A lesson learned – again
Throughout life we learn many lessons through our experiences, but so often we forget the lessons and they need to be relearned.
The past week was one of those moments of relearning. It took an oven door to the back of my head to help me relearn the wisdom of St. Paul’s words “when I am weak, then I am strong” (see 2 Cor. 12: 7-10). During the many hours in emergency, in recovery and in the neurological ward, I had almost a week to reflect on the gift of weakness. We don’t often see weakness as a gift, but as Paul prays for his weakness to be taken away, God responds: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (v. 9)
Too often in my life I have a tendency to see myself as self-sufficient, strong, independent, capable of dealing with all that life sends my way. It took this accident to remind me once again of the folly of this attitude and the blessings that flow toward us in times of weakness and vulnerability. In this time of weakness I have been reminded that as a Christian, an Oblate, a member of the Mazenodian family, I am in fact not isolated or independent. I am part of something that is much larger than myself and my tiny little circle.
First of all, I have been reminded I am held in the circle of God’s love, and have been challenged to rely on that love. It is that love, that caring presence of God that has carried me through this time; that has been the strength during this time of helplessness. That loving, caring presence has been made known in various ways: through messages of prayer and support from former parishioners from many places around the country, through phone calls from family and from Oblates and Associates from near and far, through emails from Oblates around the world assuring me of their prayer and concern, through the care of my own immediate Oblate community at Stewart Street and now the community at Springhurst where I have been welcomed with open arms.
The second lesson is a call to be mindful of this network of care, support, strength that surrounds me. I have heard from people who have not been part of my conscious thoughts for years in some cases; it is clear that I am still held in their memories and in their prayerful support. I have also had messages from people that I perhaps would recognize by face, but not by name, people who know of me through various ministries I have fulfilled over the past years. The circle of support and prayer keeps expanding!
The final lesson is to rely on that power, that support that can only come to us in our weakness, in our vulnerability. I’ve learned again the grace of allowing myself to be vulnerable – not always an easy task, but a necessary one. It is only when I am weak, when I am vulnerable, that God’s power can enter in an provide what I really need. I have a new and deepened appreciation of the gifts of God’s power manifested in weakness, and thank those many people who have been instruments of God’s healing power for me in this time. It was your strength that gave me strength and carried me through.
By Richard Beaudette, OMI