But he 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.
I grew up in a religious tradition that emphasized the paradox of strength.
In Christianity, people celebrate underdogs – the weak becoming strong and the strong becoming weak. They even talk about “boasting in weakness.”
I didn’t always understand some of the language here. It seemed that Christianity was celebrating losing, lack, defeat, decay, and suffering. That’s not what I value.
But I’ve come to see the paradox of strength in a new light since entering the working world. It turns out that this saying – like many religious sayings – is partly bullshit and partly deep-cutting revelation.
I’ve thrown myself repeatedly at a task which is much bigger than me, into roles and responsibilities that I never expected I could handle. And I feel weak. I’m constantly seeing how many things I have to learn, how many stupid mistakes I make, and how much personal growth I have left to achieve.
The paradox here is that by throwing myself in and learning my weaknesses, I gain strength. I become strong and show myself to be strong.
If I wasn’t going hard after these challenges, I might feel strong. I wouldn’t be aware of any weaknesses. But I would not have strength.
The feeling of weakness is only for the people who are pushing upward and inward. And in those people you can find something like “divine power”. You see at play the paradox of power: the weak are strong, and the strong are weak.