“I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes.” — Jean Vanier
I grew up watching the Charlie Brown specials. When I hear the first line of, Christmas Time Is Here, even as an adult, I am transported to my childhood. I loved all of the specials and also hated them at the same time.
Loved and hated? How is this possible? It’s because I saw Charlie Brown as someone others were making fun of and this made me sad because it’s how I saw myself — weak.
Depending on how your parents brought you up, your ability to identify your weaknesses grows stronger or abates. My middle school students attest to this.
If I give them the assignment to write about their strengths, they struggle with it but if I were to ask them to describe their weaknesses, most could fill their papers.
Yet, the activities they like and ask to do are the ones they have some competence, even if they don’t recognize these abilities. All of us have weakness but are these always bad? There is a paradox in weakness.
What we do well attracts us.
Most of us are attracted to the things in which we have some ability. If we are creative, we may enjoy tasks tied to the arts.
If we have a mind that understands mathematics, we like working with figures within account books to how many board feet one needs to build a garage.
Knowing our strengths gives us confidence and when others see this, they, too, are more likely to have confidence in us. Knowing our weaknesses can bring good things.
Our weaknesses can repulse us.
Just as our strength stir interests within us, it is human to avoid things that bring to the surface our weaknesses.
It can be a constant reminder we are flawed and this knowledge can lead us to form and feel contempt for ourselves. If we’re not proactive in our negative self-talk, these weaknesses and our reaction to them can overshadow our strengths.
Knowing our weaknesses can be good and productive. With this knowledge, we can make a plan to help compensate in these areas or we may learn to ask for help. Knowing our weaknesses can also make our relationship with others better.
Good comes from our weaknesses
That we have weaknesses makes us more relatable with others.
If I appear (or even claim to be) strong in most areas of life, it doesn’t bring the admiration and respect we may believe others will have for us.
People are not pillars of strength in every area of life and if I come across as one who has all my life together, it can give other people a feeling of incompetence.
“Why am I flawed when she is not?” Who can relate to someone who comes across as perfect?
Our weaknesses can build others up.
If we know and can identify the areas of our weakness, we can tap into others to help us, making them feel needed and competent.
If I know I am weak in successful planning, I can ask someone who is and learn from them. It gives this person validation so they may say to themselves, I am good at this and am valued by others because of it.
Our weaknesses are a testimony of God’s power
There are many situations that come our way that can paralyze us but if we put our faith into action, we can ask God for the strength we need in our areas of weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) says, “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
When we ask God for his help in our areas of weakness, he promises to provide us with what we need.
When this happens, others will know it is not us figuring out and “conquering” our weakness but it’s God unraveling and even empowering us to combat these things.
Our weaknesses can be a testimony of God’s strength, graciousness and compassion.
There is a paradox within weakness and this provides the potential for others to see the beauty within us not despite but because of these things.