We all like to do things we’re good at.
I’ll be honest: when I moved to London to be a Missionary Apprentice, I thought I was doing something I could be good at. Instead, I found myself having several confusing conversations about computers, cords, and Wi-Fi every Sunday. (Somehow I’d effectively become the “computer person” at church?)
And on Monday nights, I would jump and sweat to very loud music in my bhangra dance class at the local high school. Every week, the instructor would tell me, “Co-or-di-nation. You must have more coordination!”
Of course, my weakness goes far deeper than a lack of coordination and no understanding of what an HDMI cord is.
The truth is, I regularly find myself feeling clueless and helpless in areas I never expected. When I don’t know what to say to a friend who has failed an important government test for citizenship, or when I’m not sure how to practically love and talk about Jesus with Youth Club kids whose teenage years are so different from mine. I’ve discovered that I actually don’t know how to be a good friend in this still-new setting, even though it was something I used to pride myself on at home.
What do you do when what you thought was one of your greatest strengths is actually a huge weakness?
I love people. I’m good at loving people. I’ve been sure of this all my life. I like to remind people that I’m a people person: “No, I don’t want to pet your dog—I’m not an animal person; I’m a people person.” “It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around that idea — I’m not an idea person; I’m a people person.” I just love people.
But going to the mission field has shown me that loving people is a lot harder than it seems (I know, surprise, surprise).
Maybe in the past, I’ve had a glimpse every once in a while at the true state of my heart towards others, but only in the last few months has God opened my eyes a bit more to see the depth of my inability to love.
It’s been a painful revelation, one that’s come through hard conversations with my mentor (Serge Apprentices have regular meetings with a mentor), my friends, my sister, and even my bosses. I knew I was rubbish at most technology, but I always held onto my “love” for others, which very often ended up being not much more than a selfish niceness to get them to like me.
Lately, I’ve found myself holding on tightly to something that doesn’t exist—my perfect love for my friends and my family.
And I have a few options in this situation:
I can pretend ignorance. I can just continue to believe I love people and I’m good at it! But I will end up lost and ashamed when my love fails and I’m revealed as a fake.
Or I can sit in my failure. I can believe that I will never be able to be a true friend to anyone or love anyone! But this will cause me to turn inward in my despair.
Or maybe I can think really hard about how best to love people. I can ask them, pray for wisdom, and spend hours in the middle of the night trying to figure it out so I won’t fail. But ultimately, I will fail—because I’ve already failed.
Praise God that in His love and mercy He has provided a way out of my mess.
I have a better option: I can look at Jesus’s love for me.
To quote Sally Lloyd-Jones, only when I believe in His “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love” for me will I have any unselfish love to give to anyone else. And even then, I will still mess up all the time.
But I believe that God works through my weakness—in fact, His strength and His love, are perfected in it.
Praise be to God that he is bringing His Kingdom through broken people!
That’s a wonderful article, Mary. I really enjoyed reading that beautiful testimony to God’s work in your life