Adversity Introduces Us to Ourselves
It is amazing how strong we can become
when we begin to realize what weaklings we are.
It is in weakness that we can admit our mistakes and correct ourselves by confessing them.
It is in weakness that our minds are open to enlightenment from others.
It is in weakness that we are authoritative in nothing and
say the most clear-cut things with simplicity and consideration for others.
We each have an image of who we want to be. We can paint a pretty rosy picture of what we want people to see and we may be able to wear our masks and fool others as to who we really are quite successfully through life. But when adversity and suffering come along – the image changes. Like nothing else can, suffering exposes who we truly are. It exposes our weaknesses, spotlights our failures and bares our wounds.
No matter how flawless a picture of ourselves we have created, the truth is, we know there is another not-quite-so-nice person behind our masks. Whether we like it or not, we are weak people. There are areas of life that are hard for us. We face situations we fear we can’t handle -we respond in ways we wish we didn’t – we protect areas of woundedness. And because it is painful to face the real person behind the masks – most of us won’t do it until adversity or suffering strips away the image and forces us to be honest about who we are.
Without a doubt, adversity and suffering played a role in causing me to look at the image I had built of myself. When I first began pitching in the major leagues – it was tough. I had painted a picture of Dave Dravecky as the tough guy who could deal with any amount of pressure and pitch under any circumstances. The truth was those first days were downright awful. I did not pitch well and I was scared to death that I would not be able to cut it. I feared failure.
When I battled cancer, I was again forced to look honestly at the person behind the image. I was a Christian – I wanted to be good to others – I wanted to be kind – selfless instead of selfish. But what I saw of myself during that time of suffering was not good or kind or selfless. No, instead I was angry and I lashed out at those I loved most exposing the real me. I felt shame and I understood what the Apostle Paul meant when he said …
I do not understand what I do.
For what I want to do I do not do,
but what I hate I do.
I eventually realized that much of my anger was caused by fear. I was sure of my eternal destiny but I was afraid of my own mortality. Like so many other cancer patients I did not want to deal with that fear face to face. So I tried to hide it – escape it by putting on my tough-guy mask. I was not going to let my weakness show.
But the demons of fear, weakness, failure and woundedness don’t go away. They merely fester deep inside. We may think we escape them for a time but during our quiet alone moments they are right there – consuming us – paralyzing us. Then we have to muster up the energy to go back into the real world with our masks back on. But it is too exhausting to do that indefinitely.
I share about these two experiences from my life because in both cases I was pushed to face who I truly was and not only was it scary but I did not like what I felt or saw. I could not tell anybody what I was feeling because I was afraid to expose the real me. What I have learned since is that sooner or later whether we face cancer or any kind of adversity – every one of us has to face our weaknesses – we have to be real and honest about who we truly are.
We can try out best to hide who we truly are – we can continue to wear our masks but there is a better way to deal with our weaknesses, failures and wounds. That better way is to face honestly who we are and to share that truth with God and others we can trust. It begins when we accept the truth and admit that we are weak when all along we thought we were strong. We know this because the Lord says …
“My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 CORINTHIANS 12:9
Then we along with the Apostle Paul can honestly say …
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
That is why, for Christ’s sake,
I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 CORINTHIANS 12:9-10
And we can say this because …
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses,
but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
On the journey with you,