“The American Dream is to live in our strength; God’s dream is that we live in our weakness.”
I read these words this morning. And oh boy, didn’t they strike true? The truth that most days I want to live out of strength, when the invitation is to be weak. Then weakness breaks down the door.
I am a believer in weakness. Well, at least, theoretically so. I can talk on and on about the necessity of showing your scars and post TED talks by Brene Brown on Facebook. Yet, when it comes to my own weakness, I feel much more conflicted. This week, I found myself unable to control, unable to avoid weakness. There I was, standing outside the dentist’s office, with my weakness showing for all to see.
I was feeling overwhelmed by needing a new car, injuring my knee and then the icing on the cake: finding out I required dental work. The dental work tipped me over the edge. It felt like another expense that I just couldn’t afford. I limped outside and promptly began to cry. I didn’t really care who saw me.
I both love and hate weakness. I think I mostly love the theory or the idea of weakness. The practice of weakness is humbling. Weakness means messy tears. In public places. Scrambling to find a tissue, but using your shirt instead.
Mike Erre, who wrote the article I referenced above, brought up the apostle Paul’s suffering, seen in 2 Corinthians 12. He zeroed in on verse 9, in which God replies to Paul’s pleas to take away his thorn by saying: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Erre goes on to reference Bible scholar Marva Dawn’s take on this particular passage:
In Powers, Weakness and the Tabernacling of God, Marva Dawn argues that the standard translation of this verse is incorrect. Dawn writes that the verse should be rendered, “My grace is sufficient for you [Paul], for [your] power is brought to its end in weakness.”
It would be accurate to say that my perceived power was brought to an end into a huge vat of weakness. But it is in the weakness that I truly can receive grace. The grace of which I know just a little more, how much I desperately need it.
The truth is, I am weak. Not just today, but every single day. I suppose the gift of the last few days has been that I am immersed in weakness. I cannot pretend otherwise (no matter how much I may try). While I might see that as negative, God sees my weakness as a beautiful thing.
Lord, help me to see my weakness with your eyes.