“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, & your heart will certainly be wrung & possibly be broken.” -C.S Lewis.
I think I’ve always struggled with being vulnerable. Sometimes, it takes years for me to be completely vulnerable with a person. Because through unfortunate life experiences, I have learned that while it can take years to build trust…it only takes a few minutes for it to be broken. The thing is, I’ve been hurt by people. But let’s get real…who hasn’t? Who hasn’t had someone break your trust? Who hasn’t had their feelings hurt? Who hasn’t had someone let them down at least once in their lives?
I’ve never met someone who said, “I just love being vulnerable.” Ever. It just doesn’t happen. The truth is most of us avoid vulnerability at all costs because it is uncomfortable for us. We put on masks, fake it till we make it on social media, & constantly put on protective armor to avoid getting hurt.
Today I got curious to see how the word vulnerable is defined, & I admit, it wasn’t what I was expecting.
Oxford Dictionary defines it as, “exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” The synonyms include, “helpless, weak, susceptible, impotent, powerless, defenseless…” Even further, the Latin root literally means “to wound.”
Ouch. This sounds like my worst nightmare.
But for all the work we put into shielding ourselves from this phenomenon, love is still our deepest longing, & loving is quite possibly the most vulnerable thing.
If that girl hadn’t allowed herself to fall for that guy in high school, she would’ve been spared the pain of a wounded heart. If that woman hadn’t said “I do” to the love of her life, she wouldn’t be broken when he betrayed her trust. If that kid hadn’t taken a risk on a budding friendship, he wouldn’t be left hurt & confused after a fight. If that woman hadn’t allowed her parents to fill up most of the space in her heart, she wouldn’t be completely shattered when they died. The list goes on & on.
So why do we love, if it causes so much pain & heartbreak?
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart & with all your soul & with all your mind & with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
I think God knew when He gave this command that by keeping it, it would inevitably produce suffering, but yet He still charged us with it. Sometimes, it seems easier to run away, lock the door of our hearts, & build walls. I know I’ve been tempted a time or ten. If we didn’t have connections, if we were completely detached from everyone/everything, it wouldn’t affect us…but our Father did not design us to be void, emotionless pillars of stone. As He said in the Garden of Eden, “it is not good for man to be alone.” We were made to love & be loved. & love is quite possibly the most beautiful, fulfilling, rewarding thing you’ll ever do.
But maybe we are less likely to suffer for others for the sake of love until we understand how His love made Jesus suffer for us.
Because how much more vulnerable is Jesus when He risks loving us?
The Last Supper, when Jesus sat with His disciples & broke the bread & drank the wine–a foretelling of what was to come–it was a marriage covenant solidifying His love for us. “In other words, Jesus says to you with this cup, I love you. I want you. I commit to you. This cup is the covenant in My blood, which I offer to you.” -Voskamp.
Love is a risk, & Jesus risked it all for you & me. In fact, He continues to risk…day after day…time after time. Love is painful, & Jesus endured the ultimate pain so we don’t have to. Love is scary, & Jesus had awe-inspiring courage as He willingly faced the cross.
You see, “there are those big-banner, social media, camera-rolling moments, with some imagined soundtrack building to a thundering crescendo, times when we think we’d all pour out our lives, throw ourselves out of a plane, in front of a train, show no restraint & brave the haul of the hurricane to save our love. But real love doesn’t always look like that kind of heroism. That’s more like Hollywood.” Voskamp.
Real love looks more like a sacrificing Savior. A Father who sent His perfect Son from His majestic throne in Heaven to this flawed, sin-filled world to be born in a dirty barn surrounded by dirty animals & raised by two simple human beings. Real love is a Father knowing–even as He did this–that His Son–who never did a single wrong thing in His entire existence–would be beaten, condemned, mocked, & nailed to a cross as a sacrifice for all who have sinned & all who will sin. Real love is a Savior who knew the very same people He died for would reject Him time & time again, would continue to sin, would run away from Him, would curse His name…& yet He loved anyway.
In the ultimate sacrifice of love, Jesus was broken & given.
How would you like it if someone you loved fully & completely, someone you risked everything for, someone you died for constantly rejected you? “I can’t spend any time with you today….I’m too busy.” “Sorry, I’m not interested in accepting your love or getting to know you.” “Okay, I only have 10 minutes & then I’m done…& don’t expect me to actually talk to you.”
That would crazy hurt, wouldn’t it? This is what Jesus has experienced & will experience a million times over, but yet He always continues to welcome us back with open arms.
I was recently introduced to the song, “Reckless Love,” by Cody Ashbury, & I love the way He describes the meaning behind the song. “God’s love is reckless. He is not reckless, but the way He loves is. He is utterly unconcerned with the consequences of His actions with regard to His own safety, comfort, & well-being. His love isn’t crafty or slick. Its not cunning or shrewd. In fact, all things considered, its quite childlike & might I even suggest somewhat downright ridiculous. His love bankrupted heaven for you & for me. His love doesn’t consider Himself first. It isn’t selfish or self-serving. He doesn’t wonder what He will gain or lose by putting Himself on the line. He simply puts Himself out there on the off chance that you & I might look back at Him & give him that love in return. His love isn’t cautious. It is a love that sent His own Son to die a gruesome death on a cross. There is no plan B with the love of God. He gives His heart so completely, so preposterously, that if refused we would think it irreparably broken. Yet He gives Himself away again & again & again & again time & time again. Make no mistake our sins do pain His heart & 70×7 is a lot of times to get your heart broken. & yet He opens up & allows us back in every single time. His love saw you when you hated Him & all logic says they’ll reject me. He said nah I don’t care what it costs me. I lay my life on the line as long as I get their hearts.”
Wow. Just Wow.
So even though love is a risk, I believe the reward is greater. I want to learn to love like Jesus. I want to love selflessly & completely. I want to be broken & given in a thousand different ways & die a thousand little deaths for the sake of loving others. I want to love those who feel unlovable, & forgive those who feel unforgivable. Because maybe love isn’t always feeling “good” about others. Maybe its about ultimately being willing to suffer for others.
I want to believe there is enough love in me, that I am loved enough by Him, to be made enough love to give.
I want to be vulnerable. I want to give love to the hurting. I want to love the beautiful people in the backstreets. I want to love those who hurt me & betray me. I want to be brave & open my heart to new relationships. I want to share His love with everyone I come into contact with. I desperately want to love when it’s the most inconvenient…because loving should never be an intrusion or interruption.
Most of all, I want to participate in a full union with Christ. I want to be fully & completely loved by my Father…fully & completely loving Him in return. I want to remember & praise His sacrifice, His risk, His vulnerability.
In the words of Ann Voskamp, “I will love you like Jesus, because of Jesus & through the strength of Jesus. I will love when I am not loved back. I will love when I am hurt & disappointed & betrayed & inconvenienced & rejected. I will simply love. No expectations, no demands, no conditions. I will fall in love & fail at love & fall in my love. & nothing will stop me from loving. Not time, distance, disappointment, or death. You may not love me back. You may humble me, humiliate me, reject me, shatter my heart, & drive the shards into my soul—but this is not what matters. What matters is that in the act of loving we become more like the givenness of Christ Himself. Nothing will stop me from the risk of vulnerably loving because love like this is not a risk. For love defies logic & keeps on loving when it makes no sense because that is what love does. Because love is a risk that’s never a risk.”
Because love only has logic, only has meaning, when it takes the form of a cross.