The other day I left my wallet in Helen, Georgia, which takes me about two hours to drive. The next morning I wanted to get a cup of coffee at my favorite coffee shop. I'd just started listening to Rising Strong by Brene Brown, so I had the absurd idea to just march in, be honest and ask for coffee. Be vulnerable, you know.
"Hey, I left my wallet in Helen, but can I still have some coffee?"
*Universe goes into slow motion*
"For here or to go?"
This lead me to a head space of Biblical ideas around weakness. The most notable example I could think of was apostle Paul's exchange with God. God says to Paul "my power works best in weakness".
This is a far cry from "be a successful billionaire CEO before you turn thirty."
I'm teasing a little bit, but I honestly feel this pressure. The American Dream, in my opinion, no longer has to do with a fence, job and two and half kids (that half kid always makes me sad, but this is 2017 and, damnit, I'm progressive enough to be okay with half kids, so long as it's the top half and not the bottom or just one side…I feel like that would be odd).
Anyway, I really do feel this pressure to achieve a whole lot, date a super model, make an app, and be a LEAST a simple ONE billionaire. I don't think I could get the super model without at least three commas in my bank account.
So not only is contentedness sort of shat upon, but certainly being weak is absurd. Absolutely unfathomable.
But I'm pretty convinced, though I'm happy to be wrong, that everyone has some kind of gaping lack. This ranges from things that are considered morally reprehensible, like affairs and murder, to external things beyond our control, like illnesses and handicaps.
Odd thing about good ol' Paul is we don't really know what his deal was. I've heard people say they know, but I'm suspicious about that. The Text is vague at best. We just know he had some issue. Maybe he was looking at naked ladies on his iPhone or maybe murdering people (an old habit of his) or maybe he was a chronic nose-picker. Maybe he was sick or hurt or maybe people were talking crap about him. Whatever the case, divine perspective says "nah, it's cool, I'm more visible this way."
I thought, too, of King David, who was "a man after God's own heart". That dude killed a man and boned the dead guy’s wife.
How the heck do we apply this to our life?
I am not sure, but I speculate that it's better to embrace weakness, whatever it is. Everyone has something and I think it's better to admit it, to see there's actually treasure on the other side of getting real.
This seems congruent with an odd paradox I've noticed: life is chaotic and there is a delicate intelligence holding things together. Both are true.
And I wonder if this is true on an internal level, too. I wonder if when we acknowledge our own chaos, weakness, lack, this puts us closer to the nature of God, the intelligence of the universe. We humans are glorious god-like things, and also we poop. Conversely, if we ignore this indwelling dichotomy, we're choosing to distance ourselves from reality.
To be clear, I'm not saying to keep doing shady shit or avoid taking responsibility. I am saying if you ask for help you may be met with divinity.
I'm not saying to create or celebrate suffering. There is plenty of it already.
I don't think God causes pain. But, paradoxically, it is delicately distributed. We all have exactly the right amount (which is enough to drive us to admit that we need support).
You may think "No! The suffering in the world is random!" You're right. But also it is being carefully looked after.
In any case, it's our job to observe and embrace suffering and weakness when we find it. It is the widest door through which we can find God.
Jesus, you are holy. You know suffering, weakness, vulnerability. Teach me your way. Amen.