Yours truly, Vulnerability
Hi again friends!, It seems I've been reintroduced to the world by a phenomenal qualitative researcher who has written books documenting my importance and she travels the nation speaking on my behalf, how exciting for you? I'm not just an idea anymore, it seems I've become a movement among millennials and baby boomers alike ... at least the ones who choose to look up from whatever device they're using to engage with the world. I'm so glad the world has chosen to embrace me again, and not because I was bored hanging out in Idea Land with all my other Idea friends that you aren't embracing ... but I know how important I am for your well-being and your communication with your people and your growth as creatives and dreamers and, well, as human beings. I know my worth, you might say. Fancy that. I'm so glad you're back, I'm so glad we're back in this fight together.
Now that we've established how excited I am about being back in your life and about being an active force uniting and reuniting communities in the world, I'd like to take a moment to embody myself. Hi, I'm Vulnerability. Recently brilliant scholars and authors have given me a platform on which I have been allowed to rise to overnight stardom and because I know my value I know this to be true, if I am to maintain my place on the world's stage I must be willing to be seen. It's Bravery but it's also an opportunity to make known all the aspects of who I am so that you embrace all of me, not just one ... which leads to Resentment when someone unwilling or not ready to listen crosses your path and resentment then enters the picture and thus my 15 minutes of stardom has ended. Please understand, friend, that this isn't about my stardom ... this is about you knowing how to fully embrace me, continually, to walk with me through life and to learn how to be Brave with me in the face of Adversity and Failure and Challenge and even Regret.
For years the general public has embraced one's ability to "Stonewall" in the face of adversity, not knowing the breakdown that happened behind closed doors. "Look at the Strength on that guy," they'd say, which meant that Strength was largely defined as a "stoic response in a time of trial, not letting the trial shape the man," or at least as "the ability to keep going no matter what, not needing to stop for conversation about the trial." The Truth is, I'd agree with those definitions to an extent. But the degree that you resist talking to someone about what you're facing is the force with which you will eventually meet the end of your emotional rope, and there I'll be... waiting. Because revealing your issues and struggles to safe people who you know you can trust is the definition of Bravery and Vulnerability. Being willing to be seen, knowing that you are completely out of control of the response of the other person once your story is in the arena and being willing to hear their heart ... that's Bravery ... that's Vulnerability ... that's Strength building. The willingness to listen to Empathy, Sympathy, Love, and Truth that holds you accountable ... that's Strength building. Hiding your precious heart in a mausoleum while it's still beating and watching the muscle atrophy before your very eyes under the guise that showing the world how strong you are means that you need to put on a face of perfection ... that's just dying a slow death and the sad part is that you know it. "When we numb the darkness, we numb the light," says Brene Brown. She also says that "Where we struggle with perfectionism, we struggle with shame." Please friend, find safe people ... find a therapist, find someone who you can trust in your church who understands that Grace and Mercy and Self-Worth are real, weave yourself into the fabric of your spaces and know that your spaces are purposed for you and know that I'm here for you to embrace.
We can't ONLY stand on the stage, though. People will eventually tire of getting phone calls just to hear about us, although they will appreciate your new-found practice in Vulnerability. So what other forms do I take, you ask? Well for starters I cross the street, I sit on the other side of the table ... and I listen. You know those stories that are really hard to hear because they make your heart hurt in ways that you haven't felt in years? You know, the ones you try to give rational answers to the storyteller because it makes you feel better about how you would handle it if it happened to you on "this side of history"? The ones that leave you crying streams of tears over Mexican food dishes in the corner booth in the bar with your friend because she just can't find her song anymore because life has just knocked her around like a pinball and it doesn't seem to be stopping any time soon? Sometimes I look like Empathy, because sometimes sitting next to Sadness leaves us open to emotions and feelings. [ If I weren't Graceful this is where I would interject a snide comment like, "But Heaven forbid you FEEL anything, right humans?" But I am ... sometimes ... and sometimes I sting so good it hurts because I make you realize you're actually alive. You're welcome.] I once overheard one of my human's conversation's with a friend of hers and she asked him what to tell a girl who was hurting. "Sometimes you just have to sit next to people like Sadness sits next to Joy on the movie "Inside Out," you know? I think that's what Jesus does. I think He sits with us and He hurts for us and with us and Love us back to life." ... Well, it was something like that ... but that's exactly what I looks like. Please don't be Afraid to let your Joy be impacted by someone else's Sadness and in the process leave them in the pit of Despair, that is not Love. That is a lack of Love.
The other Truth that you absolutely must know about me is that my fists are unclenched, they are open and active and doing and Creative and Risk-Taking. Why? How? I come alongside Bravery, I embrace Risk because I believe in the Worth of the vision, I understand that Fear is a liar, and I lock arms with Courage ... fully understanding that the liars will attempt to come barreling through at any moment to try to tell us that we aren't Worthy or that we'll never be good enough or that our story has already been written by another more established artist or author. YOU AND I, HUMAN, WE ARE NOT JUST GOOD ENOUGH ... WE WERE BORN FOR THIS. GET UP. COME ON. LET'S GO. WE HAVE WORK TO DO. THIS IS YOUR CALL TO ACTION. People are going to see us when we step out into the arena, but as our principal researcher, Brene Brown, so eloquently says, "If you're not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I'm not interested in your feedback." (Pardon her French, those who just got offended. I'm sure she's not sorry, though ... because you know you just got a rush of gumption out of that one statement so really, you're welcome.)
I am STRENGTH. I am BRAVERY. I am COURAGE. I am RISK. I am EMPATHY and the willingness to cross the street and to FEEL on behalf of others. I am the thing that is standing between you and an incredibly colorful and bright future, begging you to embrace me and hold me tightly and exercise with me everyday. So will you? Will you walk with me and let me be your Strength training coach? Will you let me set you free, prisoner? We have work to do on that atrophying heart muscle because it is meant for so much more, and so are you. I Love you and I see you and I want this life for you that is on the other side of Comfort. Please, take my hand.