by Steven Taylor
Vulnerability…why does this word stir up anxiety among so many in society? Is it because vulnerability reveals too much of us? Or is it because we want others to accept the “mask” that we love to put on as we go out into the world?
I am convinced that one of the reasons most of society is uncomfortable with the disability community is because of the discomfort of being vulnerable. The disability community is one of the most vulnerable populations in the world and is also one of the most misunderstood. When people encounter those with disabilities, I believe it is a reminder of how fragile life is and that any person can and likely will become a member of the disability community at some point. As a result, society chooses to ignore or silence anyone who appears to be vulnerable. This is unfortunate; the disability community has tremendous gifts to share with the world and desires the opportunity to thrive in community with others. If people would accept vulnerability as a gift and not a burden, then the barriers that exist between populations could begin to fall and communication would exist!
Being vulnerable is not easy. It took me a long time to be vulnerable with others. This did not happen until my last conversation with my father, who passed away four years ago this past Saturday. You see, I was transitioning to a new phase in my life—going into ministry. I had just told my family that I was going to attend seminary. My dad, who was not a religious man, was taken aback and was reluctant to accept this decision. That changed, however, during our last conversation. We talked about so many things that morning—things we had never shared with one another. He concluded our conversation by telling me he was proud of my decision to attend seminary and for me to have the courage to share my testimony with others. Ultimately, I needed to serve the community that God had called me to serve…the disability community. Two hours later, my father passed away unexpectedly. Since that conversation, I have embraced the concept of being vulnerable with others because it opens up possibilities for amazing things to happen.
May we all reconsider our thoughts on vulnerability and recognize the possibilities that could exist if we would only get to know one another!