I am like a turtle. I’ve always been like this. And time and time again, something does come up that causes me to calcify these shells so that they are becoming more impenetrable by the years. I know I’m not supposed to be building shells around myself. I know I should be toughening my skin instead to withstand the many roughness of life. But I chose the safer paths. To build shells. Initially, it felt very safe. I loved the serenity and peace within. I loved that the lights here were dimmer. I could look upon my flaws and weaknesses in less harsher lights. I loved that things could bounce off my shell without penetrating and causing even the slightest harm or hurt. I loved that people could still look and wonder, not being able to decipher the entire package. I loved that they wondered what I was hiding underneath, even when I knew there was nothing to hide. That the only thing underneath was a fearful and selfish heart that was not willing to discover how strong or generous it was or could be. I loved that people were not willing to push through the shells to find out. I loved that I could stick out my head and observe for so long that I had a good grasp of people and cared deeply for them even when they seemed not to know a thing about the head underneath the shell nor the heart that beat underneath it. I felt that if they didn’t try hard, they really didn’t care and that was okay. One less relationship to try to grow or sustain.
The thing is, the shell is no longer the safe house it was some years back. It’s no longer the comfortable closet I could run into and hide when I wanted to. It’s a burden now. Like a war shield that a fair maiden has to carry to the village stream instead of a water pot. The many pieces and fragments are all so stuck together now there’s hardly a way to breathe in here. It’s suffocating and I desperately want to get out but it’s been so hard trying to learn to undo what I did for so long.
It’s hard to get vulnerable with people. Especially with your emotions. Even the bible warns us about how desperately wicked the heart of man is and how diligently we should guard our hearts. It’s hard to get to a place where you completely trust someone so much that you can just feel around them and not be scared to show it. It’s hard when you don’t even know how to start to do this even if you wanted to. Vulnerability is hard. We’ve come to believe it is a sign of weakness. We’ve been taught that strength is anything but being vulnerable. I bought into this school of thought. Big time! But I’ve come to see the lie in this. You know, vulnerability is giving up your son for people who you know will mock, doubt and blaspheme but doing it all the same. Vulnerability is being strong enough to give even at the risk of rejection and then giving again and again after that without relenting. You can never know depth in any relationship if you are not willing to lose yourself in it. And by this I mean, like I said earlier, it’s being able to feel and tell without fear. It means not covering up the real you or trying to present it in the best possible light to someone you want something deeper with. Vulnerability is like literally giving someone a razor and a map showing them where to cut you the deepest (Sherrilyn Keynon); and having it at the back of your mind that they will do just that in some measure. It means being open for wounding and also for pleasure; for pain and hurt and also for immense love and joy and happiness. You see, vulnerability is a gate. And it has to be open for things to get in; whether it’s the pain or the joy is all wrapped up in the fact that both are bound to enter, but you can never know the joys if you are scared of feeling the pains and hurts. And it takes a great deal of courage to open up those gates. So you see, it’s not weaklings who make themselves vulnerable. It is in fact the exact opposite.
In my desperation to break free from these shells, I’m beginning to learn a couple of things. Firstly, vulnerability is the greatest sign that you accept yourself completely and love yourself immensely that you are not scared of showing that self to someone else. It’s that silent scream to Your One that you are awesome, warts and all, and that they’ll be plain stupid to let you go. Secondly, it is the best way to show Your One that you are really and sincerely in love with them. Vulnerability is giving without fear or reservation and that is the best kind of love, and the best atmosphere to experience depth in love. I’ve done the opposite for so long I can tell you squarely that it really does not get you the love you dream of. I’ve been scared like so many of us are, of giving someone the idea that they have the power to hurt us deeply. I mean, who wants to consciously do that?!
I do. Now, I would take that risk if I ever got that chance. I would do that over and over and over again. For now, I’ll have to figure out how to undo all the nuts and rusted bolts holding this shell and try to dismantle as much of it as I possibly can before it chokes me to my death.
If there’s only one thing you take out of reading this, let it be that building fences and shells or walls usually feels great at the beginning but if you must feel the depth of love that we all deserve to feel, then you’ll have to find an axe and go at those walls with a vengeance. Don’t let it cripple you from venturing out into wholesome experiences in this life. They say you only live once; yes, that is true. You also only get the chance to love truly once in this life; this too is also true.