Weak is not a label anyone desires. We all want to project an image of strength and having it all together. We don’t like to admit we are weak or struggling. We are afraid of weakness. Afraid of what it means to have a shortcoming pointed out or to admit an area we are vulnerable. This is pride.
The truth is, an area of weakness is our biggest area of blessing. It’s the sweet spot where God is able to do the most work. The day I decided to quit trying to be strong was the day I found out just how strong I was. Admitting my weakness of pride helped me overcome the biggest hindrance to my identity in — and relationship with — Christ.
Last week I wrote about the truth of admitting depression, which you can read here, as well as a confession of my own recent struggle with depression. Since then, I have received several incredibly real and raw messages regarding others’ experiences and fears of being honest that they too are in a season of depression.
While there are legitimate concerns about losing one’s job due to the stigma depression and other mental illnesses, I still believe that there is more to it than the fear of losing one’s job, friends, or even family. The reason behind most dishonesty is pride.
Pride steals our joy and refuses to allow healing. It is a dangerous manipulator of our feelings, thoughts, and emotions. Pride ruins relationships and seeks only its own glory. It is a liar and it wants to hurt us. It does not empower us. Pride tells us to hide our weakness instead of dealing with it.
Pride in hiding our weakness is masked in several different ways. Each one of us, including myself, uses one (or more) of these masks to hide our imperfections and weaknesses as a way to protect ourselves. The problem is most often we cause ourselves more harm than good by hiding our weakness instead of allowing the Lord to restore and use them.
The weakness of entitlement is usually masked by those who always make themselves the victim due to the misbelief that their life should be perfect and nothing “bad” should ever happen to them. Anything and everything that doesn’t go their way, from a miscommunicated dinner reservation to a canceled flight on their vacation, is a personal offense against them. They usually respond with indignation and outrage at inconvenience no matter how big or small. Patience is usually a great weakness for those who are weak with entitlement.
Have you ever heard the phrase don’t pray to God for patience because he will give you opportunities to learn it? Although I don’t agree with this philosophy because it makes God sound somewhat like a tyrant, when he is a good and loving Father, I agree it is foolish to ask for patience. Patience is the fruit of trusting in God. Instead of praying for patience pray for a deeper trust in the Lord.
The Weakness of People-Pleasing Perfectionism
I hate being late when we are going somewhere. Being on time to me actually means, arriving at least five to ten minutes early. I like for my home clean and magazine cover ready when people come over — never mind that there are four of us (plus the dog) living in a two bedroom apartment. Never mind we all have busy lives, work from home, and with people coming over constantly. There are dishes always in the sink.
I tend to default to perfectionism if I am not present in the moment and trusting the Lord with a situation in my life. It gives me a paltry shadow of control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation.
People-pleasing perfectionism also goes hand in hand with how others perceive oneself. Disappointing people and being found with less than stellar integrity or honor causes the pride of perfectionism to crumble and expose weakness. The people-pleasing perfectionist usually has high, unattainable, expectations for themselves and others. It can only last for so long before it exhausts the perfectionist.
Unyielding in Refusing Help
Perhaps the most spoken of pride throughout the Church is that of refusing charity and being unyielding in thought. Although there is reward for working hard and receiving what you earned after a job well done, there is an evident weakness to this train of thought as well.
For the Believer, the attitude of working for one’s salvation has long been discussed as most detrimental to the entire reasoning of salvation in the first place. “For it is by grace we have been saved,” (Ephesians 2:8) yet so many still try to earn grace and refuse to yield to the Lordship of Jesus.
This thought goes well beyond salvation and has crept into many areas of our lives. It is pride that makes us stubborn in receiving help from others. There is a certain art to receiving well, which I wrote about here, that many have ignored or even labeled as unworthy.
We need each other and others need us. When we become stubborn in refusing charity from others when we are in need or we won’t back down on a position even when we know we are wrong, we display our weakness instead of the strength of being teachable and humble.
The Pride and Weakness of Comparison
As a woman, comparison is consistently an area of weakness that I admittedly have fallen victim to. I find women who dislike “strong women,” labeling them aggressive or intimidating, do so either because of detrimental effects of comparison or the lack of being equipped in dealing with confrontation. Either way, this has been the story of my life and it has caused me great pain and disillusionment of who I should be instead of valuing who God made me.
When we find ourselves comparing our story, life, relationships, bodies, or even temperaments, we are exposing an area of pride and weakness we haven’t fully surrendered to Christ. God made us all unique for different purposes.
He made you a woman for a purpose. He made you intelligent with purpose, charismatic for a purpose, quiet and introverted with purpose. Beautiful for his purpose, friendly, kind or trusting with purpose. He created you strong and outspoken with purpose. He made you just as you are with purpose, for this particular time. He does not make mistakes.
When we wear the mask of comparison we don’t allow authenticity within our actions with others. We put up a wall of professionalism in relationships as a way to protect our egos from being trampled by the desire to be like (or worse one-up) each other.
So Now That We Recognize the Problem What Can We Do About It?
Pride is our “go-to” in covering up and masking our weaknesses. We recognize this is an issue, but we don’t know what to do about it. We have prayed for deliverance. We have tried behavior modification (which never works.) We believe Jesus loves us, but we still struggle. We still try to hide and we still manipulate situations, people, and even our own persona.
Real change happens not when we try harder, do better, or believe more, but rather when we believe correctly. The beginning of true understanding happens when we allow for the change of our minds from what we have always believed. This is repentance.
An important reminder of living a life of successful authenticity and vulnerability is to remember honesty doesn’t want to hurt us; honesty wants to empower us. God does not want to hurt us; he wants to restore us. For many, this is where the change begins.
Every weakness has use by God. When we let our weakness become exposed we are allowing growth, healing, and are moved from glory to glory.