I have a problem with weakness. When a person’s weakness is on display in a way I don’t like, I find it difficult to be welcoming and open. Yet I also am convinced that being honest and sharing your heart is a necessary part of living an authentic Christian life. I understand that seeming as though I always have it together is detrimental to myself and others. However, seeing weakness in a way other than what I believe is an acceptable display is hard for me to embrace.
This realization–my understanding of vulnerability and yet my dislike of apparent weakness–makes me pause and wonder what is in this little heart of mine. Sometimes, I see weakness and I am drawn to the person. In a way, I suppose my heart responds like the Lord’s heart–the misery of another makes me desire to love them in the midst of the struggle. However, sometimes, I see weakness and I am repelled by it. I question why they struggle in that particular way or in such a public manner. Instead of feeling compelled to reach out to them and help them, I withdraw and wish they could get their act together.
Like I have said before, this heart of mine is far, far away from being a perfect heart.
I think a theme that has been woven into several of my posts is one of brokenness and seeking the Lord in the midst of that break. Yet I also want to have it together and I want other people to be composed. The other day at Mass, I found myself asking my heart a question, “How is it that you want people to share their brokenness and yet you don’t want to see weakness? Is there an appropriate way to be broken?”
Is it fair to criticize people for the way they fall apart? For the way they fail and are weak? I like when people talk about their humanity, but I’m less interested in actually seeing their humanity. It is silly, but I find myself arguing that I think there is a proper way to be broken. A recent experience in prayer highlights the freedom that can be found in being broken and revealing that brokenness.
Fr. Timothy Gallagher has a book called An Ignatian Introduction to Prayer: Scriptural Reflections According to the Spiritual Exercises. The opening meditation uses the story of Bartimaeus, the blind beggar in Mark 10. In the opening lines of the meditation, I was directed to take my seat with Bartimaeus. Soon, this blind man is calling out to Jesus, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
In prayer, I was surprised to find an annoyance with him. He was obnoxiously calling out to Jesus and I resisted the urge to shush him. How could he be so shameless? In the midst of the crowd, he was crying out, causing people to acknowledge his blindness and his complete inability to change his situation. I wanted Bartimaeus to be more discreet and not draw so much attention to himself. However, to Bartimaeus, his helplessness was paradoxically a place of hope. Continue reading “Let the Weak Say: I Am Strong”