For years I tried to be strong. That was how I wanted people to see me: someone successful, who could be relied on, who had it all together, someone who would readily help other people, but who didn’t need help herself, because she was strong.
The weaknesses that lay under the surface? That was where they could stay. It seemed better that way. No-one wanted to know about those. And maybe if I ignored them, they would just go away.
But here’s what I learned:
- It is not strength to shove your feelings so far down inside you that you struggle to bring them back up again, or to acknowledge them, even to yourself.
- It is not strength to plaster a smile over the pain and keep going, pretending that everything’s okay.
- It is not strength to close off your heart from others and to stay silent about the doubts and fears that are consuming you.
It is weakness. It is stubbornness and pride.
On the other hand, once I started to open up about the things I had shut away, it looked like weakness. It looked like asking for help, it looked like tears and questions and the admission that I was deeply broken. I looked more like someone who was falling apart than someone who had it all together.
It looked like weakness, but it was strength.
It was the strength to face the truth, the strength to invite God in to the brokenness, the strength to be honest with others instead of hiding behind a mask.
And it was the way to healing and wholeness, because acknowledging our weakness is the path to receiving God’s strength.
I think this is what Paul meant when he wrote: “Now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me… For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NLT)
It still doesn’t come naturally to me to admit weakness, but I know that when I do, it shows strength, and it makes a way for God to come in and fill the gaps with his power.
It allows him to be God and lets me know that, weaknesses and all, I can just be me.
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” (2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT)
I was pleased to have an article featured this week at Blessed Transgressions: “When you wonder if you matter to God.” I’d love if you’d come and have a read.