The new self reflective worry. The latest social conspiracy that she now has to wonder about. The most recent awakening to victimization, that has to reach down deep and test the soul. What if they are talking about her. What if she became caught up in something that she never saw coming. What if she, too, is bound up in this destructive crisis, unknowingly, unwillingly, unable to help herself.
They search for the foundation for what goes wrong in relationships. They enlighten the culture with our deep perversions that everyone knows about, but no talks about. They open their ears and arms and no shame identity to those less fortunate, those who are helpless, those who need relief. And they are noble to do so.
And now she must wonder. Is this her burden to bear? Her evil to confront? Her explanation for the struggle? Certainly she has felt used. Of course life has been unfair. And everywhere she looks right now, there are social saviors posting to her rescue. That she may be a product of a sick society. That her desire and aspirations may have been groomed for heartbreak. That she is totally vulnerable.
Vulnerable. Another social evil. Not one that she actively seeks, of course, rather an oppression laid upon her. Selfish monsters preying on the innocent. Porn-infused disembodied voices lurking behind every text. Hidden slave masters laying in wait to take advantage of a vulnerable girl, only for their benefit. It’s true. It happens. On large scales and small. The vulnerable are crushed.
But that is not an entirely honest reflection the problem she faces. That the most sexy sin of the month is the root of relationship failure. That she is hurt and abused by those whom she would call family and friends. Her vulnerability is not really the problem. And the exposure of such a state doesn’t offer any good answer. Could anyone delete the history of sin and shame to produce a utopia where she may be safe? Should she fear every human interaction to lead her down the road of regret? Strong, individual, in control, that seems like it should be the solution to her vulnerable problem. But her vulnerability is not the problem, at all.
In fact, vulnerability is fundamental in meaningful human relationships. Babies, totally dependent on their parents for years of their life are created completely vulnerable. Friends, sharing pieces of their thoughts and their lives build vulnerability as life goes on. Man and woman, seeking to connect deeply, choose to be vulnerable with one another. The un-vulnerable life keeps people at a safe strong distance, which does appear to be a popular way to live in our pandemic civilization. And the un-vulnerable life will end up very lonely.
Even more distasteful to the modern virtue, our Lord embodies vulnerable. Not as a way to overcome the “problem” of vulnerability, but rather every single problem with our world is overcome by vulnerability. God piercing this monstrous timeline as a defenseless infant. Throwing aside His eternal strength and power to wash feet and be spit upon. Encouraging His followers to forgive recklessly and endlessly, to turn the other cheek, to love one another just as He lay down His life for His friends.
Her vulnerability is not a problem to be solved. Her vulnerability is not a flaw to be protected. Her vulnerability is a crack in the self-preserving cell that has locked her lonely. Of course she feels safe inside, where no one can touch her, no one can hurt her, no one can mold her, no one can break her. Of course it is scary to let a bit of strength crumble, because it will open her up to be hurt.
And hurt she will. Because she resides in a screwed up dying world. She lives among a people with unclean lips and abominable actions. She, herself, oppresses and is the oppressed. And it is all messed up beyond moral and civil repair. Even though she will try to trust, attempt to love, choose to be vulnerable in parts, it will be answered to some degree in disappointment and pain. This is her burden to bear. This is her evil to confront. Sorrow unresolved, small pieces and large chunks. But, the problem is not that she is vulnerable. The problem is that today she must exchange vulnerability with selfish sinners, who is every one of us.
Where is the hope, what can she do? Resign to a life of loneliness? Revolve in a cycle of broken hearted expectations? Blame the other sinners and enact empty solutions? Is she really even shocked at the violence of this age? Can she really do anything much to make this world a better place?
But the world has already changed. He who chose to be vulnerable, even unto death on a cross, said something earth and kingdom shattering. This word on the lips of the One who was lifted high in vulnerability commanded a new reality. His eternal breath spread over the rotten creation one afternoon, and it responded. He said, “It is finished,” and it was.
The current crisis enflamed in the news, it is finished. The fear of hurt and shame, it is finished. The glory for being a little better than your neighbor, it is finished. The pressure to keep oneself from vulnerability, it is finished. Jesus died and rose so that the vulnerable could live freely and inherit the renewed earth. It is finished.
She goes forward with confidence in her vulnerability. That today she will open her heart to heartbreak. That tomorrow she will give herself even when it doesn’t work for her benefit. That words on the lips and in the ears of sinners will continue prick her inner being, shame her, sting her. But it will only hurt for a minute, because it is finished.