In my last post, I introduced an idea that is fundamental to the way I make sense of this world: a perspective of radical freedom and radical grace.
Today, I want to explore another implication of this approach: the value of weakness.
In our fast-paced, modern world — and, let’s face it, our self-reliant Mormon culture — there is a sense that weakness and vulnerability are signs of inferiority. That when we struggle, it is because we are doing something “wrong”; or, perhaps, not doing enough things “right.”
And sure enough, with the radical freedom we possess, we create much of our own misery with our choices. That’s part of the purpose of this life, after all; to learn by our experience to determine good from evil.
But not all struggle is “choice”-related. Some of it is the inherent frailty of the flesh. We might say that Nature is as Radically Free as we are, and that it evolves all kinds of problems, such as illness, appetite, brutality, and disaster. For all its stunning beauty, the natural world is also viciously cruel: we have no power against a tsunami, for example. We are polarized beings in a polarized world, with sparks of divinity competing against base, fleshly instincts and natural processes that can destroy us in an instant.
Of course, we would not be free otherwise. Without both extremes, it would be like living in the Truman Show or the Hunger Games, with everything, even the weather, perfectly controlled. There are some who view God this way, as Master Game Maker, but not me. I believe that uncertainty, disease, and corruption are the price we pay for freedom. And that it’s worth it.
The question is what we do with it.
Today, I simply want to affirm that my approach to the gospel can summed up by the 13th Article of Faith:
We believe in being honest, true…
This touched me on multiple levels tonight, as I realized how painful honesty can be.
Sometimes, it means sacrificing my public face in favor of acknowledging a private truth, even when it makes me look bad. At other times, it means standing up for my beliefs, even when my culture or community might reject me or my interpretation. It might require that I relinquish power, authority, or control in order for another person to be free. In almost every instance, it means being willing to let God to shine a light on injustice, cruelty, violence, hatred, bigotry, and intolerance wherever it exists — but especially in my own heart — so that I may see it for what it is, and do what I must to root it out as quickly as possible.