A friend sent me this quote yesterday, and I’m putting it here for safe keeping.
“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
This friend asked me if I thought young adults were more susceptible to burying their hearts than other demographics. I’m not sure I’d phrase it that way. Isn’t any human being of any age susceptible to fear? And isn’t it ultimately fear of vulnerability that would lead to wrapping up the heart and storing it away in a “safe place”?
Still, I would say that the longer we remain single, the easier it is to keep the heart boxed up. We get used to our “hobbies and little luxuries,” we fall into a set routine, and we discover that life is comfortable this way. I’m guilty of this, and I suspect many of us are in some way. It comes out in different ways for different people: in refusing to confront issues that make us angry or sad or hurt with those closest to us; in jumping from one friend or group of friends to the next because we refuse to get “caught up” in relationships (and not just romantic relationships); in constant dating and then finding ourselves disenchanted; or in refusing to date because we’re pretty sure we’re not interested; in insisting we’re fine even when we’re not, because we don’t want to look weak or silly in front of our friends. I could go on and on and on.
But I leave this post with a question, along with the quote: what are ways in which we catch ourselves burying our hearts on a daily basis to avoid vulnerability? Of course I’m not asking for a WordPress confession, but just posing the question so you can ask it of yourself.
One more thought to ponder: what is the greatest casualty of the refusal to be vulnerable? Every chick flick ever made warns that unless we break down our barriers we’ll end up alone. And while that’s got some truth to it, I don’t think being alone is the real tragedy in this. It’s what Lewis alludes to above: When we let our hearts harden in their coffins, we become irredeemable. If we can’t let the people around us break in, how will we learn to let God break in?
Thanks to good friends who send C. S. Lewis quotes on Monday mornings. You know who you are..