It’s been, for sure, one of those weeks for me. One of those weeks that I wouldn’t have guessed would go the way it did. One of those weeks that probably shouldn’t have happened. One of those weeks that I can’t take back, straighten out, do over, let go or break free from. This week sucked, and I hope I don’t have to deal with another day like the past few.
When my heart is heavy, as it’s been for a few days, it seems I move in slow motion. It seems that I exist in a bubble from which I can’t break free, a bubble in which I have been placed because of the unfortunate decision to allow vulnerability to surface beyond the wall that had come down, the wall I carefully constructed, the wall that was slowly torn apart, the wall that is now at a stage somewhere between complete destruction and potential reconstruction. I guess I’m not suited for vulnerability outside of wordpress, anyway.
The Psalms are good for times like these. I’m always struck by David’s vulnerability, whether he’s broken and feeling defeated or unashamedly praising his God or even angrily bemoaning his feelings about life’s challenges, he is authentic in his expression, pure in his emotion, passionate in his love and trust in his God. David had enemies, real and perceived, but he always knew that his God was present as his refuge. David loved his God, and he poured out his praise with such detail and such candor that his motives were clear, enviable, and emulated by those who have taken the time to read the Psalms.
I think of the idea that God is our refuge, my refuge, and I am so grateful that I can rest in Him. I know He hears without judgment my heart’s deepest thoughts, my soul’s deepest desires, and that He doesn’t label me because of my vulnerability. He knows my heart even though I have done almost nothing for Him, and what I have done, I’ve done so poorly at times. Still, He is my safe haven… He catches me when I fall, He holds me when I’m falling.
In Psalm 31, David writes
9 Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in distress.
Tears blur my eyes.
My body and soul are withering away.
10 I am dying from grief;
my years are shortened by sadness.
Sin has drained my strength;
I am wasting away from within.
11 I am scorned by all my enemies
and despised by my neighbors—
even my friends are afraid to come near me.
When they see me on the street,
they run the other way.
It’s not often you see a man pour out his soul like this, admitting the intensity of his tears, the severity of his sadness, the perception of his surroundings. We read his words, and assume that his perception is spot on, that he regularly had enemies against him, that his friends were fairweather at times, that he was understood by no one. Recently, though, I’ve been wondering if the weight that he carried — spiritually, emotionally, socially, etc. — clouded his perception, at times, leading him to feel things more deeply than others, than even he himself might ordinarily feel.
Regardless of the way he expressed his feelings, maybe, perhaps, in spite of it, he was always secure in his relationship with his God, he knew that he had the freedom to speak and that his God would love him the same. His vulnerability didn’t define him as weak, or unlovable, or as a problem child, or just not worth the effort. It seems to me that his vulnerability was a demonstration of his absolute faith that his God would hear him and love him anyway.
I, without an ounce of shame, envy David’s freedom to be vulnerable, and his God’s ability to care for the heart of his child. To this day, David is a cherished saint of the Father in the hearts and minds of Christians. Despite his infidelity, poor decisions, and his seemingly self-pitying rants, he is still known, accurately so, as a man after God’s own heart.
I, too, have made some poor decisions. I have trusted the wrong people. I have given time, love, attention, cash, and energy to people of all ilks that took and took and enjoyed my spirit and generosity until the moment I let even a glimpse of my vulnerable side appear. I have believed the words “I love you” from friends, lovers, family members only to find that the words were temporary and conditional, when what they really meant was, “I love you until you show me you might need me even a little bit, that I might have to show you the care, concern and love that you have so often and so selflessly shown me.” And then I started construction on the wall.
When we are vulnerable, we expose our flaws, allow others to see that we are susceptible to emotional injury, and all we want to know is that we are loved in spite of because of even though we have flaws, and that the mere expression of vulnerability doesn’t negate all the good and strong and generous parts of us that are regularly present, and it doesn’t intend to isolate. Vulnerability cries out,
“I trust you with my heart, with my deepest fears, with my most intense desires. I trust you to protect me even when I’m wrong, even when I’m right. I trust you even though I’m still a little scared. I trust you because I know you want to know the entirity of me. I trust you to hold me up when I don’t think I can stand. I trust you to protect what is precious. I trust that you can see me, fully exposed, and choose not to condemn and walk away, but instead, choose to love me even more because it’s all part of who I am. I trust that you want me to be able to trust you, wholly and completely. I trust you because I love you, and I know I can.”
This week is nearing its end, thank God. Did I mention that it sucked?! I hope to spend at least part of it near the water, in the water even, where I can sit… susceptible to the wild waves of the Chesapeake, with my arms outstretched and the breeze in my hair, secure in the knowledge that I do not need to rebuild the wall.