I just got home from 10 days away on the Ascend Carmel program, where I serve on the leadership team. Many amazing things happened during this 10 days, most of which are not my stories to tell. But the thing that most impacted me about this 10 days away, was the courage that the participants showed in being vulnerable.
From the minute they walked through the front door, into a guest house full of strangers, they were all committed to each other, to walking through the journey they were on together, and to creating a safe place for each other to be real.
It really got me thinking about vulnerability. We are programmed to view it as a dangerous place to live. It's a state that holds great risk, and in our minds, will end in tears. Throughout my life I have always been told one of my greatest flaws is that I trust people too easily or quickly, and that I'm too open with my heart. In other words, I live in a state of vulnerability. For many years, I tried to fight this, as I had been convinced that it was going to get me hurt, and actually - it did. But I realized a long time ago, that actually what I did, was deliberately turn my heart of flesh into a heart of stone, and undoing that was far more painful than the hurt I'd experienced in my vulnerable state.
Since going through the painful process of unfreezing my heart, I have come to see how this is one of my gifts, and to embrace it, and all that comes with it. Including the hurt. What I discovered is that this place is actually a welcoming place. It's a place that others feel safe, at home and taken care of. This is why all our participants on Ascend felt so able to be vulnerable from the get go. They felt welcomed, at home and taken care of, both by each other and by the leadership.
I have witnessed the incredible strength that is exhibited in someone making themselves vulnerable to another, or to God. It isn't a place of weakness, it is a place of courage, of choice and of incredible healing and refreshment. It's where the truth is faced, accepted and love is exchanged.
When you deconstruct what takes place when a person is vulnerable, it begs the question why we aren't vulnerable all the time!
The problem is self.
When we see someone else's vulnerability as an opportunity to feel better about ourselves, that's when dangers arise. But if we were more conscious of the beauty of the exchange that can take place between two intentionally vulnerable people, we would all be better off.
When people are vulnerable together, strength is found, courage is raised, love is given and relationships are made that will last a life time. And most important - We are real.
Because actually, It is when we are vulnerable, that we are at our most real, raw, naked selves.