So the weaker I get, the stronger I become – St. Paul
Vigilantes of Love were playing at Jubilee. I was 19, a freshman in college, and I was dancing. Alone. Right in front of the stage. I still have no memory of making a choice to get up and dance, but dance I did. I was lost in the moment, freed from my constant, sometimes debilitating self-awareness, and I was jubilant.
That was the only time in my life where I became – without the “help” of alcohol – completely uninhibited, and when I remember that dancing, I am proud because I let go.
Sometimes when I write, I am able to call forth that self that let me walk to the front of the stage. I’m able to drop in and let myself float in the pool of words without feeling like I need to steer them or make progress or produce. Goodness, it feels nice when I don’t feel like I need to have a “product.”
In our culture, we think of loss of control as a supreme negative, and it certainly can be when we abandon thought and care for other people or our own well-being. We also think that if we are not “producing something,” particularly something that makes us money, we are wasting time or being lazy. (Anyone else hear that “lazy” word chanted by that ugly voice in your head?)
But sometimes, it’s good to just let go, to stop trying to plan every minute of the day, to allow ourselves to take that back road we’ve been wondering about, to sit and just let words flow forth without a goal or a point on our outline in mind. Sometimes – far more often than we imagine, I think – being “weak” – living without a schedule or to do list or agenda – is really really important.
This morning, I read these verses from St. Paul, and then I read some of Henri Nouwen’s words. While we are certainly made far from strong by God’s active presence in our lives, I wonder, too, if we aren’t made more strong when we get out of the way and let our “weakness” live big. Maybe some of our own strength comes through when we don’t try to steer so hard into control. Maybe. . .
In terms of writing, I want to let go of a few things to see how the weakness brings strength:
- Writing for a product. While I do have books in mind and blog posts to do, I also want to write things that I simply want or need to write. Maybe they will be journal entries or poems even. Maybe I will do something with them later, maybe I won’t. But the practice of writing will matter more than the product.
- Writing neatly. I am very wed to lines on paper, but more and more I want to write and draw and color and paste things in my journal. I see Elora Nicole creating these beautiful journals and pieces of art that combine words and images, and each time, I feel my heart quicken. More of that.
- Embracing more art. In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown includes a great discussion on art that I am not able to find at the moment on the audio recording, but she tells a story about how art is the stuff that isn’t easily circumscribed by rules. I want to live more in that place.
I don’t really know what any of this means for how I want to live each day, but I can tell you this – it’s going to get messier, more musical, and involve a lot more dancing. I can’t dance, so I’m expecting a whole lot of strength to shine through in that weakness.
If you were to let go of control and product, what might your days look like?
I don’t listen to the radio much, but the other night on the way back from the Writing Retreat, this song came on, and I’ve been dancing to it ever since. (Note, I don’t love the catcalling of the women in the video, but man, Mark Ronson can move.)