Thursday, June 30, 2011

Strength as Weakness

I pride myself on being strong- mentally and physically.  I can take pain, and I can keep it together under stress (usually- Dwight would be more than happy to share stories of exceptions, I'm sure).  I can work long days and hard hours doing either labor intensive or tediously detailed tasks.  Strength is part of my self identity. 

Unfortunately, it can become so much a part of my identity that the times I need help or lose strength can go unnoticed, either by myself or others until it's too late.  And that's when crisis strikes.  Sometimes, I can put too much faith in myself to be strong and get the job done.  Then something goes wrong, and I'm overstretched like too little butter spread over too much bread, and a very bad snowball begins rolling rapidly downhill.  Suddenly, expectations aren't being met, I'm beating myself up, deadlines are being passed, and my concentration is starting to snap with all the things that need doing.  It's a bad time in the Regula Meyer household.  Typically, this is when Dwight comes riding in to the rescue.  Because, in the end, he may not have as much strength as I do, but he has assets that I lack- perspective.  He's able to keep life in perspective, he is close to unflappable with his calm and reassuring demeanor, and he has the ability to acknowledge his own lack of strength.  Over-scheduling, over-demanding, over-stretching will never be his downfall. 

This shortcoming of trusting my own strengths too much is one that causes me serious complications, turning a valuable trait into a self-destruct button at a moment's notice.  In turn, Dwight's weakness- lack of ambition- turns into one of his greatest strengths because he has the time, energy, and resources to deal with issues that arise from time to time.  This is one of the things that I love about him- his ability to complement me- and one of the things that I love about community- with more people, there's an even better chance that when one member is weak or in need, some one else will be able to step up and fill the place needed.  It's this interconnectedness that I think is lacking most today, this interdependency of people on those around them.  This lack of community turns one of our most important collective strengths- independence- into a weakness.  It's where we've been failing for a few years now. 

Now if only we could all (and me especially) recognize traits as what they are- tools.  Traits are not inherently good or bad, but how one uses them is how the worth is determined.  Any strength can become a weakness, just as any weakness can become a strength; all it takes is the proper use in the proper circumstances.  So could we all stop looking at our box of tools and using that to define our worth, and instead look at how we've used those tools to determine what kind of impact we've made, for better or worse?

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