I’m learning a lot about vulnerability and risk lately. For much of my life I have worked at not being vulnerable. I’ve been vulnerable before. It sucked. I got beat up and kicked in the crotch. Without going into too much more detail, let’s just say it wasn’t pleasant. But what I have learned is that you cannot love with out being vulnerable. To love another person is to accept that they may let you down, not live up to expectations, or even reject you. Loving another person is an act of vulnerability as reciprocation may not happen and cannot be forced.
And the inverse is even more painful and more true.
You cannot be loved without being vulnerable. Oh, you can project an image that is loved, but the you tucked under the fake security covers of pretense will not be loved. For that person to be loved you must vulnerably crawl out from under the covers and be seen.
It’s scary as hell.
But it is the only way to love and be loved in this life. I believe it. I know it. I’ve experienced it.
However, I have a problem when the love-vulnerability conversation gets put upon God.
The argument is that, as described above, love must be vulnerable. God is love. Therefore, God is vulnerable.
I’m not buying it. Not completely.
I do believe Jesus made himself vulnerable. I believe Jesus opened himself up to ridicule, mockery, chastisement, hatred, rejection, betrayal, and death. The case for the vulnerability of God is a strong one. So I’ll concede: in the incarnation God became vulnerable.
But that doesn’t mean love is meant to be vulnerable.
I believe that, if you want to see real love, you need to look no further than the relationships of the eternal, Triune God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit existing in perfect harmony. Each fully themselves. Each giving to the other. Each fully loving the other. Each limitless in their relation to the other. But I do not see vulnerability or risk. I do not see the Father risking loss with the Son. Nor the Son risking pain with the Spirit. It doesn’t matter how you pair them up; I do not see vulnerability and risk in the Godhead. That’s the picture of love. Love as it is supposed to be. Love without vulnerability or risk. To say there has to be risk in love is to make the love between Father, Son, and Spirit anthropocentric because we cannot imagine love without risk.
But don’t you want it to be true?
When sin worked its way into the world, it fractured everything. Shame caused the involuntary reaction of hiding one from the other. What once was in the open became hidden. Sexuality broke. Injustice reared its head. Relationships fractured. Brother killed brother.
Love’s vulnerability is a post-Genesis 3 reality. I just wonder if it is designed to be. Is vulnerability necessary only when loves object is imperfect? Or when the lover is imperfect? Are vulnerability and love meant to be eternally linked?
I hope not.
Honestly, don’t you long for a relationship in which you can be fully yourself, out from behind the security of covers, and not vulnerable? We all want it. And I don’t think it just fear that makes us desire that type of relationship. Just like I don’t think it is fear that makes us long for a world restored. Our souls long for it because our souls, while not immortal or eternal, remember a world as it was meant to be. We were not created to live in a world that knows suffering and death. We know this. This truth rattles deep in our bones. And maybe, in the same way, we were not created to be in relationships where love requires vulnerability. Maybe we were created to know love as the Father and Son know love.
Perfect love drives out fear.
Fear of being hurt. Fear of being let down. Fear of being rejected – driven out by perfect love.
That’s the intended design of love. That’s the restored picture of love. Until then, vulnerability is necessary, and love is worth it.