I have encountered many wounded hearts in my life - one of them occupied my own chest. And while I would catch glimpses of freedom, of absolute gratitude and oneness with the world, I often found myself, observed in others, the shrinking away from great risk. One of those risks happened to be love.
The human instinct to protect itself is born from the many pains we encounter in life. It is natural, but it can be hurtful. We build defenses, we collect them with each betrayal, each painful moment that leaves a mark. We lash out, we shut down. Our minds seek to protect us, to keep us functioning, and so we become defensive and stubborn, we decide to dislike certain people and things because we know that those people, those things, have hurt us before.
And we don't live out these memories just once, we punish ourselves continuously. We allow our pain to turn into fear, to become jealousy and anger, distance and sadness, insecurity and doubt. And these fears hold us back – from risk, from adventure, from trust and love, from forgiveness and compassion. We hold ourselves so close, keep ourselves so contained, that we stop living, willfully limit our capacity for happiness.
Being vulnerable is not easy, of course. It requires forgiveness, compassion and patience. It requires living only in the moment and continual observance of the self. We must be able to recognize when our walls appear and honestly asses why. Sometimes it will be painful, re-living memories in order to let them go, putting trust into the world without the safety of a net. Sometimes it will become hard to commit to kindness and compassion, admitting to our own mistakes and finding the compassion to forgive others for theirs. The mind will rebel, it will tell us that holding onto the past makes us stronger, it will toss our experiences around and justify our assumptions, our anger. This is fear and we must forgive our mind its shortcomings.
There will be failure, sometimes our vulnerability will seem a weakness. Our minds will remind us of how safe it seemed from behind those walls and we will not always be a perfect example of vulnerability, compassion or patience. But we must keep trying because it will do something incredible – it will open our hearts.
And as the heart opens, as we engage in compassion and forgiveness, as we adopt the possibility of each moment without expectation, without bearing the weight of the world or adopting the pain of others, each of us will find that our ability to love, to receive love, is without limit. The world will be experienced with the joy of a child, there will be adventure in every step. We will realize everything about the world is beautiful beyond measure, that we are perfect in every way, and that our happiness depends only on ourselves.
The world will still be dark, people will continue to hurt other people, and by opening our hearts we will risk seeing that darkness with the eyes of complete vulnerability and compassion, but that’s okay. The darkness will contrast the light, the pain will demand the presence of more love, and while it will not be easy it will be worth it. Why?
You deserve unconditional love. You are perfect and you are beautiful. Everything you need, everything you've been looking for, is in your heart. Forgiveness, compassion and love are never a weakness, and if they are weakness looks good on you. You were made for happy exploration. You were made to give. And if you are not ready right now, one day you will be. Be vulnerable.
You are not alone.