I used to feel the need to poke at people until they showed their weaknesses.
It isn’t my best trait, but it is true. I felt so broken and wounded, I needed to know that everyone else was broken and wounded too. Unfortunately, I learned that everyone is broken and wounded… and that “outing” that wounded-ness, isn’t very loving.
In my life now, occasionally I come in contact with someone who, like me, needs to see my broken-ness in order to feel safe with me. While I completely understand it, I sometimes resent the implication that we are only able to connect from our broken places, and strength, wholeness, and purpose are suspect… a thin veneer covering the gaping wound beneath.
One of my favorite teachers, Gail McDonald, described our lives as a multi story building. Some floors are bright and cheery, open for business and welcoming to guests, others are shut up tight in need of renovation. This image is a good reminder that we can be both, broken and whole, wounded and strong at the same time. This image works for me, because if I’m honest, I am a bundle of complexity…and I no longer believe that one truth negates the other.
I am insecure and I am confident. On any given day, at any moment, you might brush up against my life and find my insecurity sucking reassurance from a random stranger. In some moments I desperately need someone to tell me I am okay, I did well, I am enough. On the same day, I might face a challenge and come up fully convinced that I did my best, I am enough, and it is well with my soul. The difference usually has to do with the inside of me, rather than the circumstance. Maybe today I am feeling insecure about my mothering, or my self as a woman but strong in my ability to make a difference in the lives of others.
I fear rejection but I can walk alone. I really, really, really want people to like me. Sometimes it physically hurts when someone I care about is disappointed in me. I crave security in relationships and long to know I am loved. One of the hardest disciplines of my life is learning to walk alone. Time and pain have been patient teachers, and although my heart will break, I can and will walk on when necessary. It is pure joy when friends share the path, but when the road divides and I must make a choice, I have found that following the path set before me always leads to healing.
I am weak and I am strong. My weaknesses can overwhelm me. I sometimes face crippling insecurity, a desperate need to be needed, and I am a life long people pleaser. When I get overwhelmed I either withdraw completely or push everyone away. My first reaction is always to leave before I get hurt. I have wrestled with anxiety and depression for decades, sometimes I win, other times not so much… But that isn’t the whole story, I am also a fierce protector of the vulnerable. I am committed to serve others, not matter the cost. I. Never. Quit. even when I should. I offer my time, treasure, and talent to God and others and am committed to building community.
When you reach into my life, you will find both and I’ll bet if you are honest, it is the same in your life as well. Too often, we expect growth and maturity to lead from weakness to strength, but the people I admire are those who recognize maturity is not a linear journey but one that embraces the messiness of our whole hearts. Embracing this complexity allows me to recognize my own need at the same time I offer my strengths. It is my prayer, that God will use both my weaknesses and my strengths… for His glory.
This is part of a 31 day writing challenge. If you are interested in following along, you can find the rest of the series here. Thank you for stopping by!