As human beings, we are hardwired to seek companionship and intimacy. Like wolves, lions, deer and buffalo, as a species, our survival is dependent on our ability to work together. Beyond mere survival, however, we thrive when we learn to work together in mutually supportive, peaceful and harmonious ways and in ways that seek to work for the individual as well as the common good. During midlife and in the birth of the Soul, this drive becomes even more urgent as we realize the finite nature of our existence and are forced to confront and make peace with the places where loving, harmonious connections were not supported. In order to move through this delicate period of transition, we discover that the most valuable quality we can cultivate within ourselves, is the courage to be vulnerable. Today’s blog addresses this courage.
In a recent discussion with a colleague and business partner, I was reminded of the pain of vulnerability and the courage it takes to become the people God/dess made us to be. We were enjoying a deep conversation about life when the innocent question was posed, “Lauri, how did you get to where you are today?” I paused, looking for the right response to his question, then I heard myself saying, “It started when the universe fell in on me.” Then I told the story that began thirteen years ago and is still unfolding today. I realized at one point in telling the story how truly uncomfortable I was telling this tale. I’ve told the story a million times in my writing, but rarely within the intimacy of a one-on-one, face-to-face, conversation. In telling the story, I was no longer Lauri “the teacher, minister, healer, writer, published author, leader,” I was the Lauri that is wounded, vulnerable, terrified, and alone. I was reminded of how difficult it is to be this Lauri and was grateful when the doorbell rang so that this topic could be put back on the shelf.
The Courage to Be Vulnerable
But the conversation isn’t over. In fact, it is just beginning. If we wish to allow for the birth of our Soul – the uniquely creative way in which we have been gifted to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in our lives and the way in which we are called to contribute to the betterment of the world – then the most important thing we can do for ourselves is to learn how to be vulnerable. In the Western culture, it is most often during midlife (menopause and perimenopause) that our Soul begins to exert its pressure on us as it seeks to be known and realized in our lives. In birthing our Soul, we have to confront all the painful things of our past – name them, process them, heal, and release or transform them. In confronting the pain of our past, we are acknowledging our humanness – that we are imperfect and flawed – that we suffer and that sometimes we are the cause of suffering. In confronting our past, we are also invited to cultivate forgiveness – forgiveness of our own imperfections and forgiveness of the flaws and imperfections of others. In order to confront our past and cultivate forgiveness, we have to be vulnerable – we have to set down the illusion of how we want others to see us, release the mask of who we want to believe we are, and set down the shield of our counterfeit strength. Instead, we have to stand naked before ourselves, and naked before the world as human beings – afraid, vulnerable, weak and often feeling alone.
Vulnerability and True Courage
It is in learning to be vulnerable, in admitting our humanness, that we discover authentic courage. Authentic courage comes out of our willingness to be vulnerable – not only to ourselves, but more importantly, with another. When we can set down the shields of counterfeit strength and stand naked before one another, we find true intimacy – the kind of intimacy that God/dess offers to us, desires from us and envisions as possible within the human race. It is only in true intimacy where we discover the seeds of the compassionate love, mutual honor and respect, and harmonious interdependence that we were created to experience and make manifest in the world. And it is only in cultivating this kind of harmonious interdependence that, as a species, we can ever hope to move beyond mere survival (which we are barely accomplishing at this point in our evolution) into the thriving enthusiasm and joy that God/dess intends for us to know.
Lauri Lumby supports women and men in their search for authentic courage through one-on-one mentoring. To learn more or set up your own session, call (920) 230-1313 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.