Ben once had the opportunity to meet a well-known pastor who preaches some of the best sermons we’ve listened to online. He’s written a great book, and whenever we listen to his messages, we continually find him to be full of wisdom and wit, with a very warm, approachable style. I always imagined he would be a very charismatic in person, and was a little disappointed when I heard that Ben would be meeting him without me.
But the most interesting thing happened. When Ben met this amazing, gifted pastor, he turned out to be quite socially awkward – not what Ben was expecting at all! They awkwardly conversed for a short time, and then the pastor had to go on stage to address the congregation.
Ben said it was the most amazing transformation – that socially awkward man turned back into the warm, passionate, charismatic preacher that Ben was used to listening to online.
I eagerly listened to Ben’s description of this transformation, not just because I would have loved to have been there myself – I drank it in because it gave me great hope.
I know what it feels like to swing from strength to weakness, and back again, wishing that those mountain-top experiences could just last forever.
Sometimes I feel confused about the balance of strengths and weaknesses in my life. Sometimes I wonder why God chose my combination of personality and giftings. I might have chosen differently!
And I was reminded of it again this week. I was invited to speak at a girls’ club event at my sister’s church in Altona. Although I have done that kind of thing often, I’ve never done it with a group of kids. But the whole thing was incredibly fun, and I enjoyed myself immensely.
God is awesome that way. We do what we’ve been gifted to do, and He makes it so much fun!
So I go out, and do my speaking/teaching thing, and every time, I experience such joy, such an energy, and a feeling that I’m doing what I was born to do. And I always think to myself, “I wish I could do this for the rest of my life.”
And then it ends, and I put down the microphone, or my audience moves on to the next thing, and I transform back to the usual, little old me, with my feelings of insecurity, and my tendency to feel slightly socially awkward in large group settings.
Lots of the time, that’s the part where I wonder why God didn’t make me super outgoing and bubbly, with a ton of natural energy, fed by large groups of people.
Why did He make me an introvert, preferring one-on-one conversations, and needing a ton of down-time for every loud, people-filled event? It makes my own “transformation” quite jarring, most times.
I want to question His judgement, but then I remember that pastor, and I think to myself that if he can find his way through, so shall I.
And I realize that there is much wisdom in this experience of shifting from strength to weakness:
God is strong in our weakness.
Because these spiritual gifts come from Him, it is amazing to me how God-given strengths shine more clearly against the backdrop of our human weaknesses.
It seems so freeing to me, once I get past my desire to appear strong and perfect in all areas, to think that I don’t have be able to do everything, or know everything, or be everything. My weakness lets other people see what I would truly be like all the time, if I didn’t ever get some help from the Holy Spirit. I could start pretending that those moments of divine intervention were really me. How wonderful that God keeps it from happening!
We need others in our weakness.
If we could do it all on our own, we probably would. And God knew that. It must be so beautiful to Him when we help each other out, and work together in love and unity.
I think of how it makes me feel when my girls are playing peacefully together – life at home seems pretty much perfect. Multiply that many times over, and we probably still can’t ever understand how God feels when we work together, and rely on each other.
I went to that girls’ club event, and I absolutely loved every minute of sharing with them. And then I loved every minute of watching my sister using some of her strengths, as she headed up the crafts time afterwards – every detail in place, every ribbon and paper cut as neatly and precisely as could be imagined. She coolly and calmly sails through challenges, always efficient. I was so thankful to her for saving me from details. Details stress me out to no end, and suck the energy out of me.
She seems to thrive on handling details. Although we may be sisters, it is extremely obvious to me that we were made to fill different roles in life. And this week, that was wonderful. Every time we talked on the phone to co-ordinate things, I was so thankful for the way in which she took care of details so that I could focus on preparing my little talk.
And then the next morning, I did the same talk at our homeschool group, but this time it was my sweet friend Becky who took care of all the details. She did it in a completely different way than my sister had, and it was just as wonderful.
When we are willing to step out and share our strengths, we free others from having to work out of their weakness. Everybody gets to do what is life-giving to them, and the job gets done together.
I love the feeling of it. But I wouldn’t ever get to experience it if I didn’t have any weaknesses. I wouldn’t fully appreciate others’ strengths. I wouldn’t be reminded that “my” strengths aren’t really mine, anyway.
And that is what has been giving me joy and freedom this week.
So, tell me – What do you wish you could be freed to do for the rest of your life?