“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
–C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)
I was feeling puzzled on that last day. As you know, if you have been following this series of posts (starting here), I felt like I got a lot out of the 30 days. However, it had not gone at all like I expected, what with the strained hamstring and falling-domino-like pain travelling from joint to tendon to muscle.
I had to face the loss of my illusions of what my body can handle and the death of my expectations of how quickly I would be able to get back in shape. Our ideas and assumptions about our bodies amount to a good chunk of our identities, so unravelling these expectations did not leave me totally groundless, but I did feel off-balance (a little ironic during a yoga program). Coming to the end of the commitment did not mean that the lessons of the month had coalesced. I felt more like I had been gathering manna than as if I had bought a warm loaf of bread. All these pieces—what to do with them?
I logged in to my email and saw that Brené Brown had a new post on her blog. When I opened the post, I read the above quote.
I suddenly saw in my yoga adventure an amazing metaphor to the journey my heart has been on over the last several years. I’ve been a committed Christian for as long as I can remember, and I threw myself heart and soul into relationship with God, self, and others with the belief that Jesus was the healer of our souls. I got my heart broken.
The quote talks about how guarded we feel when we have been hurt, and about the high cost of carrying that protectiveness to the extreme. In my zeal to get in shape, I pushed a little too hard and found my limits the hard way. One response would be to stop exercising for fear of hurting myself worse. I did not want to do that. The cost was too high. So I kept getting gentler and gentler with my physical movements, trying to find the place where I could keep my body active and moving without causing damage that would take much longer to heal.
If I can approach my body with this gentle experimentation, trying to find movement that fits the reality of where my body is, then I can bring the same attitude to dealing with my heart.
After all the spiritual, emotional, and relational upheaval of the last few years, I feel cautious about making friends. I am fearful of allowing myself to be authentic because I feel so very vulnerable. (That, and because having my identity unravel makes it hard to know how to even be myself!) I still feel guarded with God and very mistrustful of everything I thought I knew about him. But I can approach all of those places gently and experiment with the balance of how to love, stay engaged, and risk brokenheartedness while working with the reality of where I am.
I learn lessons about the unseen so much better when my body demonstrates those lessons for me physically. That is what happened through the 30 Days of Yoga program. Thank you for allowing me to share the story with you. I look forward to taking C.S. Lewis’ encouragement to heart—to take greater risks in loving—while also listening to the story my body is telling me, and taking those risks gently.