Sunday, August 9, 2015

Get Naked

Vulnerability. Just the word can make some of us squirm in our skin and give a little shake like a ghost ran through us. It used to do that to me. Just the word would make my armor instantaneously 10 times thicker, stronger....and colder. I was like a knight of the round table surrounded with sturdy, steel armor covering every inch, especially thick at the breast plate. I stood tall and tough for my short stature.. impenetrable. You couldn't hurt me. You couldn't scare me. And You could NEVER make me cry. Don't mess with me, don't mess with my plans for this life, don't bother me with your weakness and squishy softness...and good LORD if you know whats good for you, please don't be a victim in my vicinity....ick!

Today, I am different. I am still strong, but I wouldn't use the adjective tough. I am softer and squishier, under the breast plate. My heart feels bigger, and lighter, more in tuned, more accepting. That thick skull under my helmet, used to be a helmet in and of itself. Guarding my beliefs, my perceptions of right and wrong, good and bad, life was so black and white when I was a knight at the round table. It was my way or the highway people. Do it, do it right, do it quick or get the heck outta my way. Don't bother me with your ideals, and your what ifs, your feeelllings, blech. Today my mind feels bigger but lighter. Easier....more it's willing to take things at a slower pace and without such rigid filters in place, Before, my body, under all the armor, was often sore, burdened by the weight of the cold steel and lack of freedom of movement. Now my body feels more flexible, stronger, but lighter, still small, but longer somehow. Grounded but at the same time, ready to take flight at any moment. A whimsical flight, with out stretched arms, almost like floating in the sky. Not the type of flight I used to dream of, which was more like swimming upstream with all my might, breathless and desperate to reach my destination, while carrying weights around my ankles and wrists,

Certain parts of my knighthood still reside inside, but they have changed a little. I am still a big believer in making your own way, whatever "the way" is. Working to make your dreams come true. Making the life that you want to live. I believe in living in hopeFULLness not hopeLESSness, as I always have. But now, I have compassion in my heart for those who can't seem to do it.  I want to be a light for them, instead of squishing them with my shoe. I am still a hard, quick and efficiant worker at whatever I am doing. But I don't expect everyone else to be the same way, and I don't judge them as lazy or dumb if they aren't. Yes, I used to do that, and worse. I don't look at people struggling and assume it's their fault anymore. I try to see past those long held beliefs and create new possibilities. I work to make room in my heart and in my mind for more...more understanding, more love. And for less...less judgment, less frustration, less anger. I no longer want to smack people down with my sword, getting them out of my way, and out of their misery. I want to build them up. I want to help them see their worth, and their strength, and their gifts.

It's so trippy. Each of us are born with predispositions. With a bend toward optimism or pessimism. With a bend toward patience or impatience. Some are so young when they put up walls and clad themselves in armor, while others from a young age, lay themselves out naked and vulnerable without even realizing it. Vulnerable, there is that word again. I have decided to like it. I know now, through years of resisting, fighting hard against being vulnerable, that there is genuine strength and freedom found in being there that can not be found anywhere else. It takes a strong soul to be naked. To stretch out your arms, open your heart, and be there, unprotected. You can be hurt. You can be misunderstood. You can be judged and persecuted. You can be made fun of and criticized. OR you can finally be whole, and you can finally be accepted for YOU. You, with all of your fabulous gifts and strengths. You with all of your faults and areas of weakness. Crazy, silly, deep, creative, analytical, sensitive...all of it, whatever it is, all of it. You can finally accept others for who they are, without judgment. Freedom.

Lord knows, embracing vulnerability does not come easy for me. I still have to "work" at allowing it. My default mode is walls up, cannons ready, battle on. That is how I have operated for almost 40 years. I have a difficult time accepting my weaknesses and exposing them for the world to see. But these days, I catch myself when I start gazing into the closet, admiring my shiny armor hanging there, longing to be put back on. I know now, that although that protection feels safe and secure, it is really more of a prison then a shelter. It isn't really strength that is found inside that steel shell, it's intolerance, fear, self preservation. I don't want it anymore.I can't be a light for you, if I'm bound in my armor ready for war. So for me and for you, I shed my steel shell. I crack  myself open a little bit more each day. Here I am guys...the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Here I am to encourage you, if you need it, to let your walls down too. A little bit at a time, baby steps is fine. Crack yourself open a little bit, you'll be surprised at how good it feels.