On Love and Vulnerability

C.S Lewis once said the following: (source: Goodreads.com)

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make 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. To love is to be vulnerable.

I’m sure all of us have been hurt by another person or animal at some point in our lives.  Some of you may have been hurt many times, you may have thought to yourself (maybe consciously, but maybe unconsciously): ” I will never give my heart to anyone again!  I will keep everyone at arm’s length so that I won’t get hurt ever again. ”  Seems logical, doesn’t it? If you don’t let anyone in your heart, you won’t get hurt by anyone either.  Unfortunately, as C.S Lewis says in this quote (my paraphrase), you will not only be immune to getting hurt, you will also be eventually immune to getting the love and care you need.

Here’s why it’s important not to completely close yourself off to others:

  1. When you open yourself to others and are vulnerable, people will more likely accept and respect the true you.–Especially nowadays, when there are many fakes and wannabes, being authentic is a breath of fresh air to most people.  Being open to not only your triumphs and accomplishments but also your failure makes you more believable–and dare I say, more human. Also, if you are open and honest with yourself, people are more likely to respect your boldness and genuineness.
  2. Connected to the first point, when you are willing to be vulnerable with others, it gives others a chance to open up too.–I used to be so afraid of being “found out” and rejected, that I hid parts of myself. When I began to open up to others (Yes, I understand we shouldn’t tell your life story to strangers or to people you don’t trust or know well, but we should be able to trust at least one other person!), sometimes other people will also open up to you and you will find the comforting feeling that you are not alone in your struggles or experiences.  It is a feeling of solidarity to be able to say to another, “Me too!”
  3. When you open yourself up to others, it allows you and the other person or persons to learn from one another.–When we open up about our experiences and struggles, we are able to better understand others.  For instance, if you relate to a good friend that you struggle with X problem, you may learn that your friend struggles with the same problem, or struggled before and has already overcome it, in which case, you can learn how to overcome your problem better from your friend.  If you don’t share anything at all, you also don’t learn anything from anyone. When we stop learning, I found that life loses meaning and purpose. Don’t fall into that trap.
  4. When you open up yourself to others, you are allowing yourself to receive love and help from others.–Yes, opening yourself up does require some humility, but it is worth it.  For instance, there are people at my job that I initially had some problems with, but when I humbled myself and tried to open up to them and  learn more about them in genuine love and care for them, I found that these people actually were more willing to help me understand them better and developed a good measure of care for me in return. This does not always happen with everyone, of course, but we all can learn at least one thing from another person, even if we don’t like or get along with them.  Also, when you open up yourself to someone, he or she can understand and relate to you better than if you keep everything bottled up inside and secret.
  5. When you close yourself to others, your heart will become callous and uncaring.–I have seen and heard about people who have put up so many barriers to others, that they became hateful towards others and despondent and callous.  Some of them no longer care about the needs of others because they have become so focused on hiding everything, that they forget about everything else. People who harbor deep prejudices often are near or at this point. They have so much anger and hatred inside and have barriers so high, that they no longer care about anything or anyone other than themselves.  This is a very sad state to be in, indeed.

Objections to being vulnerable–answered:

  1. If I become vulnerable, someone will hurt or take advantage of me.–Yes, this can and does happen, but we must not let our fears dictate our lives. The alternative to not being vulnerable and not getting hurt is often worse than the hurt one can try so hard to avoid in the first place. Instead of taking the risk of having someone hurt us, we become hard and calloused and so hurt ourselves worse than the hurts we are fearing. Also, suffering and hurt is a fact of life on this side of the dirt.  I know. I hate it too, but the suffering you experience from another person is often (or at least can be) temporary. The price of being “irredeemable” and “dark,”  as C.S Lewis mentions, is not worth the price of avoiding hurt and pain from another person.
  2. Being vulnerable is only for the weak--So. not. true.  Being vulnerable and being willing to risk one’s reputation for the sake of authenticity and openness takes quite the emotional energy to do.  It takes a lot of strength. For instance, when someone is willing to risk their friendships by admitting a struggle or a personality defect, he or she is not only being strong but courageous in the face of possible fire, so to speak, as well. Being prideful and appearing perfect when you’re not is actually more of a sign of weakness than being vulnerable.
  3. If I am willing to be vulnerable, especially with my problems, my reputation will be ruined.–Well, it could be, but let me ask you this? Would you rather go through life being “liked” for a fake version of you, and thus no one knows or likes the real you, or would you rather be hated but feel free to be who you really are?  I would prefer the latter myself because I don’t do fake.  Also, most likely your reputation may only be slightly ruined–by those people who now see you in a negative light, but who were never really confidants in the first place–, but enhanced by those who will be your true blue friends and who will really love and care for you unconditionally. I think the latter group is the best kind of friends anyway.

