And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Today we will look at another angle of vulnerability – the willingness to truly not be ashamed of our weakness. This is what is often thought of as vulnerability. The willingness to share your own weaknesses – to not build up a wall of pretend around yourself.
But this is truly tricky business, and I’d like to point out the big things that I think we so often mess up when we are trying to do this. First of all, this passage makes clear the point of glorying in your infirmities. So that the power of Christ may rest upon you. In other words, so that you may no longer be infirm. This is not a static situation. Our weakness is perfect for His strength. But that means that it is no longer weakness. So the Christian does not glory in the weakness all by itself – but we are free to glory in our weakness in the context of His strength.
Lets imagine a little vulnerability testing ground – a few ladies gathered around a table somewhere. What often happens is that one woman hauls out her pet sin and slaps it on the table right on top of the coffee cake. The other women may jump, whispering among themselves to cross her off the guest list. They may look away with tears in their eyes, they may check to make sure that their own little nasty is safely squirreled away still, or they may say, “I’m so glad you brought this up – I have my own bathtub hairball in my purse right here that I have been wanting to bring out.”
What I would like to make clear is that none of these reactions are Christian, but all of them are common. We can be so thrown off by this kind of sin surprise party that we scramble around and end up completely confused. We are so afraid of saying something that might be construed as self-righteous, or proud. We are afraid of looking like maybe we sinned that way once too, we are afraid to have everyone laughing at us and saying, “You always think you have the answers!”
Now this is something that I hate more than a lot of things. I do not think that I have all the answers in my private little brain, and neither should you. But hello. WE have all the answers that we can ever need. Sin can be confessed. We can be forgiven. The righteousness of Christ has been applied to us. There is no situation so tangled that God cannot heal it. What I really want to know is where we all get off acting like this little struggle of ours – this little pet of having decided that we no longer love our husband, or the porn habit that is sneaking in, or the fact that we decided that we don’t like being a mom, or that we have gotten ourselves addicted to pain meds – where do we get off acting like these things are too big for God?
The honest truth is that there are times when we prefer our weakness to His strength. We lie to ourselves about the grandeur of our own sin. And once we have really started to believe it to be really important, we give it a little coming out party.
Christians must be comfortable with their own weakness, but only because in our weakness His strength is perfected. Our weakness is not our God. Other people’s weakness must not be our God either. We worship a God of strength. A God of righteousness. A God of healing. We are not to be comfortable with weakness for it’s own sake, in a state of not being transformed by anything. Our weakness is part of a wonderful story – a story about His strength. This means that Christians should never be comfortable with unconfessed sin, with treasured resentments, or with a proud spirit.
If sin was manure, a Christian can shovel like no one else. We are not to be the frilly city girl who runs away from the barn to get her smelling salts. But many people act like this is the only distinction – the person who is afraid of manure and the person who isn’t. But the truth is that there is a third, remarkably common way to behave around sin. This is the way of lying down in the manure to better make fun of the stupid girls who seem afraid of it. That is also not the way to address sin.
Now if you are the woman in your muck boots standing at the ready, when someone shows you a big pile of manure somewhere that they thought was secret, and probably immoveable, you are in an able position to help. This is what we do with this. Here, watch. Try this. Shovel. Did you know what God does with this?! Do you know the story of how our horrible messes are part of the glory of His strength? Stand up! Let go of it! Let His strength transform your weakness. Let the power of Christ rest upon you.
Being vulnerable and willing to help your friends means being willing to help your friends deal with their problems. It is not about sitting around and unveiling sins to each other, because what possible good could that do any of us? We are Christians. We are willing to labor alongside each other in the fight against sin. We have work to do.
11 thoughts on “June 2: Vulnerability Part 2 (2 Corinthians 12:9)”
“Bathtub hairballs” — El. Oh. El.
Loved this post, thanks! Just a quick question: throughout the post you talked of not hiding and burying our sins like they aren’t there, but then at the end you said “It is not about sitting around and unveiling sins to eachother, because what possible good could that do?” I guess I am a bit confused. How can our Christian sisters step alongside us and help us if we don’t make any sort of confession and cry for help? I’m not saying let’s all sit around and see who can one-up the other one with their dirty-dark secret sin, but would it be wrong if say, at your next small group women’s bible study meeting the leader asked for prayer requests and you genuinely asked for prayer and advice and counsel from the other women on how to beat a particular sin? If your purpose truly was a convicted heart that felt the need to confess and seek help? Not trying to nit-pick, I just could use some clarification. Like I said, loved the article!
