To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
I’ve noticed a theme for this blog in the last few weeks and the pain of being and becoming more vulnerable. Becoming vulnerable means that you give up the right to ever being hurt or misunderstood. Sometimes that doesn’t seem fair particularly when you’ve been unfairly judged. The one thing that vulnerability does give you though is resilience and strength to continue loving and giving of yourself.
It is endemic of the British to keep the stiff upper lip and for boys to be brought up not to cry. One of my objectives in life is not to be like my earthly father, for my heart to shine and say break me if you can. My heart is strong enough simply because I endure the pain and suffering which says my love for others is rightly placed. Vulnerability increases the capacity for love simply because that’s what the heart is for, the more it’s used the stronger it gets.
My uncle died just over a year ago and his heart was so locked up in a casket just like C.S. Lewis’ description above and his home was a sad reflection of a man who was afraid of his own love for people. My uncle was surrounded by books on just about every subject imaginable but his own knowledge of affection and love was unable to transcend his ideas of vulnerability. To him vulnerability was a weakness to be shunned and mocked and to become fearful. After he passed I had to go and empty his flat of all his belongings, it was a lesson in how not to live a life. It broke my heart to see how one person can be so afraid of loving. I vowed never to repeat it. ;