Be sure to keep yourself vulnerable…
Make sure you expose yourself emotionally….
Place yourself in situations in which you can make sure that you can be hurt.
Do people tell you these things often? You have probably never had those things said to you because we live in a world of minimizing hurt, damage, and exposure.
I believe that our ability to expose our hearts is an important component of being emotionally and spiritually healthy. Let me tell you why.
First, let’s do a test of opposites. I will list a word and you fill in the blank with the opposite:
- Black __________
- Dark __________
- Day __________
- Love __________
What did you fill in for the opposite of Love? Did you use the word hate? Hate is not the right answer…the right answer is apathy.
There was a time in my life when I would have said that hate was the opposite of love too. But that was before I personally witnessed my two adopted children protect themselves at the cost of everything I believe to be most important.
My youngest two children were adopted from Russia when they were 4 and 9 years old. They were not orphans – they had been removed from their birth family due to neglect and abandonment. As you might imagine, they have experienced some difficulties in their lives.
They, of course, are not the only ones who have ever been through difficult life circumstances. However, their choices and behaviors strongly reflect what they experienced in those years prior to our adoption of them.
Our adopted children spent more time in our home with our love and influence than they spent in their birth country of Russia. However, I can assure you that the influence of those initial years has heavily outweighed the influence we have been able to have. As family and friends have watched our family struggle to help our adoptive children the frequent suggestion has been that we just need to give them more love.
I was once blessed with the experience of re-visiting heaven. I saw there the preparations that were being made for each of us to come to earth. I also saw that even there where our perfect Father in Heaven reigns and where His perfect love infuses everything present there – that God and His perfect plan for this earth was rejected by a large number of his spirit children. So even where perfect love dwells – love was not enough.
My adopted children have found that guarding themselves against hurt, rejection and vulnerability is the easiest way to make sure they never are hurt, rejected or vulnerable again. What that means is that they shut out family, loving relationships, and even passions and interests they might have.
Imagine what your life would be life if you made sure, at all costs, that you were not vulnerable. There would be no truly loving relationships – only manipulative ones. You couldn’t have any goals because you might fail in reaching those goals. Excitement and passion would be taboo because those emotions would make you too open to failure or disappointment.
I am not suggesting that we deliberately set ourselves up to be hurt but I understand now how wonderful and amazing it is to be vulnerable!
By being vulnerable I can love (even when I might get hurt), I can get excited about goals and future events that I want to happen in my life and I can embrace the talents and passions that I have – even when it might mean I will experience failure and disappointment. I can imagine and what I imagine can become a reality – all because I am willing to expose myself to whatever outcome may result.
Everything that I hold dear is a result of my willingness to allow myself to be accessible, susceptible and vulnerable – my marriage, my family, my friends and everything that I am passionate about!
So while I would never suggest that we intentionally seek hurt and pain – I hope you will join me in recognizing what a gift having an open heart and being vulnerable is!