Vulnerability

I met my friend, Miriam, in November 2014.  We both entered the iPEC Coach training in Philadelphia, wanting to become professional life coaches.  She is a woman who has incredible strength, perseverance, tenacity, guts, compassion, and a huge heart.  She has quite a story.

Miriam was married to an airline pilot.  They had two children.  Living life outside of Philadelphia, they, as the saying goes, had it all.  Great careers, wonderful home, 2 beautiful children.  Then September 11, 2001 happened.  Miriam’s husband was one of the pilots on the plane that hit the 2nd tower in New York City.  Her life changed in a tragic instant.  She was now a young widow with 2 small children to take care of and protect.  She had every right to be angry and bitter at the world for what happened to her husband and her life.  She was now exposed, alone, and vulnerable.

Vulnerable, at its root, is a word that means “to wound, hurt or injure.”  Miriam was wounded deeply, to the core, to her very soul.  I can only imagine the internal anguish and anger that would be present in any person’s life when such a tragedy happens.

That word, vulnerable seems limited.  It limits our vulnerability to only being wounded.  Yet, there can be more.  There was more to Miriam than meets the eye.  The woman I met at coach training was a strong, resilient, intelligent, vibrant, loving woman whose presence was large in the room!  She was someone who allowed her tragedy and vulnerability to transform her.  Instead of becoming hard and distant, she became pliable, able to be moved and molded.  Instead of diminishing and dying, her spirit and life became stronger, larger, more passionate, and more loving.  Life was not going to suck her dry and reduce her to nothing!  She leaned into the experience and gained such beauty and strength!  She became the woman that I met in Philadelphia.  She inspires me and she inspires others because of how she has transformed through this experience.  An experience that was meant to knock her down and keep her small did just the opposite.  It brought out more of who she truly is, the creature of God that she was created to be!

We can be afraid of being vulnerable.  Life will always have experiences for us that will make us vulnerable.  And in that fear and anger, we can retract, recede, and keep ourselves protected.  And maybe we will be ok after the storm has passed.  Yet, my friend, Miriam reminds me that especially when we are vulnerable (by choice or not), we can choose to allow ourselves to be transformed by the experience.  We can learn so much about ourselves, humanity, our world, and even our God.  We grow, we become more, we live a little bit larger, we move more purposefully in life.

Thank you, Miriam, for showing me that being vulnerable and wounded can be an experience where the light still shines in our darkness, and that we ourselves can become beacons of light and life for others.  You truly inspire me!

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