Precious Weakness

Nick Cabbiness

(Names have been changed.)

Dear Nick,

I need to ask you something. I believe that if I had realized earlier in our marriage that those who don't trust themselves usually cannot trust others, a lot of heartache on my part could have been avoided. My question for you, though, since you have been where he is--is how do I find out whether I have put my trust lately--since things have been "reconciled" --in someone deserving of it? Joe is probably the most "cynical" person I know--he always believes the worst of people, thinking that everyone who appears good is usually hiding something, and now that I understand why, and sometimes feel that I have become just like him by virtue of being subjected to it for 12 years, I want to KNOW whether he is truly done with it or not. My self-esteem NEEDS to know. My worth needs the reinforcement. Our marriage needs the removal of all doubt. How do I get that reassurance, Nick? How do you know that you are enough for him? That he has found that REAL intimacy is so much more fulfilling than surface gratification??  Thanks!             --Kandy

Dear Kandy,

I guess my first question to you would be, is the intimacy that you speak of wanting worth the risk of running headlong into Joe's weakness again?  For curiously it is there, and there only, that you will find the intimacy that you so crave.  I believe that you want something more than to know “whether he is truly done with it or not.”  Because even if he has found some way to discipline himself outwardly from partaking of the misuse, inwardly he obviously still despises his own weakness, which thereby negates any real intimacy with you.  No, you are not enough, but then all the women in the world are equally not enough until he knows how God feels toward this very touchy area of his life.  That answer may surprise you.  But I only share the real, experiential freedom that God has given me.  The "five steps to Purity" may sound noble, but don’t really get down to the nitty-gritty, which is where I know that you want to get down to (Joe too; he is only cynical because he doesn’t know what else to do).  There is a passage in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 which you are probably familiar with, but which I think goes basically unnoticed as to how radical it really is in dealing with this very thing.  It’s the thorn in the flesh passage where Paul is beseeching God to take away this troublesome area of his life.  He doesn’t tell us what that area is, but does plainly tell us that it is a weakness of which he desires to be rid.  As you read this passage something becomes evident.  First of all, Paul was having trouble getting an answer.  But, second of all, when he finally did get an answer, it was not the answer that he was expecting.  Paul was obviously asking for the removal of this very troublesome area, but God seems to have had something else in mind.  He says very simply, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power, My strength is made perfect in . . . what?  Discipline?  Will power?  Could it be?  Did He really say it?  Yes, He did: “perfect in weakness”.  Frame that and put it on the wall!  Your weakness.  My weakness.  Joe's weakness.  God seems to know His strength cannot be mated with ours, but requires instead the very opposite—that which finds us utterly helpless—in order to know the depths of His power which, by the way, always begets intimacy.  And listen to Paul.  Boy, did he get it:  “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses . . . for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (our only “strength” is in embracing our weakness as the perfect container for His strength).   Boasting?  Taking pleasure?  Is that the normal way we speak of our weaknesses?  No, it isn’t.  But it turns out to be the only way for the freedom we crave.  You may think it quite a stretch to apply this to pornography and the desires that go with it, but I, for one, can tell you that it is not.  For years I offered God my dedication, my willingness to turn from sin, but it was a joyous day, indeed, when I finally offered to him my utter helplessness and spiritual bankruptcy to stop sinning (“blessed are the poor in spirit”).  Only when we know that we cannot live it will Christ then live it IN us.   Paul says it in another way elsewhere:  “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).” My feeling is that you are the mirror of that Strength to Joe’s utter inability to keep himself—and therefore his perfect mate.  But that requires that you, also, find your own weakness before God as something precious to Him, something which draws, rather than repels Him.  That is the only answer to the cynical, in seeing God’s gut-level feeling about our very real but very precious humanity.   And why shouldn’t your husband see that?  I, for one, would be glad to stand with you in believing that he will.  I'll stop here, for now, to let this much sink in, but feel free to write back and we can continue to discuss it, if you like.  Thanks for honoring me in sharing this intimate part of your life, Kandy.  

