This is my opening reflection from the April edition of my newsletter. To read more from the newsletter, including a sidebar by Melissa and a section entitled “Why Your Church Might Be the Ninth Circle of Introvert Hell”, click here to subscribe.
Like all writers, I miss deadlines.
The deadline for this newsletter, for instance.
It was supposed to go out two weeks ago, right after Holy Week. Being a church musician insulated me from the insane ecclesial marathon that every pastor experiences during the days before Easter, so I figured that, after a good day off, I could bounce back up and be ready to go.
However, by the middle of Tuesday morning, I experienced an overwhelming wave of exhaustion that was not in accordance with the amount of coffee I had drunk just an hour before. I went home, laid down, and barely got out of bed until Friday.
I suffer from chronic illness (CFS) and manage it without a problem most of the time. However, when I burn the candle at both ends for a little too long, (or sometimes for no reason at all),, my body simply shuts off, and I have no choice but to stop and wait for the lights to come back on.
This is not the story I’m supposed to tell you if I want you to pay attention to me.
Our culture worships the people who manage to grab life by the throat and squeeze it until it gives them what they want. We buy their books, watch their videos, and share their nuggets of wisdom with our friends.We listen to their strategies, their stories, and their advice as if it came from the mouth of God.
On occasion, I’ve had a chance to get to know a few of those experts. I’ve discovered that when you pull back the curtain, they still have persistent struggles, make bad mistakes, and possess blind spots. They are just as human as the rest of us, even when we try to make them much more.
Rather than worshiping their strength, perhaps we should find the gift hidden in our own weakness.
This has been true for me. While I wouldn’t wish my illness on anyone, (let alone the nine year old boy I was diagnosed), I’ve been blessed through it.
Because I lost many of my friends and the respect of many of my teachers, I have an instinctive compassion and sensitivity for those who are dismissed or marginalized.
Because I was no longer able to do athletics, I read a lot, and so gained a college level vocabulary before I turned thirteen.
Because I often wasn’t able to read, I listened to audiobooks, and so gained a deep appreciation for the beauty of the spoken word.
Because of my simple lack of physical endurance, I’ve been forced to accept my limits, pace myself, and remember that life is a marathon and not a sprint. (This is a lesson I never would have learned otherwise as an entrepreneurial, Type-A personality.)
My weakness has been my strength and, at least in my very good moments, I remember that these long-term limitations on my health are not just a problem to be managed or an obstacle to be conquered, but a gift to be received.
An ancient writer once said, “Power is made perfect in weakness.”
Here’s hoping you find the power in your weakness as well.