So, to be loved is to be vulnerable. It may be very scary for some (or many) people, but love is always worth it.  I have been so much with so many people and thus have learned a lot from them about love. What I have learned from most everyone is that truly loving them requires some measure of vulnerability. May we all be fearless and free to be who we were meant to be, with no barriers to love.

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My Day with God: Lessons I Learned

If you are a Christian, I would wholeheartedly recommend spending an extended time—anywhere from a half a day to a whole day with God–in serious, focused worship, at least every several months, so your spirit will be renewed and rejuvenated.   This can mean singing along with praise/worship songs and/or hymns, digging deeper into His Word, praying and meditating on His Word.  I had tried to spend an extended time before with little result. Yesterday, however, was different. It’s like God opened the floodgates of His power and His teachings into my life in a more resounding way than I only had experienced on retreats with groups of people and never in my personal time with God! Here are some of the many things I learned:

1.) Don’t fight with people–fight the Enemy: In a book I read ( Fervent  by Priscilla Shirer. You can buy it at this link: Fervent), I learned that when we have strife, anger, or resentment against another person, especially after an argument or fight with them, we are catering to the Enemy–the devil.  People are not the Enemy. The devil is.  Yes, it’s natural to have anger towards another person sometimes, and everyone has, even Christians–even me! However, what I learned is not to let that anger control you or worsen your relationships. If more people realized and believed that a sinister being and evil spirits are behind most of our quarrels with others, then I believe more people would be apt to turn to God in prayer and have mercy towards the person who had offended them.

2.) Forgive as you have been forgiven: This one was actually review for me,  but I needed this refresher, and I bet many people reading this may need it too.  There are many misconceptions out there about forgiveness, which is part of the reason I think it’s so difficult for many people to actually forgive biblically! First of all, when you forgive, it’s not giving a free pass to the offender. The offender still needs to make reparations and repent in order to actually receive it for him or herself.  He or she also can face judgment for the offense if it is very serious. The very act of you having to forgive them means that the offender actually did something that you think was wrong and sinful! Also, forgiving one who offended you, is actually for you more than it is for them. It helps you be free of the tormenting memories of hurt and anger that flash through your mind every time you think of or interact with them and of poisoning your other relationships (which, in fact, does happen. Trust me. I’ve witnessed it and experienced it myself when I struggled with unforgiveness.) with your carried-over anger and resentment of the original offender.

3.) Do all things without grumbling or complaining….and with that: Be a voice of encouragement, rather than a voice of complaining or gossiping. – This is by far the toughest for me, because, in my fleshly state, I grumble and complain too much for my own good.  I found that when I complain about someone or something, I not only tend to get angrier and angrier, I also get somewhat depressed and discouraged. I think this is no accident—The devil had already planted seeds of discontentment in my heart, causing me to get emotionally down and discouraged, instead of  being grateful and joyful. However, when I intentionally aim to encourage another person or stop myself from complaining about someone, I tend to feel better about myself and my circumstances. Sometimes, if I am in a bad situation and I try to not grumble and complain about it, it passes without incident. I remember today, I was particularly angry with someone and wanted to complain to a manager about this person, but found that a.) I didn’t have time for that. and b.) It was no longer important to me to complain about them.  Also, in the past when I felt overwhelmed by the work assigned me at my job, I used to constantly complain that it was too much. After my time with God yesterday, I knew the work was going to be a lot and I didn’t really have even enough time to complete everything I wanted to get done, but I was able to get a lot done and not be overly upset about it.

4.) Have more sṓphrōn, which means self-control, of a sound mind. -I learned that I need to control my anger better and have more self-control about certain things I won’t get into now.  I learned that all self-control really starts in the mind. I also learned from various sources that if I wanted to have more self-control and be biblical, that I should read and memorize His Word more. I also learned that a key element of self-control is patience. I learned that having patience and self-control accomplish several things: a.) They prevent you from disaster–either physically, emotionally, or even spiritually. b.) It helps you delay gratification, so you can receive the better or best thing because you were able to wait for it. c.) It helps you be a more grateful person in that you learn to cope the best you can in the situation you are in without yearning too much for the thing which you are waiting.

These are the four major things I learned, and hopefully start to apply to my life.  I hope you, the reader, also can take away something from these lessons and apply them to your own life.  God has taught me so much in my life. I can’t wait for all He has in store for me- for all of us!

My heroes of the faith-Explanation

This is one of the most joyful posts I am probably ever going to publish. The following five people (see “heroes of the faith” tab on my blog) have embodied all of the five characteristics that I discuss in this post. They come from all walks of life, and some of them though already passed, have made a huge impact in this world and/or personally in my life. Some of them, though we never even met, through what others who have known them personally have written or spoke about them, have left an indelible mark on my life and how I live it.

