The Power of Powerlessness
We are powerless over being created to find fulfillment in a certain way. Just like trees are powerless over needing water to grow and thrive, we humans find our “water” in relationship with our own hearts, the hearts of others and God. This inborn quality of powerlessness is not a negative or an insult. It grants us the ability to ask for help, reach towards it, and take in the sustenance that allows us to grow and thrive. This powerlessness actually allows us to move into who we are made to be, and it sets us free to do what we are made to do. The Red Cross began out of this powerlessness, as did Alcoholics Anonymous, both of which have blessed the lives of untold millions.
We are powerless over being feeling, needing, desiring, longing, and hoping creatures. All five of these characteristics, however, expose us to vulnerability. They point us to the fearful realities of our need of each other and God. The vulnerability it takes to live relationally is very difficult for many of us. Many of us have been deeply wounded in past relationships, making new risk taking a mighty struggle. Or we have been taught that needing breaks the rules of having to be independent to have value or respect.
The struggle with powerlessness for us, therefore, is that we have experienced great pains that make us ashamed of being powerless over needing to reach from our hearts to the water of relationship. This pain often impels us to willfully work against our relational predesign. It sets us up to isolate our hearts from being revealed, and blocks us from what we can receive.
Attempting to gain control over our powerlessness often involves the misuse of willpower to stymie, neglect, or deny the emotional and spiritual makeup of the heart. In the end, all of our attempts to grow and thrive without reaching for relationship out of the heart prove fruitless. Just like trees are powerless over needing to seek water, we find our water in relationship by admitting our need of others and God.
Human powerlessness is a paradoxical opportunity or invitation to thrive through the vulnerability of admitting our condition. We never “get over” this condition. Therefore, we need to become highly skilled at admitting it and surrendering to its realties. We need each other and God to grow and thrive. We are made to become strong through our dependence upon each other and God. No one is independent from this reality.
To live into our powerlessness takes tremendous courage. It requires that we have the courage to feel, need, desire, long and hope, and to do so truthfully. In acknowledging our powerlessness, we can surrender daily to this reality as a way to live how we are created day in and day out. Daily surrender to and acceptance of our powerlessness sets us free. We are set free to live in relationship with others and God in the truthful vulnerability and great hopes of our hearts. Through daily acceptance of our need of each other and God, we can do more together than we will ever do apart. The admission, surrender to, and acceptance of powerlessness can yield powerful results.