Vulnerability Is…

Recently, I’ve been listening to Brené Brown’s podcast Unlocking Us–cherry picking episodes as the mood moves me. At the end of each episode, Brené asks her guest a series of “quick fire” questions. The first is “Fill in the blank: Vulnerability is _______”.

It’s a question she has asked thousands of people through her decades of research on vulnerability and shame, and the answers vary widely from broad descriptors like “Vulnerability is scary” to very specific scenarios like “Vulnerability is telling your wife you were laid off.” You can read more in her books Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, The Gifts of Imperfection and more, which I highly recommend.

Some thoughts from this weekend’s vulnerable moments:

Vulnerability is Making Friends.

Larkin, my 20-month-old daughter, and I attended a wedding reception for some dear friends. And because I know my girl so well, I knew we would arrive, congratulate our friends, and then hit the dance floor.

Said dance floor was occupied entirely by small children, I’d guess 1 – 6 years of age (though I’ve never been good at guessing ages). Larkin loves to dance, and Larkin LOVES other kids!
Even more than wanting to dance, Larkin wanted to be friends with these children.

She boldly walked up to each and every one: smile big, arms wide, heart open, wordlessly saying, “I’m small like you! You’re small like me! Let’s be friends!”
And time and time again, each child walked away from her to be with their people. They were playing and dancing with their siblings, cousins, and grandmothers, they didn’t need another girl.

And, O, was this Mama’s heart breaking! It took everything I had to not burst into tears. I stayed on the sideline, allowing Larkin to interact, until she was alone on the dance floor, and I stepped in to swoop her up and dance more.

At one point, her little bottom lip puckered out and I could’ve dissolved into a puddle right there, but I stayed present so she would know…feel…that she would find her people. That I would always be one of them. That I choose her.

The kids weren’t trying to be hurtful. They just already had their people. The little 6 year old boy just wanted to dance with his Grandma and he didn’t want to share her, though she was kind and tried to invite my girl in.

Older kids smiled and waved at her but they didn’t join her.

Vulnerability is Asking Again

We danced.
She sat on the edge of the little stage and smiled at the drummer.
And when kids came back, she asked again, the only way she knows how: approaching boldly, smiling widely, and holding her arms out and heart open.

One little boy told her she couldn’t have any of his gummy bears, but he’d show her where they were. She stopped following him once he was off the dance floor because gummy bears weren’t really what she wanted.

And later, though no words were exchanged, she ran back and forth across the dance floor several times with another girl who was maybe 3. Larkin’s face was lit with an enormous smile and her squeals of delight were absolutely joyful.

Vulnerability is Parenting

These children were not deliberately leaving Larkin out, choosing her last, or bemoaning her presence.
Having been through elementary school (and middle school and high school), I know those things will come.
I experienced them.
I did them.
I am in trouble when those times come for Larkin, because these benign rejections simply crushed my heart. Because my Heart was out there running around the dance floor asking to be loved…and the repeated answer was a silent refusal.

Vulnerability is Brave

Some acts of bravery are big–running toward danger to save someone, staying to fight in a war. And some are small: standing in front of someone and asking them to love you, to choose you, to be your friend.

So many times we accept the rejection and stay away because vulnerability opens us up to hurt and being hurt again and again. So, wow, is Asking Again vulnerable and brave.

Sharing what we create–food, art, writing– is vulnerability.
“Here is something I created” is also “Here is an opportunity for you to reject me.”

I pray I can be as brave as my toddler in offering my heart to the world.
She is an inspiration.
And tonight we dance!

One thought on “Vulnerability Is…

  1. Experiencing life through our children’s eyes is incredible, in every way imaginable. Her joy is contagious and an amazing force!

    Thank you for sharing your heart and being vulnerable with us. You are a beautiful soul. I am so glad to know you!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s