A heart deadened to its own struggles can never be a refuge for the struggles of others.
– Shannon Evans
I hate my weakness.
Well, let me put it this way. Some human weaknesses – like mild fear, shyness, or the tendency to forget small details – may seem endearing. I don’t mind embracing the parts of me that are moving towards wholeness, even if slowly, or things that are just part of the way I was created. Some weaknesses I can live with.
But other flaws I really do hate. These are the parts of me that hurt other people, that can feel crippling, that make me wonder if I’ll ever slay the dragons that have become my demons. These are the places where I understand why people self-harm. To come face to face with your own deep brokenness can be a terrifying and even enraging experience. “Embrace” is the exact opposite of how we want to react.
And yet, if we do not learn how to engage these dark places of our hearts, we cut ourselves off from the fullness of connection, empathy, and healing we could experience.
Some of us have experience crippling weakness from our own bodies as well as our hearts. Some of us have had great wrongs done to us. It can feel as if life itself betrayed us, because we know this is not how it should be. And yet.
“The power of the gospel is not that we no longer suffer or struggle, but that we no longer do so alone.” (Embracing Weakness)
While our pain and struggle is not what God intended on this earth, it can still yet be an invitation. In what seems like a dark hole, there can be a doorway. We are invited to allow our weakness to create new places of empathy and love in our hearts. We are given the opportunity to find new solidarity with the poor and the suffering in our midst. We learn that they have much to teach us, and we learn to listen.
How often we try to run from our greatest invitations.
Recently I discovered this writing that I had jotted down during Lent:
Being human is to inhabit mystery, to live in weakness.
And in that weakness there is a beautiful dependence we often run from.
Because weakness is also painful – we cannot glamorize weakness, deprivation, dependence, despair.
We cannot gloss over the pain of God’s confounding silence,
the grief and confusion of loss,
the disappointment of withered hopes.
Weakness can be ugly, inconvenient.
Mystery is never comfortable.
But deep within, there is a voice:
Be prepared through the confounding silence of God.