“We truly learn to live when we begin to explore our weaknesses. Every experience of weakness is an opportunity of growth and renewed life.”
So states Gerard Straub in his spiritual memoir, The Sun and Moon Over Assisi, which recounts his pilgrimage through his weakness toward his own authentic spirituality, born of his longing for God and his attraction to Francis of Assisi.
I would add that every weakness is also an opportunity for regression and dis-ease. Choice is a powerful determinant. Which direction shall I take –toward this thing that scares me, which I have perhaps hidden from myself? Or, away from this frightful truth into denial, distraction, or worse.
“The King’s Speech” is fresh in my mind. In what I would describe as Bertie’s journey to wholeness, he must decide how much he wants it, how far he will go to get it, and how much he will reveal about himself to himself and to Lionel.
And those decisions to address his weakness are not always final – they are sometimes incremental, and, are sometimes taken back. We see him inching toward new life and stepping back into dis-ease.
Growth is painful. Change is hard. Self-revelation and acceptance is not a game for cowards. Although fear is part of our human condition, true courage allows us to walk through our fear, or alongside our fear, or despite our fear, into the new.
And, how did Lionel set the “container” for Bertie to explore this with him?
He offered his time, his ear, his experience.
His humility and apology when he was wrong.
In short, his love.
And Bertie offered much the same, including his willingness and fragility.
Fascinating that in becoming fragile Bertie was able to become strong again.
And we all have opportunities to be either Bertie or Lionel, in many contexts – in our friendships; with our partners or spouses; as a sponsor or sponsee; as a confessor or a penitent.
In truth, I would have to check “all of the above”. I have been on both sides. And, that is as it should be. I have my own weaknesses to move through, and my own strength to offer others. It is my own fragility that makes possible a compassion for others when they are fragile. It is my own weakness, transformed, that can give hope to others.
And, if I may offer my own interpretation of the quote from Corinthians:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of the Great Mystery may work through me.