All this talk about embracing our weaknesses is fine until someone gets hurt. I’m less inclined to romanticize the notion when I see how my failings have wounded others or how theirs have wounded me. When that happens, I’m tempted to hide behind a suit of armour.
Yet I can’t love others without being vulnerable. And that isn’t easy. I take a big risk when I allow people to see that I fear rejection, need approval, or desire control. Pharisees judge me; Moriartys exploit my weaknesses; and the offended pigeon-hole me (“Oh, there she goes, doing that annoying thing again”). Even if a person, as kindly as possible, tells me how my failings affect them, I still feel ashamed.
How do I embrace my weaknesses without getting hurt?
I can’t. It is the cost of love. It is the cost of taking up my cross and following Jesus.
A few weeks ago, while our contemplative group was in silent prayer, I remembered how our weaknesses endear us to Jesus. Then I sensed him inviting us to allow them to endear us to each other. That invitation shifted the focus from me to my neighbour.
Could I consider their shortcomings a precious part of them?
It wasn’t long before a good friend “went and did that annoying thing again” and ruffled my feathers. My first instinct–I can’t help it; it’s just the way I’m wired–was to figure out how he could have done it differently. But I also discovered two deeper instincts: the desire to find the empathy to love him even more, and the urge to sit back and watch what God would do. Often God does more in the process of smoothing feathers than he could have done if they had never been ruffled in the first place.
If I’m going to talk about love on Valentine’s Day, I want to move beyond romantic notions and talk about what real love is. I Corinthians 13: 4-7 says (amplification mine) “Love is not self-seeking. It always protects the vulnerable, always trusts that there is something bigger going on, always hopes that God will bring something good out of everything, always perseveres in the belief that this is the only way to live.”