--nick

Okay, Nick--thanks for taking time to help me with this, but now, do you have the time to give me REAL examples of what it is you're trying to say? How did this apply in your case? How did realizing that it was only in your weakness that God could be made perfect really DO for you? Or, and then what??? I tell him this, I believe this, we both go "yep", that's how it is, and then what????? If we both accept it, KNOW it... then how do we--how do I live it? And what weakness does that leave me giving to the Lord so that He can be made perfect? The weakness to not believe in His power? The weakness to not believe that love can overcome even the vilest, crudest, totally ingrained from a very young age habit that was so strong and so much a part of his learned behavior that he can't even admit that it is what has been between us like a solid wall of separation from day one of our marriage? The weakness to fill my own need for closeness to SOMEONE that even after pining our spiritual division, which - to me came from somewhere I could never quite define or identify except to blame it on my own shortcomings or inability to inspire love in him, or even be "enough" for him totally based on my worth as a woman and a wife, by reaching out to someone I respected as a Christian and a role model and letting him into my deepest soul and seeing into his, and because he was so open to that intimacy I had craved for so long—Nick, I got so close to having an affair and to ruining forever my chance of reaching that TRUE closeness with the one God intended for me that I will pay for it the rest of my life because now I have seen exactly what it is I have been searching for and can never have. Because of that, I want proof of his intentions, or lack of them. I hope you can understand this. It is a long story and an awful part of my life that I wish every day had never happened. If I had been stronger, I would still just be wondering if it really existed, and not actually know it, and long for it. So, what can I do? I know God has forgiven me, I think Joe has, and I have forgiven myself, but that doesn't change the fact that I ache daily to feel some sort of connection--and there is none. So is it that weakness that God can be made perfect in? Is that what I am supposed to know was the lesson I was being taught the entire 2 years, or the ten years before it? On my part, it isn't a weakness of flesh, but a weakness of an emotional need for connectedness.... I think I am getting it...Thanks so much!!! I have a lot of searching to do. I will talk to you tomorrow!!

 

Dear Kandy,

 Yes. Yes. Yes.  To all of the above.  How ever you define it or what ever description you give it, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, outside of His intimacy in the midst of your worst nightmare.  That is His favorite place to be.  That which pierces your heart, which scalds your soul raw, that ubiquitous, crooked, bony finger pointing accusingly at the “I” of Kandy and the “I” of Joe is—when you finally see it—your bridal chamber, where the deep caresses of your God answer forever the deep yearnings for ONENESS given you from eternity.  Don’t you see?  This must be.  It is this that Joe wants, in fact what he is reaching for every time those powerful desires urge him on.  The images have nothing to do with what he really wants—he wants you!  But the only way to get to you—in truth—is by finding in your (and his) center, beneath the captivating skin, that for which he was created—the real union with his Real Lover.  You have the depth he wants because you have the God he wants (even if he doesn’t know that). 

 Anything else and you might as well be another pin-up. 

 But you, in your femaleness, can make the same mistake as he.  You too can try to derive and capture, in Joe’s own emotional frame, that which is designed to beckon you further, deeper—into the bridal chamber of Jesus Christ Himself.  Don’t let that be your pornography.  I’m inclined to think your near-affair was for the same thing.  Not to go through with it, but to show you a bare hint of what is really possible with God. 

This is just another way of saying what I was trying to say about weakness, which for so long has caused us to hide and to sew fig leaves and crouch down in bushes instead of answering His love-call of  “Kandy, where are you?  Joe, where are you?”  What do you see, Kandy?  What do you hear?  An accusing finger?  A condemning voice?  Come closer.  Why don’t you find out?  Dare to blow the dust off of those stone tablets that have accused you for so long and see what they really say.  But Bible Study won’t help.  Knowing Greek or Hebrew won’t help—not with this.  There is only one way.  Look into His eyes.  Look into the eyes of the one who wrote them . . . and see their yearning for you.  Then take your husband by the hand and dare to walk back into that Garden of Intimacy.  All that has hurt both of you is for this moment.  All has led up to this.  All the accusations, all the self-condemnations have been but to lead you here . . . here with no possibility left for you to earn what has always been yours—God’s lovemaking.  I’m standing with you.

 --nick