Heroes

  1. Jesus Christ-He is more than just a person to me; He is my God! He embodies perfectly how I want to live and I want to devote my all to Him.  If I were to list absolutely everything He has done for me and my life,  I would probably exhaust the megabits of this blog server! He has never given up on me, even if I have given up on myself.  He is the most trustworthy, loyal, kind, generous, faithful and merciful being I have ever known! Though He didn’t have worldly education, was poor, was not in our terms, “handsome,” and almost everyone He knew rejected Him, He made an indelible mark on this world just for the fact that He lived–and died, for each one of us.
  2. Rachel Joy Scott-Rachel was a faithful warrior of Christ, who died on April 20, 1999 in the Columbine shooting massacre.  She was martyred (read: shot) by two troubled young boys.  However, it was her life that shined for Christ before others.  According to the book her parents Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott made in honor of her called “Rachel’s Tears,” though she had doubts and struggles with her faith, she was always committed to doing her best every day to make a positive impact in her world. Her love for people and her commitment to Christ are things I want to model my own life after. Like her, I want to not only love others, but be committed to help combat against injustice in this world and do my part to make a positive difference in others’ lives, in love and obedience to my God.
  3. Frank and Stephanie Taylor-These people embody well what it means to be a believer in Christ. Pastor Frank was my pastor at my (former) church. At first, I didn’t trust him or his wife Stephanie, but slowly they gained my trust and love through their devotion and love of God and others.  They also don’t let the power and responsibility of being a pastor or in the case of Stephanie, pastor’s wife, go to their heads.  I remember when Pastor Frank accidentally offended some people in our church, and instead of defending himself or being arrogant about it, he actually took the time to publicly apologize for his actions and asked for forgiveness. I will always remember his humility in that. Also, I will always remember Stephanie’s patience and grace with me when I was having a difficult time in life and she would always come alongside me and gently prod me to focus on God and not myself.
  4. Mother Teresa-I believe her service to the poor and vulnerable, as well as her honesty about the struggles of her faith, are what inspire me about her. She was always willing to lend a hand to anyone in need, and she inspired me to not ever forget about the downtrodden or oppressed. She was a champion in fighting injustice and poverty in India through what she did to try to help them.

 

 

The Importance of Being Humble

Humility. The Merriam-Webster dictionary aptly defines it as, ” freedom from pride or arrogance.” (source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/humility). We all probably know someone with a lack of it, but what does it mean to be  full of humility  and why is being humble so important? Here are just three reasons why being humble is so important:

  1. It shows genuineness-When we are honest about ourselves and our shortcomings,  it shows that we are real. When we hide our faults and give others (and sometimes, ourselves) the perception that we can do no wrong, people will either a.) put you up on pedestal and think you’re some kind of god or something. or b.) Despise you and call you out on your lies and hiding, because perfection is  something that no one (but the real God) can attain to anyway. When you are prideful, and not humble, you will inevitably fall. As it says in Proverbs 16:18 (ESV) , “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” However, when we are willing to admit to others that a.) yes, we were wrong on that particular issue and b.) No, we don’t know everything, it shows our human-ness, something that others can relate to. This is why humility is so attractive. It also shows that we are honest and can be trusted to be not only true to ourselves, but true to others as well.  That is why, in another blog post I wrote, I shared that humility (i.e..being humble) is the Number One quality I look for in a person I admire!
  2. It shows consideration for others-Along with this, being humble shows that we are willing to consider and defer to others. We are not spotlight hoggers, so to speak.  People who are truly humble don’t necessarily think less of themselves, but don’t think of themselves much at all! They are other-centered and other-focused.  True humility shows itself up in many ways. For example, when someone wants to go ahead of you in line, if you are a humble person you would let them, not to let them to “take advantage” of you, but because you are purposefully putting their needs ahead of yours.  Also, when someone tells you that you have hurt them, you don’t make excuses or explanations why you are “justified” in hurting them, but simply and contritely say, “I’m sorry for hurting you,” and resolve not to hurt them the next time.  For another example, when someone gets a promotion at work and you don’t, instead of getting jealous or angry at them, you congratulate them and are happy for them.
  3. It shows that you are teachable- Being humble opens us up to learn new things about ourselves and others, and it allows us to learn from our mistakes and grow as a person. One of the ways, one of my managers is helping me cultivate this quality for myself is after I straighten the aisles in the store where I work, she always points out things that I can do better. This is not to make me feel “less than” or “inferior” to her, but to help me to do the straightening even better than last time. I know this because she also points out things that I do well. If I weren’t open to being teachable, I wouldn’t ever learn how to straighten the aisles better and I would ruin my work relationship not only with her, but with many others as well. And I am, by no means, a humble person, but striving to be sometimes is all we can do. One way we can do that is by being teachable and learn from our mistakes. This will allow you to gain knowledge in many different areas of life, especially areas where we are weakest. As they say, knowledge is power.

This is why humility is so important. It shows honesty, consideration for others, and it shows that you are teachable and willing to learn new things. Even if you still struggle with being prideful (like me) at times, humility is still something you can strive to cultivate. However, once you are aware of your “humility,” you are no longer being humble. So, it is also something that you should not be too aware of in yourself, but always strive for being.