I am not sure I am understanding part of this post. First it sounds like women should not share or communicate a sin that they are dealing with? the hauling out and slapping sin on the table around other women.
But then at the end you mention we should help each other with our sins, being vulnerable laboring alongside.
I am missing something and not connecting dots here.
Maybe you are saying its the way we should share our sin?
If we are going to help each other, be ready to bring each other to Jesus to help one another with sins? be ready for action… the boots on?
I can sort of get that. But I guess I am wondering from the above when can women share their sin with other godly women? If there is a bible study of women and one really wants to have help… she is wrong to say something?
I was encouraged through the post to remember God is big enough for what ever sin we are going through but I am left a little confused on when or if we should talk to others about a sin we are dealing with.
Being vulnerable to others can be hard and it can make it harder to get help if we feel that we shouldn’t share. Sometimes we need God’s grace and mercy and wisdom from others.. how can we even know when to share reminders of God’s truth and love when no one says anything?
Respectfully I mention these things with a genuine concern and desire to understand what you are saying.
Garstabugg and EmilyR-
I will try to address this in an upcoming post, but the short answer is that it does sound conflicting, but I do believe that both things are true. Thanks for the question, the point is well taken 🙂
This is so right on. I’ve lived years of the three–the hiding sin, the confessing for healing and being restored, and sadly the sitting around for months talking about the same weaknesses over and over.
What would always be exalted was our inability and we would collectively find new ways to manage or store sin in an emotional/spiritual drawer.
We’d feel good about ourselves because we were being honest about our weaknesses, but strength seemed to never come. Recently experiencing power of Christ over sin again. Grateful for this post.
I think what she means is, we certainly shouldn’t hide sin, but we take it out for the purpose of dealing with it…letting others help us find Christ’s strength for it. It can be easy for us as women, I think, to lay our sins on the table all together for the purpose of feeling better about ourselves…’see! She has some bad sin, too, so I’m not alone! So great…we’ll just all continue on like this, then!’ It’s almost a way of comparing ourselves with others and making sure there are other people in the muck, too, so I can feel okay about staying there. I think she’s trying to say – take it out in order to DEAL with it, not to stay comfortable with it or compare it to someone else’s. Those are great opportunities to say, essentially, “You’re struggling with this sin? I had something I was struggling with, too, so I understand and LOOK how God helped me! He can help you, too!” That’s my take on it.
I think I live in the realm of women where we share our sins and past sins as a way to make ourselves not look proud. Thanks!
I’m so grateful for the posts you’ve written on this topic – thank you! I LOVE the picture of the girl in the muck boots with the manure shovel vs. the girl running for her smelling salts. I’m pretty sure I’ll be using that illustration in the near future.
We don’t like the hard work of dealing with sin, and due to our pride we REALLY don’t like someone jumping in and helping us with that work. I’ve been on both the giving and receiving ends of this scenario. I’d love to hear what your thoughts would be re: how to respond when the muck boots and shovel are rejected and labeled as “unloving.” How do you respond to the friend who says she doesn’t need a solution, she just needs a hug? How far should we go to help our sisters recognize and remedy the manure pile vs. letting them sit there with their smelling salts? Obviously, we have to check our hearts in the process of helping and make sure that we aren’t being self-righteous, but are instead pointing them to the strength that we have in Christ. But what truths should we speak to ourselves when we’ve been as gracious as we know how to be and yet are still told that we’re coming off as judgmental?
I love the muck boots, too. Get ready for action.
(and also appreciate anonymous’ considerations).
These last two posts have been so great for me to think through and hash out in my own life. Thanks for sharing. And by the way, that kid of yours is way too cute! Love it!
It’s been a while since I’ve read here and I’m thoroughly enjoying catching up. I love your “mucking out the barn” analogy. 🙂 This year, we’ve been putting our barn cleanings in raised beds, so I’m sure I’ll be thinking through an analogy there, too… when we’re willing to clean the stuff out of the barn and shovel it over *there* we can turn it into something useful and good, where once it was just a smelly mess…