Yesterday was one of those days of recognizing oh-so-clearly another layer of my personal frailty in light of God’s great strength. Being eye-to-eye with my weaknesses, whether it be during a brief moment or a seemingly endless season, tends to start with denial, flow into deep discomfort, sometimes morph into anger, and often sink into self-pity. Example:
1. Denial: No, that isn’t me. I’m strong, able, sufficient. Socially acceptable tools I employ to avoid looking at myself include busyness, exercise, work, food, spending, rationalization, victimization, and perhaps the best of all – serving others. I’m sure you could add to the list.
2. Discomfort: Eek, don’t make me look at that. Avoidance is no longer working and I’m squirming at this point. Hiding often accompanies this step. A quip that certainly applies: You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free. But first it will ruin your day.
3. Anger: “God, I don’t want to be weak! I don’t want to be so vulnerable, and I certainly don’t want to desperately need help from you and others. I feel exposed, and I don’t like it.” It’s easy, too, to get frustrated and critical of myself. “You shouldn’t be this way. You should be able to overcome this weakness on your own. You should be able to fix yourself and pull yourself up.”
4. Self-pity: Feeling broken can lead me to compare my weaknesses with others’ strengths – or their apparent strengths, since who knows what’s going on beneath the surface. That “compare-and-despair” trap, which always ends in misery, strangely seems ever so alluring.
So this cycle, which sometimes passes back and forth and forth and back through the various stages, happened yesterday when a certain event triggered my social anxiety. This life-long struggle causes fluttering butterflies in my belly at best and paralysis at worst, and it significantly inhibits such a key realm of life (perhaps the key realm of life): relationships. Feelings of pain, loneliness and shame often follow. It’s not fun.
And yet. There’s hope. Today, with God as my foundation I know in my knower that there is hope. For growth, for progress, for freedom. There is hope that I am simply in the middle of a story that is being written to glorify my Creator and to help others who bear a similar burden.
This particular weakness, as well as any other that I face, keeps me undeniably dependent on God – arguably the best possible position to be in, though it may not start out feeling that way. When I keep my focus on God’s goodness as I cycle through that very human process of denial, discomfort, anger, and self-pity, I eventually come to rest (sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly) in the arms of the best Comfort available — Christ’s.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT
Where does your weakness lead you?