If we asked the writers here who have been reflecting on vulnerability during the month of March, I suspect they would tell you that this has been a hard and challenging theme. Some of the themes we write about seem to flow in such abundance. Vulnerability is not one of those themes.
My own take on why that is focuses on the variety of things that vulnerability can mean. It can mean weakness, and I don’t care who we are, we find it difficult to acknowledge our weaknesses.
Vulnerability can refer to a choice we make to open our inner lives to one another. This kind of vulnerability requires trust and intimacy just to get started, and the great power of it is that it creates more trust and intimacy when we are vulnerable to each other in this way.
Vulnerability can draw attention to a time when we were wounded or attacked by someone, and those are usually memories that we don’t like to go back to. In fact, depending on the circumstances, reliving such memories can bring up new experiences of trauma.
We human beings enter life in a most vulnerable state requiring absolute care for everything we need to survive, and we remain in stages of the kind of vulnerability that comes with being a child for years. When our lives come to an end, we almost always find ourselves, again, in some stage of vulnerability requiring the help and care of others.
When I step back and try to take all of this in, it seems to me that the theme of vulnerability is another way of talking about the tenderness that comes with human life. This is me guessing again, but I suspect that most of us would say that some of the best memories we have in life involve other people and situations in which we received or offered experiences of tenderness. We became a soft place for someone else to land. Someone else became that soft place for us.
Vulnerability may be hard for us to talk about, but it’s key to who we are, how we love, and some of the best of what it means to be human beings searching for truth and meaning.