Several days ago on a long drive to visit a friend, I was thinking about my voice and how I wish it was louder. I was thinking about Mariah Carey and how she belts out a tune, and how I always wished I could sing like her. That made me start thinking about how it would also be nice to look like Jennifer Lopez. And keep house like Martha Stewart. All with the heart of Mother Teresa.
I don’t usually hear voices in my head, but somewhere in my consciousness I heard a divine chuckle. And in the laughter, I heard a truth. For some reason, our God is very comfortable with human weakness. Have you noticed how he likes small things (“Unless you change and become like children….” Mt. 18:3), broken things (“Those who are well have no need of a physician….” Lk. 5:31), things that in some way must die before they can fully live (“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!” Rev. 5:12)? This is a God who creates greatness in ordinary things (“You are only a man!” Jn. 10:33) and who requires of his people a similar way of thinking (“The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.” Mt. 20:16).
St. Paul claimed that he boasted of his weaknesses. He did this because he believed they placed him where he rightfully belonged – on the cross of Jesus. Is it possible that the things we perceive as weaknesses or failings are actually the things that bind us most closely to the Holy One? Our weaknesses, our sins, our problems and burdens – yes, they make us small, ordinary, broken. But they are how we learn about dying and rising, about surrender, about needing a savior, and about what it truly means to be loved.
I will never look or sound like a celebrity. And I will never be worthy to unbuckle the sandal of Mother Teresa much less aspire to her heart! Like you, I have many things about myself that I would like to change (some more shallow than others!). But I don’t perceive these things – even my serious weaknesses that are much more than skin-deep – as rotten parts of myself. Rather they are the part of my humanity that still awaits transformation, they are my emptiness yet to be filled. They are an invitation to God to be with me, because I know I am not whole by myself.
“So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10).