In 2020 I received a new label that I wasn't prepared for; "vulnerable". That label is not necessarily bad, but when put in the context of 2020, I found it to be confusing and hurtful. Depending who was talking, or what news outlet was on, when they said "vulnerable", it came across as, "you are not important enough" and at the same time, "you are precious". And on any given day I didn't know which one I was.
By definition vulnerable means; capable of being wounded or hurt, open to attack. It has the connotation of weakness or need of protection and defense. Children are vulnerable. Some handicapable people might be considered vulnerable. And now, apparently, I was too. And again, it is not necessarily a bad thing, but put in the context of 2020, it was confusing and hurtful. Because people began to see those who were now being labeled vulnerable as "less than" as "unimportant" and I sensed a sentiment for some that if it wasn't for us, 2020 wouldn't have been as it was.
Soon, I began to hear and read a lot of things that were harmful and that quite frankly hurt. Things like, "vulnerable people are going to die anyway"or, "they should just stay inside while the rest of us go out". I even read a suggestion that vulernable people be placed in empty sports stadiums similar to the internment camps of the 1930s and 40s so that "the normal people can go back to their normal lives".
On lockdown with the rest of the world, I didn't have much else to do but listen to those hurtful words, and they were getting louder and louder. 'Maybe', I thought, 'if I say something, people will realize what they are saying and stop.' So I tried to change minds with nice words. But that didn't work. I tried to fight back a little. But that got exhausting. I found myself becoming upset and sad. Upset that people felt as if my life didn't matter as much as their desire to eat at restaurant. And sad that because of people's outright disgreard for others, I had no choice but to stay isolated for weeks and month on end. The sadness soon turned to anxiety and it became extreme. I would constantly worry about my family and my friends. I would have moments of panic. Nightmares began to wake me up in the middle of the night convinced that something terrible was happening to people that I loved. It seemed that no matter how much I prayed and cried out to God, nothing was changing.
The year kept rolling right along, seemingly getting worse and worse. It erupted in the spring when outrage over the death of George Floyd sparked global protests. Now not only was I confused by my own new label, but I was confused by the horrificness of mankind. People causing deadly harm to others, just because of pure hate in their hearts. Cities being destroyed out of outrage and anger. Supposed christians, fighting with other christians on Facebook instead of practicing love. God's heart had to be breaking in half. I know mine was. And the anxiety kept on coming. Overwhelming me. I felt like I wanted to talk about it all the time and also never talk about it again. I wanted to hide. Under a blanket and in my room. I hid out until I felt like it was safe to come out.
It wasn't safe for a long time. It started to become more exhausting to hide out then it was to be embrace the change that was happening. I slowly began to realize that we all have something that makes us vulnerable. We all have things that we can't do on our own. We need help from others, and most definitely from God. We all have weaknesses. We are all capable of being hurt at some point by something or someone. We all need to be protected. None of that is unknown to God. He created us with a vulnerability that allows Him to be and do all that for us. But nothing can happen if we are hunkered down under the covers hiding out and waiting for people to be nicer to each other.
Perhaps it was the sweet notes and gifts from friends. Perhaps it was the packages of love and journals and cupcakes from cousins. Perhaps it was the Facetimes and phone calls with family members talking about everything and nothing at the same time. Perhaps those people coming around me, loving me, praying for me, perhaps that's where I got the courage to make get up, get out, and make a change. Perhaps it was the sunshine on my face that I know was a reminder that the creator of the universe knew it exactly where I was, saw me for who I was and loved me still, and just the same, that allowed me make a move I hadn't ever made.
One day, around the end of May, I decided I was tired of letting fear and anxiety rule me and I was going to do something about it. I was tired of not sleeping. I was tired of my thoughts spiraling. I was tired of people having to talk me down and bring me back to reality over and over again. I wanted to gain back control. I wanted to live in peace from my own mind. I wanted to walk in the purpose and the plan God has for me. I wanted His truths to be my reality. I wanted to stop praying for it and to actively work towards it.
Actions speak louder than words. I found that time and time again to be true. I acted. I found a counselor. And we meet once a month. And we are working on tools to help when I'm feeling anxious or having moments of anxiety as well as ways to prevent the anxiety as much as possible. I've also done a deep dive in to Bible Studies about overcoming fear and anxiety. Both Christine Caine and Louie Giglio had free virtual ones that came right to my inbox. That timing could not have been better! I read Rhythms of Renewal by Rebekah Lyons (highly recommend!) and started Scriptures for Anxiety by The Daily Grace Co. because I am certain that understanding more of who God is, how He loves, and what His plans and purpose are for me are the key to overcoming and walking in peace.
I've accepted it. The label that is. I am vulnerable. Writng this right now makes me vulnerable. It means I am showing inability to do it in my own strength. It means I'm letting whoever might read this take a peak at my imperfections and my weakness. And I admit it. I am vulnerable. Admiting that you are vulnerable is good, even as the world tried to tell me it made me "less than". It means that I am in need of something I can't do on my own. I am a person in need of a Savior. And I can not get through this life with peace and joy and true fulfillment without Him.
It goes without saying that 2020 was a year of hard things after hard days after hard times. And we can rest assured that on even on the hardest day we faced, God was still near. Because He said that He would be with us, He would never leave us or forsake us. Even though we walk through the valley of shadow of death, He is with us. (Psalm 23) Being with Him means I have to let Him in. Understanding and experiencing His peace means I have to accept that I don't have it on my own. I have to allow Him to be the God I know Him to be in my life. I have to let myself be my most vulnerable with Him.
Dear God, Thank you for allowing me a place to be vulnerable, for giving me a place of protection, for being strong in my weakness and for protecting me from, and walking with me though, the things that hurt. In this new year, help me to sense Your presence and Your peace, to stand firmer on the truths of Your word and who I know You to be. In 2021, may there be more of You and less of me. Amen.