Several words come to mind when the word LOVE comes into the room. Words such as blissful, beautiful and lucky. Once referred to as a “many splendored thing,” love is also a frightening pursuit. The truth is, to get to the place of a deep and abiding love, you open yourself up to the possibility of sharing your world with someone that can make life joyful. On the flipside, that same person can take your breath away by hurting you in the deepest and most personal way. In a single word: VULNERABILITY.
As unpopular as this concept may be, you cannot truly give love or receive love without being vulnerable. Having the willingness to be harmed emotionally is not for the faint at heart. It takes courage to share the intimate pieces of your heart and mind, hopeful that the recipient is grateful for your honesty and trust. But real life says we will be disappointed. Real life says that we will mistake lust for love and share too deeply, too soon and sometimes to devastation. Real life says it will hurt. When faced with the possibility of being leveled by someone that didn’t care for you in the ways that your openness warranted, do you shut down, shut out and stay shut off? In another word: NO.
Vulnerability has negative connotations because it hints at how difficult being open can be. There is a risk of letting a stranger step into your world, see the flaws and frailties of who you are and hope that they determine you are deserving of their true love and care. The beauty of that vulnerability is that real love can withstand you being human. The person on the other side is also hopeful that what they share with you will be met with open arms and an open heart. Can you be crushed for sharing that you have intense trauma in your past that roars in the present from time to time? Is sharing your physical or mental health diagnosis a potential area for ridicule or public shaming? Absolutely. There is also a great possibility that the heart you share from is matched well with a heart that is grateful to get ALL OF YOU. And that heart wants to care for you, love you, protect you and reinforce that you are enough.
The best things in life are often fraught with taking a risk. From leaving a stable job to begin an entrepreneurial pursuit to plunking down thousands of dollars on a home that hopefully isn’t a money pit, some risks are worth taking. Love is the same way. And like the new job or the new home, even with the best of due diligence, we may not find that deserving heart the first time. Be courageous! Try again. Learn to love bravely so you can receive the same in return.