What To Do When Your Story Exposes Your Weakness
Better stories are not about greatness or about winning. Better stories, when told well, will expose our weaknesses.
When you choose to pursue a life that is more than anything you have ever done, you will become overwhelmed. You will become vulnerable. You will experience helplessness.
Incredible stories show us how little we can really do.
An Adoption Story
My wife and I experienced this feeling of inability when adopting two kids from China.
Let me give you an picture into what it is like picking up a complete stranger you begin calling your child.
After the 14 hour flight from Detroit to Shanghai, you find yourself in a strange country with people who speak a strange language and eat strange food. You soon get on another plane to travel to the city where your child unknowingly awaits you.
After a quick run to the hotel, you climb into a van with complete strangers. They take you to a building that looks like all the other massive buildings in a country with a love affair for height.
You take a crowded elevator to the 22nd floor. You follow one stranger into a room where you meet another stranger. Then yet another stranger hands you a four year old girl.
This frightened, Chinese-speaking, confused little girl is now your daughter.
You recognize her immediately. She seems to recognize you from the ten pictures you sent her, but she doesn’t seem to care too much. After all, it works both ways. To her you are only a stranger. And she never requested that you become her parents.
Papers are signed. Finger prints are smudged. Money is exchanged.
And then you drive away in the same van with the same strangers. But now one of them, thankfully a small one, is sitting in your lap.
You know nothing about her. You don’t understand what she is saying. She doesn’t understand what you are saying.
This poor orphaned girl, who has never known love, having been abandoned at birth, is now asked to start over. To move to a foreign country with two people she just met. To begin an unnatural process. Attaching to a stranger.
Strangers must become a family. Two adults become parents. A little girl becomes a daughter. When you arrive home, other little kids become siblings. Where do you begin?
There is a part of me that believes that I can do most anything. I believe I can accomplish. I believe I can win. But with this little girl, I have met my match. The job is overwhelming. The work is too much.
I feel helpless. Weak. Unable. Inadequate.
I don’t know how to do this. I feel as if I can’t do this. But there is too much at stake to walk away.
Such are better stories.
A Response to Our Weakness
In our weakness, there are two ways to respond. To give up. Or to work harder.
Giving up isn’t an option. It just isn’t.
But those who choose to work harder (my typical approach) often hurt those that get in their way. Their goal becomes more important than the people around them. Their determination propels them forward even it means stepping on toes.
But there is a third option.
The third option is to trust.
Trust in something bigger. Trust God. Trust the process. Trust others who have gone before. Trust each other. Trust love.
How do we Trust?
- Trust involves believing in the value of the work.
- Trust involves accepting what is. And trust loves in spite of what is lacking.
- Trust requires hope, believing that what is can and will change.
- Trust results in vulnerability. It admits our weakness. It opens the possibility of being hurt.
- Trust allows time to mature the story into something tangible.
Trust is hard. It isn’t natural simply because it admits our weakness. We feel that if we are weak, then we are less.
But trust is the only way to keep going when the story seems too much. (Tweet that.)
Have you ever felt your own weakness? What helps you to trust?
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