your weakness on social media through photos or blog posts. You see, we're all victims to vulnerability hijacking. Once upon a time, someone came and told you they were safe but rather than sitting on your plane on the journey you were on, they took over the controls and crashed them into the ocean to leave no evidence behind.
We're scared aren't we? We're a people in desperate need of vulnerability. We are a people who desperately need to be vulnerable to others.
So how do we overcome this? If you're like me, there are very few people who are willing to go with me in the way of vulnerability. I believe that the key to vulnerability is a spirit of generosity. Often times we think of generosity as money or finances or talents being donated for time, but generosity can also be stepping into someone's story and letting them be who they are. Rather than trying to fix them, we say, "I see you, and I believe in you." Rather than shaking our fingers in disapproval, we invite them into the living room of our hearts and say, "You're safe here, rest as long as you need, because I see you..."