Vulnerability: Monster or Friend

Vulnerability is not just an idea, it’s an experience. For some, vulnerability enters into our lives like a scene from a horror movie. The movie’s scene shifts to the dark woods, a campsite. Music on the radio is blaring, you and your friends are dancing and sitting around with intentions to feed your cravings. The lighting goes dim. The radio continues to play but the horror music kills or muffles all sound. Boom! Vulnerability kicks down the door, and moves slowly toward you like a monster with its arms outstretched, hands pointed downard, its straight legs taking long lumbering strides, and it’s remorseless eyes fixed on you as its target. Most of us run from it. It is ugly because it causes us to make a decision to fight or take flight. All of us experience vulnerability, all of us experience vulnerability to some degree or another.

A Definition of Vulnerability

Vulnerability is, like my good friend Chris Bouch says, exposure. Like most words and ideas, a dozen definitions for vulnerability exists. But, my mind settles upon this one. Vulnerability is exposure. I don’t know if this is a brand new take on vulnerability, but I think this perspective based upon my experiences and background will give this conversation some freshness. Vulnerability is to willfully say no to yourself and to position yourself to be susceptible to physical, mental, and/or emotional harm. 

Areas of Vulnerability

Vulnerability is all around us; we all live through it. Although I practice no religion, I appreciate the stories told about Jesus who practiced vulnerability exquisitely. Vulnerability for Jesus is self sacrifice without expecting anything in return. Self sacrifice.

Vulnerability is all around us; we all live through it. I am a parent of two beautiful daughters. Vulnerability is a parent who tucks their child(ren) into their beds in the darkness of the night, or when a parent neglects to buy themselves new shoes or renovate their kitchen because they long for their children to involve themselves in extracurricular things to enrich and enhance their lives when that money could have been used for other things. Self sacrifice.

Vulnerability is all around us; we all live through it. I’ve been married for nearly two decades. Vulnerability is when a woman strokes her significant other’s face and says, “I love you” for the first time or for the one millionth time. To love is a vulnerable dance. Self sacrifice.

Accept Vulnerability

Vulnerability is all around us; we all live through it. I live with vulnerability daily. Will you do something that may scare you? Don’t run out of the room while the monster lumbers your way. Stand still. Turn and face it. Who knows, vulnerability may not be a monster it might actually be something coming to you in order to ask in a childlike voice, “Wanna be friends?”

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