How can there be power in vulnerability? By definition, vulnerable means to be susceptible to physical or emotional attack. In fact, the word "powerless" is a synonym for vulnerable. So, where does power come from in vulnerability?
To make myself clear, I am in no way encouraging or endorsing anyone intentionally put themselves in harm's way, particularly with regard to abusive relationships. My intent is to present a perspective on living life after being hurt. There is a tendency after pain (physical or emotional) to want to protect and take precautions so as to never feel that hurt again. Makes sense because well, pain sucks. However, a life void of pain is no life at all.
Without pain there is no growth, we would know nothing of love or living. We go through teething pain as babies, growing pains through our young lives, skinned knees, broken hearts and more without which life would be much more difficult and meaningless. Choosing to insulate ourselves deeper and deeper in a cocoon of protection weakens our character, puts unnecessary restraints on our lives, and limits our life experience to while we try to prevent experiencing pain. If we limit our exposure to pain we will also limit our experience of joy. Additionally, we increase in sensitivity and are more easily hurt. We become emotional haemophiliacs needing to shelter ourselves from any potential discomfort.
This is not living life; it is rather allowing others who either intentionally, neglectfully or out of ignorance caused physical or emotional injury to us, to control the course of our lives. We may not feel that hurt anymore, wrapped in our blanket of protection, but the infliction continues when we no longer live the lives for which we were created. Pain has a purpose in life. When we experience great emotional pain over the loss of a loved one it is because we have loved well and been loved well. It should hurt. How do we know when we are sick? Because we know what healthy feels like. These hurts and pains are evidence that we know joy, love, health and peace.
An athlete whose uniform is pristine and hair is flawless after a game, most likely didn't participate. Sure, they didn't feel the pain of being tackled or the embarrassment of having a pass intercepted but they also have no chance of knowing the exhilaration of breaking a tackle and scoring a touchdown, or the joy completing a pass in a crucial situation. When I've played sports I always want to leave the field or court sweaty, a little banged up and my uniform filthy, that way I knew I was in the game. I had a friend who was second string on our football team and after a game he didn't play in, he ran out and slid in the dirt and grass. We asked, "What are you doing, man?" He said, "I want my mom to at least think I played today." We all laughed. The beautiful thing about life is, there is no "second string". We are all first-stringers and at the top of our depth chart. If a first-string player takes his or herself out of the game to prevent hurt or humiliation, there is no chance for the thrill of victory or even the challenge of competition.
The power of vulnerability means living life on our terms. Yes, I can and probably will get hurt again, but I'm not going to stop living and loving. Having good people around us to help pick us up and dust us off is vital. We also need to recognize, even those good people can hurt or fail us. We should learn from our pains and prepare to try to prevent unnecessary injury, not running headlong into an oncoming truck, but realizing with the pursuit of pleasure there will be pain. If we cloak ourselves in bubble-wrap we may avoid the sorrow of future heartbreak, but we'll never know the warmth of holding a loving hand.
God did not create the sparrow to stay in the warm safety of its eggshell nor were we designed to remain in the womb. We can celebrate a life lived through tragedy and pain or mourn and regret a life not lived.
About Brad Alexander
Brad and his wife, Bernadette, have lived in Alaska for 27 years raising their three children. Outside of work, Brad enjoys his family, faith, fishing and photography (not always in that order). He is an associate pastor with a heart for serving the needy. He has found writing to be a great way to express himself.