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Transformation: Befriending Weakness

Transformation Blog: Readings from Learning to Live and Love Like Jesus



Transformation: Befriending Weakness

Brandon Cook

Let me invite you into confessing your weakness.  Of pulling it closer, not pushing it away.  Of making friends with it rather than wasting energy hating, judging, and condemning it.

Befriending simply means accepting the truth of our hearts--the good, the bad, and the ugly--and refusing to hate or blame them.  When we befriend them, we are being honest with ourselves and with Jesus, which finally creates space for us to connect with and commune with God.  When, on the other hand, we say to our weak parts, “No, you’re bad!  Get away from me,” we are actually resisting transformation, because we are resisting the grace and love of God through which foundational transformation always comes. 

I find that whenever I berate myself, judge myself, hold myself in contempt, Jesus is not interested in that at all.  I imagine him standing near me, looking at his watch, wondering how long this is going to go on.  When I approach him, he says, “Okay, you’re done now?  Great!”  No wonder Paul says, "I don't even judge myself!"  (I Corinthians 4:3)

It is much better to befriend our weaknesses so that we can, as Henri Nouwen says, listen to what they have to say.  Lust and anger and any other part of us that we deem unacceptable is, first, a helpful messenger, alerting us that there is a deep longing within us that wants to be fulfilled and which God Himself wants to fulfill and make whole.  Of course, this has nothing to do with indulging lust or anger or “giving in to them.”  We are told, for example, “that in [our] anger, we should not sin” (Ephesians 4:26).  But resistance without a humble listening will always become mere religious performance devoid of transformation.

Befriending, then, is a step into transformation, as we remember that we don’t come to God through our strengths or competency, but through weakness and humility.  And it’s a step towards doing the hardest thing that a human being will ever do: saying “yes” back to God’s generous “yes” to us.  In a world run by egos which only want to pay their own way and prove how great we are, accepting our acceptance, even when we’re not worthy, is the great spiritual challenge.  But when we do, we discover that, in Jesus, we are totally worthy.

Let me challenge you to practice this question: “God, how can You be so good?”  When you find yourself gravitating back towards self-hatred or self-punishment, interrupt your thoughts with this question.  “How can I be adopted by God when I’m still so unsorted?  Jesus, how can you be so good?!”  If you want to practice transformation, start asking that question.  Such confession allows us to experience the incredible generosity of God by interrupting our certainty and opening us to the reality of how ineffably kind He is.

The irony is, the thing that actually transforms us is befriending our weakness! Only then we do experience the love of God that transforms us.  Let us step then, into our weakness, knowing we are stepping into union with God.  Let us confess and celebrate it with joy!

A Question for Reflection and Response

Where in your life can you start practicing the question, “Jesus, how can you be so good?!”