Tuesday, April 9, 2013


"Adequacy is a liability."

Such was the wisdom offered me by a godly, humble, precious sister in Christ.

We were talking about writing - something we both love, and something with which my friend has much more experience. Writers write to process their thoughts, to "chill," to remember, to discover possible solutions to the sometimes perplexing situations life presents us, to create, to speculate. But when we write and then put our writing "out there" for someone else to read, we write to connect:  Can you relate to where I am? Where I've been? Have you experienced anything like _____? Does anybody even care?

And what my friend was saying was simply this: if you really want to connect to people, you are going to have to be vulnerable.

This is true not only in writing, but also in our relationships with family and friends.

When I was a small girl, my big brother had an annoying habit of "stiff arming" me. He was much bigger than I was - and he had much longer arms. Occasionally (I don't know why - I think it's a guy thing), he'd plant his palm on my forehead, straighten his arm, and then tell me to take a swing at him. And I'd go at it, swinging my fists with all my might. But, because he held me firmly at arm's length, and because my arms were so much shorter than his, I never landed a blow. Eventually, I would grow exhausted and give up. I thought this little game was extremely frustrating. My brother thought it was hysterically funny.

Now, my brother hasn't gone through life with a "stiff arm" mentality - that was just a childhood game. He's actually very affectionate and loves hugs. But for some folks, "stiff arming" is the only way they operate:  You're not going to get close enough to hurt me, but you're not going to get close enough to share in what delights me, either. Or close enough to know what frightens me. Or to know the dreams I have tucked away in the secret places of my heart. You are certainly not going to get close enough to know my weaknesses.

What a safe, sad, lonely place to be.

Paul, writing in 1 Corinthians 12:9-10, affirms my friend's counsel: But he (the Lord) said to me, "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 Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I often struggle with a "stiff arm" mentality myself. Weird thing is, when I close other people out, when I withdraw inside my safe zone and hide my hurts and my struggles, I become more and more miserable.

There are people I love who live life with a "stiff arm" mentality. It's like some invisible Star Wars defense shield that I just keep banging up against. I'm stuck on the outside, looking in, not really knowing what's going on. If I persist in trying to breach that invisible shield, it just seems to get harder and harder, as they retreat further and further behind it. Exhausting. Frustrating.

I do not want to live this life behind a sterile, silent, safe shield. For the sake of Christ, I want to learn to rejoice in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

For Christ's sake. And for His glory.


Anonymous said...

Stiff arm? At least I wasn't "hitting" you! That would have been a capital offense. Love, David

emily said...

Thank you for loving me anyway.

Camille said...

No, I was the one doing all the swinging - but making no contact!