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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Shared Vulnerability

 One of the keys to coming out of the darkness of our life behind the door is a new perspective about relationships. When we are still groping about in the shadows of our own deception, we tend to view people in an unequal way: winners and losers, strong and weak, beautiful and ugly, etc. We usually see ourselves in the latter categories. We think that everybody is out of touch with us and our "reality." We think that nobody understands what we're going through or how we feel. We feel left to battle the darkness on our own. 
 Upon coming to the other side of the door, however, we see these same relationships take on a different meaning. When viewed in the light of truth, we notice a common thread - an equality between us and our fellowman: shared vulnerability. We realize that everybody goes through their own stages of anger, isolation, insecurity, fear, and self-doubt. These aren't problems unique to us only - they are problems unique to humanity. Some people move beyond these feelings sooner than others, thus giving the impression that they never have any troubles or feel any pain. But, upon further examination, we find this isn't the case. I remember reading about other young people's journeys and being surprised at how similar their struggles were to mine. I was amazed to discover that they grieved, resented, fought, and drove away just the same as I did. Here, for all this time, I thought that no one related to or cared about how I felt. Now, I saw myself as one among many. I was not alone. 
 Perhaps this sense of shared vulnerability is what makes things like support groups or programs like Alcoholics Anonymous so successful: everybody is on the same page, struggling the same way. When we as human beings are more open with each other about how we feel, how we fail, how we hurt, it breaks down the wall of separation between us. How beautiful a thing it is when we can see one another for who we really are: the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. When we are not afraid of each other's pain, incredible healing can take place...because it's not a bad thing to cry together, to ache together, to try to love each other through our feelings of badness. 
 Shared vulnerability is when lives connect over human problems. It happens when one person looks into the eyes of another and says, 

"I hurt, too. I'm a broken person just like you. I know you think I'm perfect but, really, I just need a Savior to rescue me like you do."

People can bond in incredible ways when all pride and self-defense is stripped away and humility takes over. What an amazing sight to see when a shared experience brings lives together: cancer patients grieving a diagnosis; teenagers mourning the loss of a common friend; soldiers crying together following the death of a fellow comrade-in-arms; a parent and child embracing in the wake of a painful divorce...
Shared vulnerability brings us closer and makes us love each other in spite of our weaknesses.