Now that my firstborn has arrived, I am constantly battling the “need” of being a first time parent. When others offer to help, my first response is to push away and say, “I’ve got this.”
If my life were like Survivor (sometimes I like to believe it’s that intense), I’d be constantly proving myself worthy of being a helpful, productive, and independent community member. I see the value I add to relationships as my ability to not need anything. I am comfortable providing, but less so with allowing others to do the providing.
Staying with Survivor, the toughest competitors are typically the ones that people want to vote off the island because they are seen as the most isolated and self-sufficient—untrustworthy qualities. The competitors question why a strong player is so great at catching the wildlife but does not invite the others to the feast; the strong player is viewed as distant from the reality of the other competitor’s weaknesses. I get this this sensation. My inability to share my weaknesses doesn’t mean they don’t exist, just that they don’t exist to others. So, I prevent myself from connecting with the real vulnerabilities of my community.
I struggle with loneliness and isolation in day-to-day life. Even when I’m surrounded by loved ones, I can find myself feeling unknown or unheard. And these are all problems I bring upon myself; problems that stem from not allowing myself to be weak with others.
The apostle Paul has demonstrates how weakness can be good, if not great. Paul boldly declares his weaknesses for the purpose of being joined with God’s community. The Lord says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul’s response is, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
Did you read the part where Paul says that he is CONTENT with his weaknesses? Paul broadcasts his failures to the Church because he desires to be known and seen by them.
More importantly, Paul uses his vulnerabilities to let God be known and seen.
My inability to share my needs with others doesn’t stop with earthly relationships. It also affects my relationship with God. I struggle to bring my disappointments and failures to the feet of God because I don’t want Him to think that I am weak. I want to accomplish and save myself from troubles so that God doesn’t have to get involved.
I confess this sin because I limit the glory of God in my life.
I don’t turn to him and allow his grace to be enough for me. I protect myself and my community from seeing the depth of my sin and the immensity of God’s power being perfected in my weaknesses. When I push away, I am posturing a self-reliant heart that is full of pride.
I recently took in a sermon on the idea of embracing desperation. Again, these concepts are like nails scratching on the chalkboard. The idea of leaning into my desperation makes my whole body tense up. Yet, instead of communicating this idea of “I got this. I can save the world,” I want to rebrand my thoughts into, “I need Jesus. I want to be honest about my struggles so that I can humbly turn to God for help.”
Practicing the ability to see my weaknesses as a strength must first begin with God…then, my community. Because who could be more gracious than my heavenly Father who knew me when I was not even flesh? He renews my Spirit with boldness to be a mouthpiece for his daily resurrection in my life.
My desire to be known and connected is my own cry for help, for authenticity with those I love most. Even more, my desire to make God known in this world starts with my own acknowledgment that His grace is sufficient for me. For when I am weak, then I am strong because it is Christ’s strength that rests within me.