It’s there in every look, every conversation, every relationship — that gauzy veil that separates us from each other. We talk about safe things — the rain, how busy we are, how we can’t wait for Friday. But the moment things start to edge toward vulnerable, we blush over the nakedness of our souls and gather the veil a little tighter around us.
This isn’t a new thing. It’s been the human way for a long time — all the way back to Adam and Eve. They tripped, they fell, they shattered their perfect communion with God. And immediately they looked for a covering, something to hide behind (Genesis 3:8). But our God — He delights in uncovering. They tried to hide from Him, but he pursued them, found them, loved them.
Then there was Moses. He kept his face veiled before the people because they couldn’t handle the radiance that reflected from his face. But God didn’t want a veil to separate Moses from him. He met with Moses friend to friend, with nothing standing between them (Exodus 33:11).
And then there was the greatest unveiling of all, on a Friday some 2,000 years ago. As Jesus hung on the cross, He felt the weight of our separation from God. He saw how we are veiled from the Father, how we long to meet with Him face to face, but we’re held back by our sin, our shame, our fear. And so, as Jesus breathed his last, he tore away all that keeps us veiled from God. The Temple veil sliced open, and in that moment, he invited us to meet with God face to face, without fear (Matthew 27:51).
So what can pull back a veil? It is love — only love.
At that critical moment when a man and a woman say their wedding vows, it is the one who loves who pulls back the veil of his beloved. Like a groom who lifts the veil from his bride’s face, Jesus comes close to us, peeling away each gauzy layer until we are intimate, exposed … until He’s so close we can feel his breath on our cheek.
And we tremble, fearing what He’ll say once our flaws are laid bare before Him. But when we finally gather the courage to meet His eyes, we see only love on His face. Pure, unstoppable, unquenchable love. Love that has been there all along. We just couldn’t see it until the veil was lifted.
In his book, The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis describes the tremulous but beautiful nature of love. Yes, it makes us vulnerable. But it is the only way to remain human.
“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.”
Maybe you’ve been keeping your soul in an airtight container for some time now, sealed away from God, from your friends, from your family, from that person who is trying to pull the curtain back and see the real you. What would it look like for you to embrace a vulnerable kind of love today?
Wherever you find yourself, I encourage you to do one thing to allow yourself to be unveiled. Whisper an honest prayer. Call someone you need to forgive. Write a letter to someone you’ve lost touch with. Journal from a place that raw inside of you. Whatever you do, take one brave step.
Brené Brown echoes Lewis’ words about the risk of love in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection: “Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy — the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.” She says that we will shine “only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness.”
It’s scary. I know. Risk is inherent to this journey toward vulnerable love. But on the other side lies freedom and joy and life.
So allow yourself to come close, to be unveiled. Love is waiting on the other side.