By Katherine DeCoste
We’ve all experienced that feeling. A sinking in our stomach, a lump in our throat, tears springing to our eyes. We’ve been let down, disappointed, rejected.
Maybe we’ve been tempted to think, 'I’m never putting myself in that situation again,' 'I never want to get hurt again,' or 'It’s not worth it.”
Vulnerability is dangerous! We open ourselves up, perhaps in a friendship, a new relationship, an opportunity in ministry or in the workplace, with the risk of being let down. Sometimes, it feels like there is no point in making ourselves vulnerable. Isn’t it safer, easier, to keep our hearts closed and never get hurt?
Not too long ago, I was in a situation almost exactly like this one. I opened my heart up, only to feel rejected. I wondered why God would let me experience this horrible feeling. I thought it would be safer to close up my heart.
C. S. Lewis tells us, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to be sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken: it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
Vulnerable Like Christ
To love at all is to be vulnerable. To love and live as Christ did, we have to take the step. We have to open our hearts.
Jesus isn’t asking us to deliberately hurt ourselves. If you’ve been in a relationship of abuse and mistreatment, He isn’t calling you to continually put yourself back into that situation. Don’t confide in a friend who is known for spreading gossip.
But…maybe there’s a friend you’ve been wanting to confide in, but you’ve been stopped by your pride. Maybe you have an opportunity to share your gifts in ministry, but you’ve hesitated out of the fear of not being good enough. Maybe God is inviting you into a deeper relationship with somebody, but your past wounds are stopping you from taking the leap.
Christ made Himself vulnerable to us. Look to the Cross! That is the ultimate picture of vulnerability, the ultimate picture of love. If we want to be like Him, we must imitate His vulnerability. We have to lay down our lives. How can we do this if we are constantly worried about getting hurt?
Vulnerable To Christ
Jesus Christ is calling us into a relationship with Himself. Have we entered fully into this relationship? Or are we holding back, hiding our hearts from the One who loves us, out of fear?
Many times, I’ve thought to myself, 'I can’t give my life to Jesus. He will take something away from me: this relationship, that comfort, these goals and ambitions.' But He is not a God who takes away. He has already given us everything on the Cross and in the Eucharist.
He is asking each of us to be vulnerable with Him in prayer.
This may seem impossible at first. But He is listening. He knows our hearts. Tell Him you’re afraid to open yourself up to Him. Share with Him your insecurities, your hurts, your anxieties. Offer Him your life—ask Him to help you offer it, day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment.
Vulnerable With Christ
It can be overwhelming to give of ourselves. We can feel exhausted, mentally and emotionally. That little voice inside of us pops up to whisper that it would be easier to lock our hearts away and avoid the risk of pain or rejection.
But we are not alone. Jesus walks with us.
He too experienced pain and rejection. His closest friends abandoned Him and the people He came to save crucified Him. He, too, experienced sorrow and heartbreak. He wept at the death of His friend Lazarus, and He weeps at our pain, too. He knows. He’s experienced all of this.
That’s why He came to earth! To intimately experience our unique human lives and sufferings. We do not have a God who is far-off, examining us from a distance. We have a God who is united with us.
Vulnerability may sometimes lead us to suffering and pain. Offer that pain to Jesus Christ. Nail it to the Cross. He will transform it and make it redemptive.
Thank God that we have vulnerable hearts! A vulnerable heart is a heart for relationship, a heart for giving and loving. It is the key to living life in and with Christ. By opening ourselves to Him and to the people He places in our lives, we give the Holy Spirit the chance to work in us and through us to bring about the glory of God.