Sunday, June 19, 2011

Glory in Infirmities?

1 Corinthians 12:9-10 reads thus:

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

With apologies to Paul, I can't help but doubt if he wasn't writing the ideal to which he aspired rather than the reality in which he lived.  I don't mean to be negative or cynical, but I have a hard time being grateful for my infirmities.  And it's not because I don't have a sense of perspective; I have been blessed to see how some of my weaknesses and the lessons I've learned from them have helped me, helped others, and given me more tolerance and love for people in similar and other situations.  

But I have a hard time saying that I delight in my weakness, and I have a hard time believing others when  they say it as well.  I can't really understand, possibly due to my narrow-mindedness, how someone could live a "life of quiet desperation," where they must either choose faithful celibacy or emotional fulfillment, and then offer gratitude for it.  It reminds me of the old schtick where the drill sergeant smacks his cadet upside the head and the cadet yells, "THANK YOU SIR, MAY I HAVE ANOTHER!"  Doesn't really jive with me.

There are those days where I'm in the throes of it all, constantly tempted to give in to the advances of someone else or the beckoning of pornography, or even the less external but still painful questioning of what I'm doing with my life and how I'm going to live, knowing I'll have to give up one thing I love for the other. And during those days, I don't really go around thinking, "I'm pleased I'm so miserable today, because it means tomorrow I'll have learned something."  Call it laziness, but I'd rather just be happy and dumb.

I was reading through one of my old journals today and I found something dated from January of this year.  It catalogued how envious I was of people who didn't have this internal battle; either they were gay and didn't know of the Gospel or were straight and had testimonies.  I'd love to be either one of those, instead of the most difficult mixture of them both.  I'm grateful for the knowledge and testimony I have, but it sure complicates things sometimes.

I know it's not always so black-and-white.  People have found an acceptable balance between the two sides; I suppose it's those people I'm most envious of.  I'm struggling to find that acceptable balance.  Thus far, no combination of the two I've tried has left me satisfied.  

It's said that if we were two-dimensional people, we would see all things in two flat dimensions, even the things that are three-dimensional.  I reckon that's about how I see myself.  Perhaps Paul was a multifaceted person who could feel delight in his trials, while I, a person consisting of only homosexuality and spirituality, am incapable of seeing that third dimension of gratitude that can tie the two together peacefully.  

And I also reckon that the point of this existence is to find access to that third measurement that makes life worth living, even in the face of despair and rebuking.

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