Puzzling Weakness

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Cor. 12:9 (NKJ)

One of the consistent conundrums of teaching a multi-level class dwells in the confines of the puzzle cabinet.  Maintaining an appropriate supply of puzzles to suit the skill levels of the broad range of 4-7 year olds is sometimes difficult.

Ben, a precious, fair skinned, big brown eyed four year old that I had in Kindergarten last year loved puzzles.  When other children would utilize their free time by racing Hot Wheels or building Lego towers, Ben would be the sole creature wandering toward the puzzle cabinet to meet with his next challenge. Sizing up what was required by examining the front of the box picture, he would decidedly choose. Sitting down on the floor and sliding off the top he would dump the pieces in a huge pile and begin.

Twisting and turning the pieces every way feasible Ben would work hard on the puzzle until I had to make the inevitable declaration that it was time to clean up.  All in one motion, releasing an enormous burdened breath, his shoulders would slump and his head would hang.  Obvious disappointment upon his face, he would look at me and say “but I’m not finished yet.”

Sympathizing with his plight I would offer a hug and the help to clean up the pieces to soften the blow of transition.  He would place the pieces back into the box, replace the lid and slowly walk the puzzle back to its home. With no sense of victory and no satisfaction of completion, his frustration was obvious at yet another “wasted” playtime.

Here’s the thing; without fail, Ben would repeatedly choose only the most difficult puzzles in the cabinet.  Initially, I would take advantage of this teachable moment by explaining that if he were to choose a less complicated puzzle there would be plenty of time to complete it.  To Ben however, the Kindergarten puzzles which offered less pieces that were larger only taunted his puzzling skills and were for “babies.”  My suspicion was that middle child syndrome had followed him to school and the ever enduring burden of doing “bigger-kid” things weighed heavily upon his shoulders.

Ben refused to accept or acknowledge his own weakness and it made life, at least the puzzling aspect of it, harder for him.

I too have struggled when it comes to accepting my own weaknesses.  In fact, I have spent the majority of my life avoiding, ignoring and despising them.

For many years shame was my inward response to places of weakness.  An abundance of grace to offer others, I have always thought I should “be better”, “do better” and “struggle less”.   An invisible yardstick marked expectation lives permanently in my pocket and waits to be pulled out whenever I feel that I have fallen short of where I should be.  As a child of God, far from boasting in my infirmities I have strived to hide them and have often felt like “what’s wrong with me, I shouldn’t be struggling with this again!…”

And yet, I know that any weakness we discover within ourselves comes as no surprise at all to the very one who loved us first. As our Alpha and Omega, our beginning and our end, He knew from the very first day that He chose us every weakness we would confront along this journey; and He still chose us anyway.

It is when we learn not only to accept our weaknesses, but to recognize, acknowledge and embrace them that we allow the strength of God in those places to freely flow into our lives.

Father, help me to exchange my weakness for your perfect strength. 


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