Lean into your weakness to become stronger

A few weeks ago I felt all worthless and sad and went around in my Distraught Pants, staring out the window wondering if my life was totally and completely meaningless.

But then I got down with my organized self and by the time last week ended, I had successfully managed to accomplish everything on my To-Do List. And I feel all happy again–which is awesome since being happy is pretty much my moral obligation to my family.

The problem a few weeks ago was that I was In Transition. School had ended and the onus was upon me to create a structure upon which to hang the hours of our day. I felt unmoored. I was skittering off track. I don’t do well with Transitions. (Can you guess where my son got his ADD?!).

But now I’ve managed to haul myself back into a structured life and I’m happy again. Oddly enough, life is more physically taxing and difficult right now, but I’m actually happier. In fact, last week at Mass I found myself wishing the Catholic Church would go back to the Latin Mass because, um, I like difficulty.

YES, I’m a glutton for pain. Pain makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something worthwhile. When I go to church, I need to feel like I’ve suffered a bit. Go ahead and blame this on my fundamentalist childhood–the point is, redemptive suffering makes me happy. Yes, I am messed up. This we know.

Speaking of suffering, I’ve been teaching this writing workshop to a bunch of kids and I’ve noticed something that has really put me to shame. The Asian kids in my class intentionally lean into their weakness in order to become stronger writers. There is something really beautiful about the way Asian parents raise their kids: they are not afraid of letting their children suffer. In other words, they force their kids to do the hard things, the things that don’t come naturally to them. My classes sell out in less than 24 hours mainly because the Asian parents are so keen on having their kids defeat their weakness.

Now, I realize I’m generalizing, here. Nobody needs to pop up in the comment box to inform me that NOT ALL Asian parents are this way. I know. I know. But let me just say: the difference was so stark and obvious in my writing workshop that it put ME to shame.

I realized I have sorta coddled my kids. I don’t make them intentionally lean into their weakness. I want them to be happy and have fun–I don’t want them to suffer.

Well, no longer. My kids were super thrilled to hear me announce that the rest of the summer is going to be work, work, work.

And that means me, too.

I’m leaning into my weakness by going to Bolivia. Have I mentioned I’m not a traveller-type-person? Have I mentioned I’m a resolute homebody? Yes, going to Bolivia is how I’m intentionally going FAR BEYOND my ability.

And instead of trying to cover up my weakness by focusing on my strengths, I’m leaning into my weakness to become stronger.

Are you?

  • http://moss-place.stblogs.org Peony Moss

    Oddly enough, life is more physically taxing and difficult right now, but I’m actually happier.

    Maybe because you’re feeding that ADD part of your brain that craves new experiences & challenges? :)

    • http://www.elizabethesther.com elizabeth

      Probably! :)

  • http://phariseefreed.blogspot.com/ Susan

    I just read a book that considered this phenomenon. Outliers by William Gladwell. It inspired me to make myself climb out of the groove, and do new, and hard things. My 58-year-old self replied, “Humbug!” But, I may sneak around and work on the hard things. Like my cluttered house. Math. Learning to write Grants. Yeah.

    • http://www.elizabethesther.com elizabeth

      I just finished reading Outliers, too! It actually totally inspired me to not let this summer be an educational waste for my kids!

  • KatR

    Just make sure to leave a few days for dithering and frittering. :)

    This is a tough one for me. I spent so many years where I was hardly ever in anything BUT outside my comfort zone. The voice that said “you don’t want to do this” never got listened to. Then I went to the opposite side of the spectrum and hardly did ANYTHING if I didn’t want to do it. Now I’m trying to figure out small steps toward a happy medium. Right now that means telling my introvered, homebody self, “Yes, you are going to go to bunco and smile and hold conversations. No, you are not going to sit on the couch and watch a ‘Hoarders’ marathon”.

  • http://theheartofmary.blogspot.com Mary

    I’m kind of a homebody these days, but I didn’t used to be. Traveling nowadays is hard for me.

    BTW, I am old enough to remember the Latin mass, and we had Missals that had English on one side and Latin on the other, so you never “didn’t know” what they were saying, contrary to Protestant myth. Of course, if you didn’t BRING your Missal, well, you might not know, unless you had been going to Mass for years and years and had was was being said memorized from your Missal. So, if they went back to Latin mass, it might not necessarily be harder. You were looked down on if you didn’t bring your Missal to mass. It showed you didn’t care. Kind of like being a fundamentalist and not bringing your Bible to church.

  • http://seekingsteward.blogspot.com/ Ashley Anderson

    Lean into my weakness, eh? I need to think about this. Maybe I’ll catch myself verbalizing something that’s difficult for me and then know I need to pick it up and “fly like the wind, Bullseye!” This is a new concept for me. Thanks!

    This Outliers book sounds interesting. It’s definitely going on my summer reading list!

  • http://www.georgemichael.ws Terry

    I agree not all parents like that. I guess there is a reason behind that
    that’s why they want their children to be strong person..

  • Rosemary

    You should probably read “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua that talks about this very point.