Weak Things Made Strong

Ether 12: 27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

My journey in recovery has given me fresh eyes in reading this scripture. New life experience shifts the prism and the eyes of my understanding are opened anew.

In the past, I always interpreted this scripture to mean that I have certain weaknesses and if I humbly acknowledge those weaknesses, with God’s help those weaknesses can be overcome. Although I do think this is an important lesson and truth, I think there is something more. Or at least something beyond the face value presented here.

“Show me a man’s strength and I will show you his wound”,

-(Paraphrased) John Eldredge Wild At Heart

We tend to think of our weaknesses as a bad thing. I know I often do. And yet, so often the very strengths we have as people are actually the pendulum response to a deep wound we have that we are overcompensating for. Though this overcompensation may be poorly understood, even unconscious at times, and in some instances unhealthy, we function at a higher level than we otherwise would have without our wounds.

Take the case of a young father who, as a child, suffered bullying by his older siblings and constant torment and teasing at school. Who never felt like he measured up to his brothers athletic talent and felt especially inadequate measuring up to his father’s “legendary” even “Demi-god” status as a member of the special forces. He developed coping mechanisms to endure the torment. He developed a witty sense of humor to cope with the teasing and can now laugh at his faults and can filet any would-be attackers with satire and humor with ease. For a man of his age, he is in phenomenal shape and participates in military style training on the weekends to keep survival skills sharp. He is a very successful business man who works harder and smarter than his colleagues, all the while trying to fend off the wound inflicted upon him as a child. The notion that he “isn’t good enough.” This “wound”, this simple message internalized by the trauma of youth drove him to success in adulthood, it continues to drive him.

Now obviously there is more to life than temporal success. But I find it interesting that our strengths often exist because of our weaknesses.

I believe that true strength and spiritual peace come when the wound can be reconciled, when we acknowledge it’s existence. If we can take our wound and examine it and take an accounting of what our wounds truly are, a source of pain, of shame, of guilt, as well as a source of education, of knowledge of good and evil, an essential part of mortality, a reason for repentance,  a reason to call upon God, a reason to ask for help, a source of empathy and compassion, a source of our strength through the refiners fire, we begin to see that our wounds, with all of the good the bad and the ugly, help mold us into who we are. The good and the bad are interconnected.  Just as are joy and sadness or light and darkness.

It is my personal belief that we have weaknesses to remind us we are mortal. I believe life is designed to break our bodies and our spirits. But after the breaking, what do we do? Where do we turn for peace, where do we turn for solace? With an unreconciled wound, so many of us have turned for so long to the wrong source for peace and comfort. We have turned to counterfeit connections, temporary escapes and physical pleasure as a means of coping. Where we need to turn is to God.

Also in Wild at Heart, John Eldredge says that he “doesn’t trust a man who hasn’t suffered”.

Neither do I. Isn’t that why we put our trust in Jesus? He suffered all. Of anyone in the universe, he knows what I am going through and can relate with me, empathize with me and help me through my pain. He is the only Man that can help heal the wounds that are the true driving force of our pain and our need for escape. And here is the best part…

Once we reach that reconciliation, when we are healed of the underlying pain(which takes time and a lot of work), we can then do what Christ does, but on a much smaller level.  We can offer empathy, compassion and healing guidance to those that are currently walking the path that we know all too well. Because of our weaknesses, that have become strengths through healing and recovery, we can be like the Savior and extend mercy to someone without it, comfort to the distraught, and hope to those in despair. We can become “Saviors on Mount Zion” by doing, in such a small way, what the Savior would do if He came across the same bludgeoned souls that we as addicts in recovery will certainly come across.  And because of our experience with addiction and recovery we will be able to bind up their wounds in ways that those without the experience ever could, just as the Savior would.

Strengths exist because of our weaknesses. Keep your strengths. Reconcile your wounds. Draw an added measure of strength from Christs personal healing. Use your new found strength to lift and help others. Keep fighting my friends!