Recently I was reading an excerpt from Tim Loder’s prayer book 'Guerrillas of Grace.'
Oh Lord, deepen my wounds
shape my weaknesses
gentle my envy
my fear into trust,
my guilt into honesty.
One line in particular caught my eye. “Shape my weaknesses into compassion.”
Never before had I thought of weaknesses as anything other than something to be overcome. Yet here Loder is asking God not to take away his weaknesses or empower him with strength to overcome them, but rather to shape them into compassion.
I recently filled out a Myers-Briggs type of personality test specifically directed towards people in pastoral ministry. The results certainly gave me a good idea of where my strengths and weaknesses lie. As I looked over my list of “non-gifts” and “anti-gifts” (yes anti gifts! Talk about depressing) I noticed a number of characteristics that I would like to become stronger in and a number that I know I never will be.
For those characteristics that I feel God is calling me to work on and build up I am excited to see what the future holds. But for those weaknesses of mine that remained, the ones that I have resigned to being permanent “anti-gifts,” I was a bit discouraged. I am aware that we cannot be strong in everything, but the act of leaving my weaknesses as weaknesses and not doing anything about it, bothered me. Then I read that line “shape my weaknesses into compassion.” Maybe that is the calling of those that remain behind, the weaknesses in each of us that we know will never be strengths. Perhaps we are called to shape those weaknesses into compassion.
Loder does not clarify exactly what he means by asking to have weaknesses turned into compassion. For me it means showing compassion to others who struggle with similar weaknesses and also giving admiration and support to those whose strengths lie in the areas of your weakness. However, for others in might mean something different entirely.
I believe that each person is blessed by God with both strengths and weaknesses. Some of our weaknesses are given to us so that we can overcome them, yet other weaknesses often are only a result of qualities beyond our control. In my grade school it was the vertically challenged people who were often belittled and made fun of. Yet of course it was through no fault of their own. In elementary school to be short was a weakness and something to be ashamed of.
Each of us have weakness (hopefully more realistic than a short stature) that are qualities beyond our control. What do we do with these weaknesses? Are they marks of shame? Or can they be used for something greater? It is my prayer that we would ask God to be with us in our strengths and help us turn our weaknesses into compassion.