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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wrestling with weakness?

Strength and weakness have always been a part of my struggle in this life. I have always wanted to be strong and appear strong. However, I have always seemed to feel weak and perceived that I appear weak! Nowadays I imagine the truth is somewhere in between. I have had jobs that take great internal and external strength. But these jobs have not helped my struggle to understand, nor to obtain that which I think I want.

There is a verse in the Bible that has always perplexed me. The passage can be found in the book of 2 Corinthians, chapter 12, versus 10. The writer (Paul) is writing to a Church (Corinth) and there is some discussion about Paul not coming to this church in person. The passage that has caused me much contemplation is " .....;for when I am weak, then I am strong." I used to believe that this was about humility, but not anymore. I used to think it was about teamwork because we all know that weak people work in groups where limited strengths are multiplied, this too has fallen away as an understanding. I think there is two concepts that have shed some light on this issue for me. One is Mercy. This alone is another elusive concept for most of us. The best explanation for this dynamic word is this, "Mercy is not receiving what you deserve." Basically you have a whipping coming and some one lets you off. The second term is Grace. Grace, in simple terms, is getting what you do not deserve.

I have been in situations where I have received both, as well as, I have handed out both. It is in the reflection of these situations that I think I have gained some insight on this passage of Paul's. I have gone on and on about perceptions, both internal and external, and the dynamics of basic cognitive behavior. All of this plays out here. Strength and weakness has a bi-layer composition. The external layer, where most of us spend much of our cognitive time, consist of a physically strong person. I used to picture this buff dude acting weak and giving mercy to his opponents. Kind of like Maximus the Merciful does in the movie Gladiator. This is all well and good, but I think we miss Paul's point here. The real gem of Paul's, is the internal issue related to strength and weakness. A person who has internal strength, knowing that God is in control of all things, does not have to busy about trying to appear strong. Once we realize that we have the internal strength to persevere all things we then become strong. We do not have to "fluff" ourselves up, nor do we become offended so easily! We are also much more willing to see life's issues from a more open point of view. Arguments of right and wrong become a meaningless endeavour. This, I think, is where Paul wanted the church of Corinth to grow. I can not help but picture Asian martial arts masters; great internal strength housed in a very humble soul.

As a supervisor I know I have the ability to hammer subordinates, but why? This is only a just effort if I want to appear strong while I know that I am weak inside. No, I will take the slow-to-anger and the apparently-weak approach, in an effort to mercifully allow them to grow into the champions I see them as; regardless of their self concept. As Paul said " Therefore I am well content with weakness..." I think that I am starting to see his point finally. What do you think?


fatnlazy said...

I see it differently then you do. I dont see you as being weak, weak would rip someone a part. One who is strong, can help build, shape and mold ones charactor.
It takes time and patience to respond with teachings. Neither which a weak soul has.

Talking Bear said...

FNL, I guess it would depend then on how we defined weakness and strength. I also realize there are different domains to define, Body, mind, spirit, heart...!

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