I was in a book study a few years back with a Man, capital M. He was tall, burly, a hefty, baseball-cap, sports t-shirt wearing Guy.
As we went around the room sharing why we were there and what we hoped to get out of it, this Man said he was afraid this process would turn him into a marshmallow. That at the end of this, he’d be weak and soft, that opening to his humanity would expose him irrevocably. We nodded in shared understanding. Opening oneself is never easy, as our ego-minds — flashing warning signs — remind us repeatedly.
By the end of the year-long group, this Man was indeed softer. He laughed more easily, he shared more deeply, he allowed his vulnerabilities to be witnessed. He had turned into a marshmallow.
He had also turned into an entirely stronger version of himself. His vulnerability and humanity made him approachable, communal, and this community strengthened him further. His supposed “weakness” was now a great strength, showing confidence, authenticity, and self-possession.
I, myself, am being called to soften, particularly in my romantic life — perhaps one of the most intimate places we are called to grow.
In his kitchen, in his arms the other morning, I said to my boyfriend, “You’re going to melt me.”
Like the Man of the book group, I am scared that my melting will expose me. Will lay me vulnerable… To what?!, I have to ask myself. Oh, Love, you are so misinterpreted by me:
Love lays you open to breakage.
Love, my fear touts, is a sedentary bull in a china shop: You’ll be picking up broken pieces sooner or later.
But, I am not a china shop and my inner world is not a precious porcelain museum. It is a dynamic, industrious candy factory. (…Sure, why not!) And allowing people, a person, a beloved person into that factory, well, I can only see that he will appreciate my colors and flavors, and help me see that I can do the same of myself. And of him.
For many years, Love has been dressed (and addressed) as a risk. But really, it’s just a curious visitor hoping for something sweet.