I keep thinking about weakness. About how our weaknesses scare us. So we run away from them. We hide them. We deny they exist. We do anything to shield others from seeing them.
“How does this pose feel?” I ask as I help to support her.
On the phone:
“I’m embarrassed for you to see how out of shape I am.”
These conversations happened on the same day, with different students – one in her 30s, another in her 60s – who are two of the strongest women I know.
There’s an African proverb. When lions hunt, they split the pack up and place a few old lions at the front. These old lions may have no teeth and aren’t exceptional hunters, but they roar loudly and scare the prey. Meanwhile, the young lions lurk on the other side of the field. When herds come, they hear the lions roar. And they run away. Right into the young lions who kill them. The moral is simple: run toward the roar – toward what scares us, toward what feels dangerous…toward what makes us feel weak. If we run away, we’re destined for a life of pain.
I can look across the scope of my relatively short life and see pivotal moments in which I’ve run toward the roar. And I’m still choosing to do so, each and every day. But, I’ve had moments of weakness. What Brene Brown calls “face down in the arena” moments.
Face down looks a little different for everybody but feels the same. My teeth were in tact as was my career and social media following. My joints were unstable. I worried much about what the people in the arena would think. Alone with myself, I couldn’t be.
I’m simmering about how exactly I got up. I didn’t get up. Some people helped me. They picked me up and brushed me off, handed me their used tissues and said, “You can do this.” With a mirror before my bloodied face, they said, “See yourself as I see you.” As God sees you. You’re just fine. You’re a mess and yes, of course, you’re weak. But you’re strong too. We’re never all one thing. Look at all you’ve overcome. You can handle this, too.
The Divine works in paradox: it’s in running toward the roar that we find our freedom; it’s through shining a light on our weaknesses that we find our strength.