It’s been said that experience is the best teacher. A co-worker once remarked with jaundiced signature, “It should be! It costs plenty!” I agree that the learning from some of life’s lessons has a hefty, by times painful, by times humbling, ‘price tag’ attached. One such personal lesson still reverberates after fifty years. I was in college as a music major with piano as my instrument. I’d been warned, at home, that I was a big toad in a little puddle, but would soon find myself a little toad in a great big puddle (some people can be so rude!). Well, as it turned out … My piano professor, Dr. Mead, was, to put it mildly, scandalized by my playing! He had to resist covering his ears at my efforts. He admonished me that my left hand was way too heavy (being left-handed, I was only a slight bit hurt), muddying the melody, sometimes nearly obscuring it. My immediate challenge was to correct this grievous condition. So, I tried. And I tried. Oh, how I tried! It seemed to me that I was making progress, but week after week in his studio, the pained expression on his face communicated the harsh reality. About two months into this embarrassing quagmire, I thought to myself, “I’ve been focusing all my attention on softening the impact of my left hand on the keyboard to no avail. I’m going to see if playing more loudly with my right hand will accomplish the task.” Well, two weeks later I was rewarded with my first-ever smile from Doc M. He wanted to know what I’d been doing differently. After my explanation, he was guardedly impressed. This proved to be the key (pardon the pun) to many more successes, I’m grateful to say. But more than that, I see a spiritual lesson: sometimes we can try with all our might, all our willpower, to break a habit, to stop a negatively-impacting behavior, but with little to no positive outcome. Flipping that tendency on its head, concentrating instead on the positive, desired outcome, can produce better, more rapid results. (An old Country/Western tune says: ‘Let the rough side drag, let the smooth side show.’)

I think this is the lesson the Apostle Paul discovered. In his second letter to the Corinthian church, chapter twelve, he talks about the Lord responding to a request for help, saying: ‘My grace is always more than sufficient for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.’ Paul’s conclusion, then, is to celebrate his weakness. He says, “…when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment – when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ – I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.’ 

Have you ever celebrated weakness? Delighted in it? Or, like me, do you find yourself attempting to put your best food forward, hoping to keep that catalog of imperfections under wraps, away from view? If so, also like me, you may find that repeatedly fatiguing and self-defeating. If prayer is in that category, feel free to join me on our Prayer Journey of discovering God’s non-judgmental love toward us as we keep persevering in the lessons he has laid out for us (today is Week 3/Day 3). To remember: we do what we can, not what we can’t.  PD

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