Monday, June 6, 2011

Vulnerability Not Defensiveness

Yesterday at church our pastor spoke about living from a place of vulnerability, not defensiveness. "The Church" as a whole has been rightly criticized for trying to make converts of everyone else, with sometimes extremely violent results. We can't force anyone into our point of view, either from fear or power or manipulation. That might get you what you want in the short-term, but it will never be meaningful to either party in the long run.

I have been living with vulnerability as a close part of my personality for the last few months. I had to become slowly reacquainted with it again, kind of circling around the idea, filled with apprehension. I had equated vulnerability with weakness, and worked hard to gloss over the softer side of my own emotions.

This was a survival technique for me, and a poor one for living as an adult and certainly as a parent. Taking the Power to Parent course and finding permission to access and embrace my own emotions, and hearing that parenting is best done with children and parents who have soft hearts, turned this around for me. I began to look at vulnerability as a strength. It's a good thing to be sensitive; to feel deeply and to be connected to those emotions.

It's a bit like looking at the world with entirely different lenses. I don't have to be so defensive and aggressive anymore. It is no longer my way or the highway. I can believe what I believe, and live at peace with the differences that exist between me and others. It's not my job to fix other people (and God knows I have enough work to do just looking at my own brokenness) and I have been trying to surrender my twin needs for control and to be liked all of the time.

Most of life is out of my direct control. Opening my clenched fist and letting go of that illusion of control has set me free from a lot of the anxiety and stress which used to rule my life. Setting boundaries so that I don't carry everyone else's hurt and pain has been liberating to the extreme. It's enough to feel my own, and to take responsibility for my words and actions.

I am learning to live from a place of vulnerability and not defensiveness. I can disagree with someone and still love them. I don't have to convince anyone of anything. I just want to live my life, with as much authenticity as possible, and do my best to love God and love others. The rest is not up to me, and I don't have to worry about it. The freedom which lives inside of this discovery is so immense, it cannot be contained in the confines of the prairie sky.

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