A few weeks back, I had a conversation with my sister Jill. Among other things, we talked about my distance from our folks in Michigan. I must have confessed my insecurity around being a good son and a good brother, and Jill called me on it. She told me she had heard me say that before and shared that while it may be true, I should be careful about repeating it too often, because we can’t progress if we stay tied to past problems, behaviors, sins, or weaknesses.
My mind has returned to the conversation numerous times since, and I believe she is right. My limp was becoming my crutch.
Let me say that again: My limp (insecurity, a problem I have that I struggle with) was becoming my crutch (something I lean on to help me excuse bad habits and get through the day).
Several years ago, when my spiritual director said I was insecure, I bristled immediately—a pretty sure sign. He warned me at the time that it would continue to surface, and that the important thing would be to acknowledge it and move on.
Somewhere along the way I forgot to move on. Instead, I lean into the limp: Instead of struggling against the insecurity, I resign myself to being insecure.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul writes:
Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”2 Corinthians 12:7-9
St. Paul sees his weakness and recognizes that it is beyond his strength to overcome. He begs God to remove it, and God refuses.
Why would a loving God permit his apostle to continue to struggle and suffer? The passage provides at least two reasons:
- That I might not become too elated: God wants us to be aware that we are creature, not creator. We are dust, enlivened by His breath and dependent on His love. My “limp” is a reminder that I am not God.
- Power is made perfect in weakness: Our strength is not that we don’t need God, but that we do—and that we can, in fact, have Him. When I embrace His grace, I find myself strong enough to “walk” without limping.
As humans, our peculiar structure is that of a top-heavy biped (large brains atop two long legs), which means our peculiar strength is that of getting up. Just as we are made breakable because we are meant to heal, we are made likely to fall (fallible?) because we are meant to rise.
We are meant to rise, just like Jesus.
So by all means, be honest with others about your weaknesses, so they know they are not alone. But don’t wallow. His grace is sufficient for you—and me, too!
This post appear in the October 24, 2021, issue of the St. Michael Catholic Church bulletin.