Thursday, January 8, 2015

Our Weaknesses Become Strong

Not long after I got baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was asked to teach in Relief Society (the adult women's Sunday School class.)

In movies, you know how your can hear crickets chirping during an awkward silence? Well, I learned while teaching my first class that it happens in real life, too.

That day was brutal for me. I went home and cried.

At that moment, a scripture from the Book of Mormon came to my mind. Ether 12: 27 says:
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble... for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
There's a similar verse from the apostle Paul writing to the church in Corinth: "I take pleasure in infirmities... for when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10.)

I used to wonder if those scriptures somehow meant that God was going to help me be really good at things I currently stunk at... such as teaching.

Switching gears a little bit, I wanted to mention the miracles of Jesus. I promise this will be relevant in the end. 

Our Weaknesses Become Strong -- how can God turn even the things we're bad at into strengths? Not in the way we think.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}Off the top of their heads, most people can name Jesus turning water to wine, multiplying the loaves and fishes, and raising Lazarus from the dead. But you might do a double-take when you read John 9, where Jesus heals a blind man by spitting in the dirt and rubbing the mud on his eyelids.

Okay, so I guess weirder things have happened. But that's pretty weird.

Why mud? He could have used anything (like an anti-microbial wipe, maybe). He could have used nothing at all. Why mud?

Maybe it was significant, maybe not. But I can't help but think a scenario that odd is symbolic of something.

I think Jesus used mud to show us that He can do miracles with anything. Nothing is lower or more commonplace than mud, especially in the dusty dirt roads Jesus walked.

Sometimes all we have to offer is terribly ordinary. Sometimes our best effort isn't even much better than spit and dirt, but Christ has the power to take it and turn it into a miracle. As imperfect as we are, He can and does do great things through us.

So will God make me a really stellar teacher someday? To my credit, I think I'm better than I used to be (I have had 14 years to practice, after all,) but I'll probably never get anything for Christmas that says "world's best teacher" on it.

God promises to make our weak things strong, but not quite in the way we might think. The world defines strong as "good at doing something." To God, a strong person is one who relies on Him in faith, regardless of their natural skill or ability.

That's how our weak things become strengths.

When I run up against something in an area where I'm particularly weak, I just don't know what else to do but pray and ask for God's help. And that in itself is me being strong.

Even if I'm not the world's greatest teacher, as long as I try my best and rely on the Lord to make up the difference, I think we can still have a successful class. People in my class will still be able to have new insights into the gospel, learn things about the scriptures, and feel the Holy Spirit testifying of Christ.

As long as they're not distracted by the crickets.

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Cynthia@wabi-sabi-quilts said...

So insightful Jenny! And remember... there are different kinds of teaching and different teaching situations, not just in "official" classes (For example, I'd bet to your children you most certainly are the world's best teacher!). Incidentally, once last year or so, during a Gospel Essentials class in the RS room, an actual cricket (!) chirped during that silent pause after the teacher posed a question - we all cracked up laughing!

Megan said...

Beautiful insight!

Anonymous said...

While God's help is essential, don't forget for one minute that without a solid belief in your own potential and abilities, you are doomed to failure. Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.

Jenny Evans (sister, not author) said...

She really is an excellent teacher with her kids. Their intelligence has been largly enhanced by her parenting skills!

Amy @ Swag On, Momma! said...

Hey, I appreciated your comment on one of my posts, so I came over to browse your blog...and this post caught my eye...I soo LOVED this! Don't ever forget that you have something so valuable--you have insights that are different from many others, since your joined the church as an adult. We need your perspective! And, I loved your "mud" analogy. As for myself, I feel confident in teaching in church, since I served a mission and I taught high school art before I started having kids. So I would love a teaching calling! But, instead, the Lord sends me to nursery. TODDLERS AND CHAOS AND FIGHTS AND BAWLING....oy, it was so humbling how stressed and impatient I felt. And when I tried to teach? They listened for .5 seconds. HA! Again, humbling. It seriously took months for me to get a good attitude about being in nursery and doing all I could to magnify my calling. Then, a year later, I moved and was called to the nursery AGAIN! (I'll admit, I cried.) Obviously the Lord still was trying to teach me. This time, I jumped in with a much better outlook. And, it became a joy! I was totally ok when I was released (a toddler and baby all week at home AND 15 toddlers at church is exhausting, plus I missed adult lessons and R.S.) but, now I don't even mind when I'm asked to sub nursery. :) The Lord knows where we are lacking and He puts us right in to situations where we will be forced to see it and rely on Him! He lets us see where we are kinda "muddy." Ha. Anyway, thank you for an inspiring read!

Jenny Evans said...

Callings are great that way, aren't they? I could teach kids all day long, I actually really enjoy it. My favorite callings have been teaching in the Primary. It's just adults that scare me. :)