Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Accepting my Vulnerability

In less than two months, my husband and I will be done with seminary. Aside from that fact, we have absolutely no idea what our lives will look like. We have a certain hope about what it will look like, but it involves things working out that are beyond our control. As the time for graduation has gotten closer-- and as this vision for our lives has gotten clearer-- I find myself in the really uncomfortable place of wanting something desperately, and being powerless to secure it. 

In short, I'm encountering the reality of my creatureliness. Despite what I was told as a child in Disney films and despite what I've heard all my life from "the American dream," there's a point at which my hard work, good intentions, and star-wishing fall short of controlling the world around me. Let me say it practically: even with a good education, a good work ethic, and good connections, I could still not get a job when I graduate. And so the reality is that there is a vulnerability to my life, a dependence upon Someone or something other than myself in the unfolding of my own story. 

This is a harrowing reality, and I think it's the reason so many of us actively seek to remain ignorant of it: we grasp for the feeling of control or power over our own lives and then drown out the gnawing sensation of vulnerability through whatever means available. We numb it with just enough alcohol to take the edge off; we rage against it by maintaining a "perfect" body or the upper hand in romantic relationships, or we distract ourselves from it by working so hard and so long that at the end of a 16-hour day all we have energy left to think about is sleep.  

In my own life, this "defense" against the sting of my own powerlessness is to pretend I don't really care what happens. If I remain callous to my options for the future-- If I don't really admit to myself or anyone else how badly I want it-- then maybe the pain of rejection or loss will be lessened somehow. And yet this is just as much protecting an illusion as is drinking myself to a stupor night after night. Because the reality is I really want this to work out. And I can act above it all, but in those quiet moments when I find my own guard down, the truth is plain; unprotected; dangerous. 

So what's a girl to do? In the last few months, this tango of desire-and-utter-dependence has helped me to realize something that's a bit of a game-changer: the character of the Creator. See, I am dependent, vulnerable, powerless; but He is not. And while that could be a really scary thought (don't we love and hate the One with the power?) He invites me to ask Him for what I want. He doesn't expect me to stuff my desire or pretend it's not real; rather, He welcomes it to the conversation. As His creature, I'm called to accept my limitations, but not in such a way that would leave me jaded or stoic. Instead, accepting my limitations leads me to greater intimacy with the One who holds my future in His hand. 

God is good. He cares about my hopes and dreams, and doesn't handle my heart lightly or with a trace of vindictiveness. This means I'm safe to ask with abandon-- to freely confide the extent of my desire in Him who calls me not just "creature," but "daughter." And because He is both good and the One with the power, I can sleep at night knowing that His answer-- His plan-- is one that I can accept, whatever it is. It might be "yes" to what I'm asking. It might be "no." But either way, He is trustworthy. 

No comments: