Day 9: VIOLATION
Isaiah 24:5 The earth lies polluted
under its inhabitants;
for they have transgressed laws,
violated the statutes,
broken the everlasting covenant.
Tonight, at a training for new volunteers working with recent refugees, the coordinator reminded us that vulnerability is not the same as weakness. Vulnerability has to do with being on the underside of a power dynamic – the person without information or language or resource in relationship with another person or community that does have all that. Vulnerability is not weakness.
Without vulnerability, no one gets to learn. Without vulnerability, growth is really hard. That position – being the one without – makes us vulnerable. But being without can make us curious. Being without can make us creative. Being without (information or money or certainty or community) can make us strong.
I confess that I get confused about the relationship of vulnerability and violation. Vulnerability, I assume, will leave me open to being violated. So, instead, I pretend to be the one WITH. If I already have everything I could possibly need, then no one can ever hurt me. But being with can make me anxious. Being with can make me boring. Being with can make me weak.
It feels like this year has stripped a lot of my protective shield away. I moved to a new place, became a solo pastor, lost my mentor, got caught in an institutional shake-up, and ended several important relationships. The election results jolted me, and I only realized weeks later that the jolting felt like a continuation of this peeling away of protective layer after protective layer.
I am feeling particularly vulnerable, these days, and I am trying to lean into that instead of running from it. I am trying to remind myself that vulnerability is not weakness, that vulnerability does not invite violation, that vulnerability is, in fact, a way toward strength. I am trying to be curious and creative and honest. Here: this writing is one of those tries.