Vulnerability, love, and stories worth living.

To love is to be vulnerable.

(C.S. Lewis)

This makes my skin crawl a little. I feel a tightening in my chest. My breath gets shorter. I see my internal self backed into a tight, restrictive corner. And I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am afraid of what this means and requires. Even more, I am aware that I have not practiced its truth – at least in complete and expansive ways.

My life holds stories in which I have longed for this – both love expressed and vulnerability shown – to no avail. My life holds stories in which I have been the one who has withheld; yes, both love and vulnerability. But my life also holds stories in which both of these have occurred simultaneously; in which I have known levels of vulnerable risk and vulnerable safety; in which I have been given and offered love.

This is the both/and of life: stories of disappointment that invite us to deeper levels of vulnerability and even more tenacious hope. Stories of such ecstasy and joy that we cannot help but risk dangerously again and again for more of the same.

This is the both/and of all good stories. Rich, gorgeous, juicy stories. The kind we love to sink our teeth and souls into. The kind we find ourselves in. The kind we lose ourselves in. The kind we live in every day. If we but will.

To live in measured, tenuous ways will never invite such narrative. And to live without vulnerability, though seemingly far more balanced and safe, will prevent us from knowing either the depths or heights of love.

Vulnerability is unnerving. Life is risky. Love even more so.

And?

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    { 6 comments… read them below or add one }

    Jeanette September 8, 2011 at

    Ronna, I adore you. Thank you for constantly reminding me of the things that I already know. It’s been a vulnerable week – and it’s tempting when things end to label them ‘not worth it’. I need to remember that it’s always worth it. Thank you.

    Jeanette

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick September 8, 2011 at

    Yes. Always worth it. We just can’t always see such when we’re in the thick of it. Perspective. Life lessons. Time. Grace. And then there’s that ongoing willingness to be vulnerable.

    So grateful for your words – and your presence, Jeanette.

    Reply

    Kate September 12, 2011 at

    The timing of this is perfect! That tightening in the chest is all to familiar right now…
    Brene Brown’s TED talk (http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html) has always been my go-to vulnerability inspiration, but I love seeing other’s thoughts on it. Thanks!

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick September 12, 2011 at

    I won’t complain about being in the same context as Brene. Thanks, Kate.

    Reply

    James November 28, 2011 at

    From this one man’s perspective (and I hate to be pragmatic about this . . . but) to be close is to be open. To be open is to be vunerable. It is inherent in the definition of vunerability. The issue at heart here, I think, is trust. If you trust that I have your best interest at heart, then you will be open but vunerable. This openess increases the potential for being hurt. But, then without openess one cannot truly know enough to allow for the trust to build or for the closeness one desires, which results in the love one desires. To know me is to love me, really. I will take the risk of being hurt (and, trust me I have been hurt) because without love my life ceases to be meaningful and purposeful. Christ endured the epitomy of vunerability when He died on the cross for the likes of this world. And, not knowing who would accept His sacrifice, He took that risk because it was the only way. Ergo, God is love.

    Reply

    Ronna Detrick November 29, 2011 at

    We’re trackin’ James. I appreciate your perspective and your courage to speak your truth!

    Reply

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