Another look at vulnerability.
Why do we shy away from our own mourning and back off from the mourning of others? Why does vulnerability make us squirm, make us want to flee?
Why does it feel so unsafe?
Vulnerability does feel unsafe. What semblance of strength does it have to hide behind? Something wounded in us says, “vulnerability caused my hurt.” So we are quick to think, “he or she must have been too vulnerable, that’s why they got hurt, as well.”
Oh, vulnerability. You who can’t be boxed up. We can’t package your grief, shock, loss, or betrayal – not in ourselves, and certainly not in anybody else. There’s no formula to fix a broken heart, erase memories, or rebuild trust. We’d far prefer to tout off behavioral change than to sit with the the broken in her ashes, than to sit in the ashes belonging even to our own hearts.
This was my inheritance, at least, and I think it’s an inheritance common to man. A harmed instinct screams that vulnerability = danger. Don’t be soft, you’ll get hurt! Don’t be vulnerable, you’ll be taken advantage of! Don’t allow yourself to feel, you’ll be overcome! Be vulnerable with the losses and sorrows and tragedies of your life? No, thanks.
We can’t mourn when we are hard and defensive in our pain. Nor can we mourn when in denial, when refusing to provide space for the pain to be experienced.
Vulnerability takes risk, risk that other people will see us, risk that God will see us, risk that we’re putting ourselves out there and what if they, no, what if HE doesn’t show up?
Could we even handle that? It’s too frightening a prospect. No, instead we will bottle up this pain and ignore it. Or, we will cling this pain and pay it homage. We will exalt it or we will minimize it but we will not, under any circumstance, look it straight in the face and accept it for what it is, accept that…oh, that’s the risk right there.
I don’t want to accept this sorrow. I don’t want it to be this way. My heart is broken, and I am fighting against this brokenness. I want it to all be whole, fixed, healed, made new, restored – I don’t want to accept that it is broken, lost, ending, over.
I don’t want to accept that this baby has died, that this abuse has transpired, that this cancer has spread, that this marriage has failed, that my childhood will never be given a second chance. I don’t want to accept that a father doesn’t love, that a mother didn’t see, that a pastor denied protection and instead kept a perpetrator safe. It HURTS to accept the mournful things of life, it hurts and like the captives in Babylon, we want to hang our harps upon the tree and wail instead of sing, for how can we sing the songs of God in our captivity?
How can we sing the songs of Zion? You have betrayed us, oh God. You have left us to our enemies. You have abandoned our children to the grave. You have inflicted illness and disease. You have sent us off as captives, as slaves. How can we sing your songs?
And how can we not?
Blessed are you who mourn, Jesus said, for you shall be comforted.
If comfort is the balancer, then it better be good.
This post is part of Survivor Songs, a 31-Day series. A full list of posts is found here.