Good morning all! Today we have a guest blogger. His name is Jeff Peterson. He is one of my bestest friends in the world. I hope you enjoy what he brings you today. 🙂
2 Corinthians 12 (NIV)
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
“Most people don’t believe something can happen until it already has. That’s not stupidity or weakness, that’s just human nature.”
― Max Brooks, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of giving things up for Lent, in part because it seems to be that it is a prism through which one can see how people view themselves, and religion as well. Is giving something up for Lent meant to be punitive, or a sign of God’s grace? Is it a way to show strength or remind us of our weaknesses? Is it supposed to bring us closer to God by helping us think of God as we suffer from the absence of chocolate or cheese or facebook. Or is it sort of a badge that we collect every year (if we make it) like in scouts (full disclosure: I got kicked out of scouts, this version of lent may not be in my wheelhouse…).
Paul is one of my favorite people, because if there is anyone who can make me feel human, and comfortable with the idea of facing my weaknesses, it is him. Over the past year, I’ve had plenty of time to face my weaknesses, to consider what I do well and what I do not, and where I could have improved. At the same time, however, I think we often think that once we face those weaknesses, that somehow we will fix them, that we will somehow be better, faster and stronger; or that we will miraculously turn those weaknesses into strengths. And yet I would argue that both of the quotes above suggest that weakness is just human nature, it is part of the fabric that makes us, “us,” and allows us to be better people, but only as we learn to accept their inevitability.
We need to show ourselves grace, to know that while we often think that it is just matter of being strong, or of fixing our brokenness, it really is about admitting that sometimes this is just who we are. Recently, I’ve been able to be there for friends and family in ways that I never could have before, had I not been through some of the experiences I’ve had. And not because I am necessarily glad I had them, or that I now have the answers, but as Paul seems to suggest above; because I’ve allowed myself to wallow in my weakness, to admit that I could have done better. This is in part because I can relate in ways that I could not before, but also because I have been able to show myself some grace as well, in the face of my own weakness. In the verses just before the one’s above, Paul talks about the thorn in his side – we have seen the thorn, and it is us. As we confront our weaknesses, as we give something up for lent as part of this period of self-examination, it’s good to remember that we are not fixing anything. We are simply admitting that we have weaknesses, we are encouraged to wallow in them, actually, because through them, we are better equipped to love ourselves and others.