My old friend, Insecurity, showed up again when I attended a two-day SoulStream board meeting. Even though I was among people who are open, accepting, and kind, I felt uneasy. Someone mentioned a book I hadn’t read or music I hadn’t heard. I noticed I was outside a playful interaction between two people. I said the wrong thing and had to apologize. I fell short again and again. I wanted to hide, but instead I kept trying to redeem myself by saying something clever or coming up with a good idea. It only seemed to increase my self-critical thoughts and distance me from others.
Whatever feelings we experience–even if it’s a crowd of sorrows–the poet Rumi tells us to, “Welcome and entertain them all.“ This is what I tell my directees, and now it was time to follow my own advice. Begrudgingly, I let Insecurity be there. I gave it a corner of the couch and made sure God saw this magnanimous gesture.
The uneasiness didn’t let up, but as we continued to discuss what was on the agenda openly and honestly, I noticed that each person there brought uninvited guests: fears of all shapes and sizes. I saw that my friends had fears too and I felt compassion for them as well for as myself.
Before the board meeting ended, in a private conversation, one person explained what was under their fears. It was a painful, beautiful story.
Then they turned to me and said, “So, tell me something about yourself that I don’t know.”
The question took me by surprise. I could have told them that I spent a year in Zimbabwe on student exchange. I could have told them that I learned morse code and at one time had a shortwave radio licence. But instead I told them how insecure I’d felt for the past two days.
Not long afterwards the same person said this in an e-mail, “Thanks for gifting us with your presence on the board. I love being with you. You are warm and bring a feeling of safety to a room.”
I read the e-mail twice. Then read it to Fred. Even with my weakness–or maybe because of it!–I belonged.
Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche communities for developmental disabilities, said,
Power and strength can separate people; whereas weakness and recognition of weakness and the cry for help brings people together. When you are weak, you need people. It’s very easy. When you are strong you don’t need people, you can do everything on your own. So, somewhere the weak person calls people together. And when the weak call forth the strong, what happens is they awaken what is most beautiful in a human person–compassion, goodness, openness to another and so on. Our weakness brings people together. . . Weakness is at the heart of belonging.
But the Lord said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.–2 Corinthians 12:9
Some more Advent Love Mischief:
- There is a depth of wisdom embedded in 2 Corinthians 12:9. Can you describe what gifts are rooted in your weakness? What do you risk by embracing your weakness.
- Vanier says, “Weakness is at the heart of belonging.” How do you feel about that?