"You know what, you're imperfect, and you're wired for struggle. But you are worthy of love and belonging."
Years ago, I created a fictional character that was almost entirely built around vulnerability. She was able to be hurt again, and again, and still open herself up to loving others without judgment. Even then, more than fifteen years ago, I wanted to be like that. Since then, I fought and fought to gain the ability to be vulnerable. I learned how to stop layering my personality with illusion, and truly allow myself to be myself. Then, the first time I truly put it to the test, that vulnerability was taken advantage of in every way. It's been like I've had to go through that struggle all over again in the last few years. But I think I am getting there.
I find myself occasionally having to defend my choice to stop dating. In a religion where marriage is the pinnacle of covenantal achievement, it has been very hard to let all expectations of it go. But dating, for me, was becoming something where I kept being drawn, again and again, into this feeling that I have to conform to someone's idea of perfection to be loved. In the LDS singles' world, so much energy is bent on becoming that ideal, desirable person. To me, a recovering perfectionist, it is an alcoholic hanging out in a bar. It was simply too hard to continually fight against the current.
The biggest reason why I left the singles' ward and stopped dating was to give myself the space I needed to work on charity. To me, charity and being vulnerable are almost the same thing. When we are able to be vulnerable, we can *see* other people, and love them in their weaknesses. I don't think I can do that in an environment that lends itself so readily to objectification and predation.
I think a huge point of the Gospel is that we have been given the ability, through the sacrifice of the Savior, to be vulnerable. Understanding this is the key to heaven, which I'll be soon be writing about. Consider this a bit of a prelude. Listen to this woman. She knows what she is talking about.