I used to think that when I prayed for God to give me strength in my weakness that He would somehow infuse me with a kind of strength magic, and I would feel my spiritual muscles cartoonishly growing, like Popeye after eating a can of spinach.
Now I know.
I know that when I pray for strength it means:
When I am hurting I can have the guts to admit it.
I can cry instead of getting angry and lashing out.
Instead of denying my feelings I can admit them.
Instead of pretending I can tell the truth.
When I have a need I tend to it, and I don’t have to feel embarrassed by it.
When I am hungry I can eat.
When I am tired I can sleep.
When I need a break I can take one.
I can say I am sorry instead of demanding an apology.
I can choose to reveal a struggle or a temptation instead of painting on a strong and happy face.
I can share my doubts and fears rather than pretend I have all the answers.
I can stay silent in the face of those of those who accuse me.
I can choose not to retaliate or feel the need to defend myself.
I can reveal the thorn in my side instead of walking around in pain, pretending it isn’t there.
I can choose to love someone with whom I disagree, giving them the benefit of the doubt instead of resenting or hating them.
I can assume and believe that everyone is doing the best with the tools that they have been given, instead of assuming the worst.
I can forgive those who have hurt me and believe that they probably didn’t know what they were doing.
This is strength. This is the opposite, upside-down world of the Kingdom that Jesus modeled and talked about everyday of his ministry here on earth. This was the strength that Jesus displayed, and turned the supposed strength, mere words, of the Pharisees on its head. This is the life of loving God and loving others, and letting go of our own shallow attempts at righteousness, and instead embrace the wholehearted righteousness that Jesus offers.