I've had a very interesting start to this New Year. It seems like a lot of shifting and shaking and then settling has occurred in certain relationships and now things seem a little clearer and obvious. By clearer I don't necessarily mean better or improved or enjoyable- but a lot of hidden things have been brought to the surface.
Cream will rise to the top, but so will problems and old issues. Maybe it's like doing some much needed house cleaning and you suddenly find out that back behind your stove, things are pretty bad. But you can now deal with it (such as invite your friends to come over and see what a lousy stove-cleaner you've been). Or clean it (in stoic silence and nobody will be the wiser after you've done your cleaning). Or just decide to ignore it (in which case the world won't fall apart at the thought of your dirty stove and neither will you).
Last night Abby and I watched the first half of Tess of the d'Urbervilles on Masterpiece Theatre. Abby wasn't too sold on this gloomy look at Victorian England's morals and biases, and by the end of this first segment aired, I decided "Enough!" as well. It is beautifully filmed and there's some interesting symbolism and authorial protests about the time, but it's also just plain depressing.
One television critic aptly described what was bothering me the whole time I watched the movie- it was Tess's "perpetual vulnerability" that seemed to haunt me, encourage me, scare and plague me. How vulnerable do I want to be? How vulnerable should I be? And what about the sub culture we're in- and how it defines vulnerability? Some people call it being completely honest and transparent. Some people think it's foolishness to be so vulnerable and overexposed. Some people prey on other's vulnerability and some people praise it. In terms of computer security, vulnerability has to do with a weakness in the system whereby you are open to a lot of problems, bugs, and viruses.
I'm not sure Scripture talks much about this trait of vulnerability, even though many professing Christians seem to be characterized by excessive vulnerability. (I could even be one of those confessing vulnerable ones). It certainly isn't listed as one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, for example. If anything, I almost wonder if Jesus was alluding to this susceptibility to unnecessary exposure to trouble when He said to "be as wise as a serpent and as gentle (innocent) as a dove" (Matthew 10:16).
Both of these comparisons intrigue me and challenge me. It's not exactly a comforting thought to be compared to a snake in anything (unless you happen to be a snake lover). But it seems Jesus is getting at the discreet nature of a snake that has to plan when it strikes out and when it needs to quietly slither away. Likewise, when He mentions the dove, is He alluding to its innocence and purity ( a more obvious upfront conclusion) or something else as well? The Greek word akeraios not only means "innocent" but "unmixed" as well. And the first thing I think of is pure motives verses mixed motives.
Is vulnerability a good thing? And what about godly people, or people who are trying to know God- is vulnerability a sign of something intrinsically good in you, or something in you that is inviting trouble?
I think I often share (quickly share) some of my weaknesses, upfront, with people because it seems to set the stage better for their not being aghast, later, at what they find out about me. On the other hand, I can be guarded and private and a resolutely flaming introvert who demands privacy and a certain amount of cloistering away of my soul. At times I think I am too vulnerable, and at times I don't think I've been honest and "unmixed" at all.
Who's to say that the topic of vulnerability will lead us anywhere enlightening, but I'd really like to know if you struggle with this issue or if you see yourself clearly on one side of it. Cause all I know right now is that I have a dirty stove that needs to be cleaned, relational issues I have to sort through, and a disclaimer that all this talk of vulnerability started simply because I saw Tess of the d'Urbervilles's big eyes and vulnerable heart- and didn't know what to think after that.