When I was younger, I thought that if I just did everything right, my life would go smoothly; I wouldn’t have any problems and people would treat me fairly; and I would generally be happy most of the time.
Of course, it didn’t take me long as a young adult to figure out that this wasn’t true. I realized that we can do everything right (or try to do everything right) and we can still suffer serious setbacks. We can be the best person in the world and still face people who treat us unfairly and not as we deserve at all.
Even when we are doing our best, behaving in a moral way, and even have it seemingly “all together”, life is really, really hard.
Don’t get me wrong. I think life can be beautiful and amazing and have moments that are full of joy.
But we can’t control people. We can’t control life. We can’t even totally control ourselves.
We have limited knowledge and understanding because we are finite human beings. We make a lot of big mistakes (even when we are trying our best) because we just don’t know.
And because there are so many things we can’t control, sometimes we hit big bumps in the road and crash, and it is so painful. I have definitely had those crashes before. (You can read about one here: How Embracing Vulnerability Changed My Life and Why I am Still Working On It)
If you are suffering a lot of pain and feeling vulnerable and afraid, you are a normal human being, and you are not alone. Pema Chodron writes:
“Fear is a universal experience. Even the smallest insect feels it. We wade in the tidal pool and put our finger near the soft, open bodies of sea anemones and they close up. Everything spontaneously does that. It’s not a terrible thing that we feel fear when faced with the unknown. It is part of being alive, something we all share.
We react against the possibility of loneliness, of death, of not having anything to hold onto. Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth [italics mine]…Anyone who stands on the edge of the unknown, fully in the present without reference point, experiences groundlessness. That’s when our understanding goes deeper, when we find that the present moment is a pretty vulnerable place and that this can be complete unnerving and completely tender at the same time.”
In your time of emotional vulnerability and pain and fear, may you know that you are not alone, you are not doing anything wrong. We all suffer these experiences (although sometimes we are not honest about it.) May you know that you are moving closer to the truth and that “the truth will set you free”.
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More on Compassion: If you would like to read more about compassion, you might like these posts:
Compassionate Cactus #1: The Broken Parts of the World
 Pema Chodron. When Things Fall Apart: Heat Advice for Difficult Times. Shambala. Boston. 2000, pg. 1-2
 John 8:32 (NIV)