Witness From Weakness
Why is it that people have difficulty being interested when someone tells about their "fabulous" vacation or talented child? The same reaction occurs, frequently if a Christian talks about the wonderful relationship he/she has with the Lord, or how all his problems have been taken away by Jesus. There is often no joy or fascination in the listener’s response.
Strong, positive, exciting experiences have a way of causing friends to back away.
They seem in some way to be threatening messages, maybe because so few people are, in that same moment, able to identify with such good feelings. Hearing such victorious stories makes most people feel worse; like they must he lousy Christians, because life for them is more of a struggle. For most, thorns and thistles, disappointments and worries, are their experience, rather than triumphs and victories.
A far different reaction occurs when someone self-discloses about a failure, weakness, or struggle in her or his life. Immediately we all are encouraged, especially if the struggler is someone we have looked up to. We're reassured, because that's how it is for us, too; not so easy, not so glorious—difficult.
My wife tells how comfortable it made her feel when a psychiatrist mentioned a "tension" going on between himself and his wife. From then on it was possible to see them as real people.
Talking to each other about how it really is may include joys and victories if sorrows and losses are not always left out. We are, in fact, more likely to enjoy and celebrate with one another when we are also invited and allowed to weep and hurt with each other.
One of the encouraging parts of the Scriptures is the openness and honesty about the struggles, griefs, and pain of biblical people. Jesus himself wept, agonized, hurt. The apostle Paul speaks of many hardships, including a time when "we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself."
It is strange to find present day Christians so bent on being positive and "good Christians" that they deny the kind of reality that is so evident in biblical people. Real people have a handful of both. Perhaps most importantly, they are willing to be vulnerable and to admit their weakness to others.
Be on the lookout for an opportunity to share someone else's joy and to celebrate with them. Share with us how you did that at ShowUp@careandkindness.org or Like us on Facebook and add a comment there.