First, I apologize that I was not able to publish a challenge last week. I had an accident on Saturday night and couldn’t send what I had written. I will send that challenge at another time when it seems more appropriate.
As many of you know, I fell down a flight of wooden stairs and landed on my face. I sustained a concussion, broke my nose, fractured a vertebra in my upper spine, and received numerous bruises and lacerations. Last Sunday, I looked like a ringer for the best Halloween zombie costume!
After three hours of emergency surgery, I was hospitalized until this past Wednesday and have been recuperating at home since then. Each day I make more progress. Many of the small things I previously took for granted have been such a joy to reintroduce into my day: breathing through my nose, having my taste buds re-emerge, brushing my teeth, reading a book. I do these small, banal activities each day without even thinking, but after days without them, it is so sweet to begin to do them for myself again. Of course, this accomplishment comes after having been completely dependent on others to care for me, from the moment my husband flew down the stairs to help me until I returned home from the hospital.
Herein lies the subject of this week’s challenge: vulnerability. The word vulnerable comes from the Latin vulnera, which means “to wound.” It is defined as, “capable or susceptible of being wounded or hurt, open to moral attack, criticism, difficult to defend.” All of these definitions elicit fear in us. Being completely defenseless and vulnerable with others is an experience we rarely allow to happen. Only when we are unable to defend ourselves from people or circumstances can the experience of being vulnerable occur.
Never have I been more vulnerable than I’ve been this past week. I’ve had no choice but to surrender completely to the care and consideration of others. The joy in this has been to see how incredibly loving and compassionate everyone has been. I have such clear memories from this past week: the elderly Latina ER nurse murmuring, “Parajito herido” (little wounded bird) with such tenderness as she cleaned the blood off my face; the surgeon placing his strong, reassuring hand on my shoulder as they wheeled me into the operating room; and the look of such love and relief on my husband’s face as he held the straw up to my mouth for my first sip of water after surgery. These images are chiseled into my memory.
I am a pretty controlling person. I have a hard time letting other people do things for me without giving them directions or advice. I’m in the business of serving and advising others on a daily basis, which is not uncommon for someone who has a controlling nature. The idea of being vulnerable is abhorrent to people like me. That’s why this past week has been such an eye opener. Being so vulnerable, I’ve had no choice but to let others take care of everything and just receive their love and kindness without resisting. And I can see how that is helping me heal — on a much more profound level than I ever imagined.
This week, consider letting your defenses down for a moment or two to allow others to help you. When someone offers to bring you coffee or pick up your dishes, let them. In meetings, don’t keep talking if you really don’t know the answer to a problem. Stop talking and ask others for help finding the right answer. If you’re having trouble trusting someone, try assuming positive intent and seeing what the outcome is. Sometimes we have to trust a little more than we’re comfortable with to find out that it’s okay. If you’re always the driver, how about sitting in the back seat and letting someone else drive? You may actually enjoy the ride instead of being so determined to get everyone to the destination.
In my moments of vulnerability this week, I received so much more than I would have asked for myself. By not controlling what was happening, things and people came to me naturally, and each gift was exactly what was needed in the moment.
This life, this dream, we so often take for granted — or try to control — can change in an instant. In each moment, we can experience so much love and beauty if we only allow ourselves to receive it. Give yourself time this week to receive what others have to give you. Surrender — there is so little to lose and so much to gain.
Have a good week!
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