When I Am Weak

by Paulette Curran

A number of years ago, when I was in one of our prayer-listening houses, I was in a great deal of emotional pain. One day, a man whom I had never met came to the door and asked to talk.

Had my fellow-staff worker been there, I would have asked her to take him on, but there was just me.

So I invited him in and he started talking. I don’t remember what he talked about, but I do remember that his problem was serious.

As I tried mightily to keep my mind on what he was saying, I felt completely powerless to respond to him, let alone help him in any way.

He talked for about an hour, and, as far as I can remember, I didn’t say anything. As he got up to leave, he said, “Thank you. You have really helped me.”

I have another story in a similar vein.

Here in Combermere, I was the substitute housemother for our women guests, which means I filled in on the regular housemother’s day off. I was just about to go over there for the night when someone innocently said something that smashed into a deep wound in me.

I felt devastated; I just wanted to crawl into a hole away from everyone. Worse, I would have nothing to give to the guests; I wouldn’t even be able to be present to them. Oh why did it have to be tonight that I was going to the guest dormitory?

But I had to go, and so I did.

I went in and sat on my bed, trying to pull myself together before facing anyone.

Almost immediately, one of the guests plopped herself on my bed and started talking about a problem she had. Oh, no!

I listened as best I could, and suddenly I realized that the wound she was talking about was the exact same one that had just been hit in me!

The thing that made me think that I had nothing to give was the very thing God used to enable me to deeply respond to her pain.

Where am I going with these stories?

Oh, how much I have wanted to help people with my insights, my “wisdom,” my strength! But God’s ideas are very different from mine.

As St. Paul says in 2 Cor 12:9-10: The Lord … has said, “My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness.” … It is when I am weak that I am strong.