Gail Oliver Cambridge | March 1, 2021
Recently, it seems to me that everyone is talking about vulnerability. Perhaps, it’s because I have been watching more shows during the lockdown and have often seen people exposing their vulnerability. There are many meanings of the word, but, in this context, I am referring to people who are completely open, sharing their full range of emotions.
While I expect people to open up with someone they trust, I’m often surprised by how much some of them share with the world. So, sometimes I take what they say lightly because I am not convinced of their true motives. Nevertheless, I do acknowledge the benefits of being vulnerable. A few of you know that I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve and tend not to do a lot of emotional sharing. However, I have revealed a great deal to you over the years, even as I debated…hmmm, should I, maybe, maybe not – lol!
How about you? Do you open up to those in your inner circle, and if so, how are you received? Contemplating whether or not to share and with whom can be overwhelming. In some instances, people don’t want to hear what you have to say because it makes them uncomfortable. They may feel they have to respond in kind, or believe they have to do something with the information, or just can’t handle what you’ve shared. Imagine yourself telling a friend, “I love you,” and the response, “Ah hmm I umm….” A dear colleague told me, “This would make me think twice before expressing myself again!”
What about when someone opens up to you, how do you respond? Sometimes people just want to be heard and are seeking a simple validation of their feelings; other times, they may be crying out for help. There are many examples, from mothers talking about not being able to bond with their newborn babies or those who are overwhelmed with raising their children to both men and women opening up about their childhood trauma. We can all learn from each other when we come forward and speak our truth.
Being emotionally vulnerable is certainly risky and some of us may have even been burned by a betrayal. However, is that a reason to be closed off? My being brave to share, and your willingness to engage, triggers a discussion that benefits us both. There is beauty in the freeing of one’s soul—a relief to get it all out in the open, darn the consequences! It’s not important what anyone thinks or says. What matters is displaying inner strength and thus being open to new connections and possibilities.
Those of you who know of the Apostle Paul can attest to his vulnerability in the way he turned from following the religious doctrine and embraced Christ. What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So, I quit being a “law man” so that
I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. (Galatians 2:19-20 MSG)