It was the walk of shame. After standing in line for 45 minutes, circling up the wooden stairs of this “torture chamber” I had finally arrived at the top. The destination was the place where riders sat perched upon their borrowed boogie boards before they plummeted 10 stories down a water slide. I can’t delineate if I had any intention of going down that ride but I do know that those 2,700 seconds slowly taking steps were long ones.
From the ground the challenge was surmountable; peering over the edge of the straight-down drop, it seemed impossible. My fear won this battle and I retreated, head down, one embarrassing step at a time.
This phenomenon intrigues me, as I am sure it does you too- fears that live in our heads, rational or not, are the most powerful of all.
We all feel weak from time to time. Public speaking may make you frantic or a trip to the dentist could send you running to the woods. Regardless, in each of these situations, it is our assessment of ourselves that leaves us lacking. We measure our strength inaccurately as we 1) assess what we are made of and 2) assume our past experiences are accurate portrayals.
THE HUMAN CONDITION
But, feeling weak is part of the human condition. When God formed Adam and Eve, He did not pour their bodies into forms of brass or precious metal. Rather, He chose to use that which we trample on every single day. The dirt that we vigorously wash from ourselves is the foundation of what we are.
And lest you think you were given the short end of the stick, God clothed Himself in the dirt when He came to live among us in an earthly body. He made us, He remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:14)
Being weak is not a failure, it is by design.
2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT 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.
WE MEASURE OUR STRENGTH
God’s design in our weakness is His provision for our strength. You see, He created us for fellowship. Self-sufficiency was not part of His plan. We were made to stay in connection with our designer (John 15:1-17) and through that connection we will find our strength.
But, the enemy of our spirits and souls would love for us to feel trapped within our limited power, to assume that we are only as strong as the strength that we can muster up on our own.
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To do so, he will remind us of any and every failure that we have experienced. From the time that you wimped out on the zip line to the way that you crumbled at the sight of a freshly baked pan of brownies. Those shameful moments will become all you can see when you yield to the seeds of self-depreciating chatter that the enemy plants in your head.
And, he is right in so many ways- we have failed and we are weak. BUT, we hold the trump card! God already knows your shortcomings but in His grace and foreknowledge, He STILL picked you. God never fails, He is never weak, and yet, He has still chosen you to fight for Him.
WE MEASURE OUR WEAKNESSES
You see, we all have areas of weakness. No one person can excel in every area of life. The artist is not an accountant and the architect doesn’t own a surf shop. And yet, each of these individuals has a perfectly crafted set of personality traits and strengths to fulfill that calling.
Do we fault the brain surgeon for being detail oriented and missing out on the more peripheral emotional aspects of life? No! And, most definitely not if he is your brain surgeon.
I found great freedom in my life in my early 30’s when I participated in an online study hosted by a friend of mine that studied the book Strengths Finder 2.0. In this class, we each took the assessment found in the book which reveals our top 3 personality traits. While similar quizzes are a dime a dozen across the internet, this one was unique in the fact that it not only detailed what those strengths meant to your life but also broke down those strength’s accompanying “weaknesses”.
Much like the example I gave above, you probably won’t be the social butterfly of the group and the quiet introspective type at the same time. Each plus has a flipside and that flipside is an important part of the puzzle that makes you, you. Those traits are not weaknesses until you make them such.
WEAKNESS IS WHAT?
As a Christain, no doubt you have heard the truth that our weakness is His strength (2 Corinthians 12:10) shared from the pulpit. God chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27). It is all part of His plan. Even Christ lacked the Hollywood flair we see displayed on the big screen (Isaiah 53:2). That which is praised by the world is rubbish in the Kingdom of God (Philippians 3:7-8, Matthew 6:19-20).
We listen but our hearts do not grasp it. How can it really be? Isn’t our strength worth something?
As we saw above, according to the Word of God, not really.
Our weaknesses are about our relationship with and glorification of God.
Look at it this way: I like to be strong. One of my greatest motivators for lifting weights is showing up the guy on the weight bench next to me.
But, there are things in life that I am just not strong enough to do. Take the pickle jar for example. I could spend an hour using every contraption I can find to open that thing. I could tap the lid with a knife and run it under hot water until I empty the tank, all while my husband is sitting 20 feet away in the other room.
When I finally submit to the fact that I need help, he comes to my rescue and effortlessly pops the lid open with a smirk (surely, I loosened it for him!). He feels good and I am thankful.
OUR HEAVENLY HERO
God wants to step in and be our hero. He didn’t create galaxies and natural wonders to go unnoticed. Nope, He wanted to display His wonder and His power for us to see. When we stand in awe of His majesty, we are exactly where we were meant to be.
When you notice your short-comings, you can embrace your need for rescue. Like the little girl who imagines herself trapped in the castle tower, waiting for her prince to traverse the vast mote and fiery dragon, so you can anticipate our Heavenly Father to show up for you!
It’s romantic and it’s the story you long for in your spirit because He wove it there. We can love and be loved with reckless abandon.
EMBRACING YOUR STRENGTHS
Are you coming around? Are you starting to see the fact that you can’t seem to accomplish your daily to-do list as not something quite so bad after all? If not, that’s ok, we’re not quite done here.
Take a few moments to assess your strengths. I know, this isn’t always easy but it’s an essential part of this process. To help draw it out of you, answer the following questions:
- You get a call from your church for help, again. What are they asking you to do?
- In school or work (now or in the past), what is the project or task that was frequently assigned to you?
- You are volunteering for an upcoming festival at your child’s school. What would you like to do in the planning and/or hosting?
Based on the answers above, what might you think are your strengths? If you are still stuck, ask a supportive friend or family member for insight.
From here, your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to notice these strengths throughout your day. What do you like to do? Where are you asked to help? What do you excel at? These traits, no matter how insignificant you may try to paint them, are important. They are hand-crafted by God and essential to His purpose and plan for your life.
EMBRACING YOUR WEAKNESSES
Then, if you are ready to lose the most ineffective motivator of change (ever!), self-condemnation, it is time to embrace your weaknesses.
People often ask me what was the pivotal moment of change in my life. What helped me go from a stew of self-hate and self-harm to a person who is pretty content in themselves. My answer is always the same: 1) I began cutting myself some slack and 2) I accepted unconditional love.
These things didn’t happen overnight for me and they won’t for you either. But, if you can aim to be just 1% nicer to yourself this week, progress will happen. Here’s how to do it:
- When someone compliments you, say “thank you” and that’s it.
- If you notice your self-talk getting super negative, pause and ask yourself 1) “Is this helpful” and 2) “Is this 100%, without a doubt, true?”.
- When you make a mistake, shrug your shoulders and say “oh well”, even if you don’t feel it.
Bring these thoughts and concerns to God in prayer and ask Him to minister unconditional love to your soul. Flip to your Bible’s concordance and read verses on love and grace and meditate on one that speaks to your heart. Embrace the fact that negativity does no one any good. If you want to be better, you simply need to spend more time with The One who is best.
I hope this post has given you a sigh of relief. There is no need for you to be strong all of the time. It’s ok to slip-up, it’s ok to be God’s failing-but-loved child. These aren’t F’s on a celestial report card, they are part of your humanness.
And, as you embrace your strengths and weaknesses, know that it is ok to step down each of those steps away from that horrid water slide with your head held high!