God spoke to me a few mornings ago in bed, two commands; “Be vulnerable. Live as princess.” A vulnerable princess, huh, Lord? Sounded like an odd juxtaposition to me, loaded with negative and vain imagery. I had watched the movie, “The Queen” on a flight prior to that morning. The story takes place inside Buckingham Palace and sepulchers in which the royals have shut themselves up with their servants and riches. Told in quiet scenes of proper behavior and guarded speech, the Queen Elizabeth is icy-cool and resolves to keep the royal family separate from the emotions of the rest of the country. I guess, the Queen of England herself, despite being a familiar real-life model, was definitely not a good reference to the perplexity God spoke to me about. Let’s look at royalty and vulnerability.
To add to the challenge, as “Christian” adults, we often accept the language of being a princess, or daughter or a son of God and yet still struggle—nearly daily and sometimes hourly—with the internal strife of not knowing how to be who He says we are. Propitiously, being royal is not a position one gets through a desire to be royalty; it is bestowed through inheritance and by birth. E.g. Prince Harry didn’t choose to be a royal nor did Prince William choose to be the successor to the throne. But there is a choice in being royalty. A royal’s position has to be individually chosen; they have to choose to take up their responsibility as royalty. While they are royal through birth in divine election, the position must be received and accepted volitionally. Perhaps why, the reminder from God to me—I, too, have royal blood. As born-again children of the Most High, I think it is still hard to live as royalty. Especially if you were one of those ones found and called from poverty, being “a pauper”, or from the highways and byways. People who feel like they’re not worthy struggle to accept our Royal bloodline. I have to choose each day, each waking moment, to live not in the abdication, which is my flesh, but in my chosen position as a princess.
The perception that vulnerability is weakness is actually dangerous to a life of living as royalty defined by the Kingdom. Like the opposite model, the royals of England, I had spent my life pushing away and protecting myself from feeling vulnerable or from being perceived as “too emotional”, willing to mask feelings, suck it up and soldier on.
To feel is to be vulnerable. So to believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. One of my heroes Brené Brown, defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure”. With this definition in mind, let’s think about the way God loves us and the way He calls us to love. Love is uncertain. It’s incredibly risky. And loving someone leaves us emotionally exposed. It’s very scary and we are open to being hurt. But I can’t imagine my life without loving or being loved. Can you?
The profound danger as noted above, is we start to think of feeling as weakness. (With the exception of anger which is a secondary emotion.) For example, being geographically far from many I hold close to my heart, I miss many people. Yet letting them know every single time I missed them made me feel “the feels” and so I stoppped. I feared the disappointment of how I feel not be reciprocated, or worse, people have moved on and I am forgotten. So I don’t say it as much, or reveal it, to avoid feeling, to avoid disappointment, to avoid rejection.
Regrettably, vulnerability a.k.a feeling, was wrongly and deeply connected to my value and worth, and gauged with whether I felt like a Princess or not. And these are some of the times I felt vulnerable: I felt vulnerable when I found myself alone in a new unfamiliar town. I felt vulnerable when I went to an event in my hometown not knowing if old friends would still want to be my friend. I felt vulnerable when I stepped into a new church with no nobody I knew. I felt vulnerable when I walked into a gym looking for a community of people my age that I could connect with. I felt vulnerable when I handed in my resumes to potential bosses. I felt vulnerable asking people to pray for me. Do these situations sound like weaknesses? And would God see them as weaknesses? Nope. Vulnerability actually sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable but they are never weakness.
If this is vulnerability, it is then absolutely synonymous with being royalty. With this new revelation, I realized vulnerability and Princessship is not at all a juxtaposition. It’s even more helpful to look at the etymology of the word vulnerable. The word “vulnerable” is derived from the Latin word vulnerare, meaning “to wound, to be open to attack or damage. The Dictionary defines the word weakness as “the inability to withstand attack or wounding.” It’s clear that vulnerability and weakness a very different concept and in fact I could argue that weakness is actually a lack of vulnerability. Because when we don’t acknowledge how and where we are tender, we are more at risk of not knowing who we are.
I didn’t, but God knew exactly what he meant when he called me to be a vulnerable princess. As I was open to risk and share my process with the scary outside world, I was beginning to discover myself, and the Princess in me.