September 11, 2018

I

It seems paradoxical, but admission of powerlessness can access great gifts.

In a movie called Gladiator, Russell Crowe stars as a general named Maximus who is attempting to overthrow the grotesque abusiveness that had possessed Rome. He asks an old, cynical calloused gladiator, Proximo, “Do you remember what is was like to trust?” The old gladiator pushed through his own years of experience, and he took a risk to trust in something other than survival. Proximo did remember, and against his own cynical judgment, took a risk with Maximus.

Admission of powerlessness can access great gifts.

In another movie called Braveheart, Robert the Bruce with great passion rejects the apathetic reasoning of his diseased father saying, “I want to believe like he does!” Robert the Bruce was referring to William Wallace, who had the courage and faith to attempt the improbable overthrow of English forces for the liberation of Scotland.

The scenes show Proximo’s and Robert the Bruce’s admission of powerlessness over the characteristics they were born to keep. Both movies offer inspiring presentations of return and restoration, as each man surrenders to our inborn blessings of courage, faith, and craving to work.

II

We all agree that when children are born and for years following birth, they are powerless in many, many ways. However, rather than drawing the conclusion that powerlessness is a weakness that we need to discard or overcome as soon as possible, consider the following three things.

Children are born in possession of three qualities that need to be kept, guarded, and grown. Children are born with undaunted courage, unwavering faith, and a craving to work—in child form of course. Nevertheless, they have these qualities in full. They are three qualities we desperately need to have to live successfully.

Courage means full participation with one’s whole heart.

Courage: Courage means full participation with one’s whole heart. A child can do nothing else but offer themselves, their desire, longings, feelings, needs, and hope in a way that has no defenses, no withholding, no ability to do otherwise. They are powerless over their full participation with their whole hearts.

Faith: A child gives their whole hearts with great expectancy of fulfillment, to be met in their courageous reaching by “life’s yearning to receive them.” They are sure of what they hope for and certain of what they do not yet see. They come into life with faith. They “know” they are meant to connect to caregivers’ abilities to take them into a life of promise and fulfillment. They have a passion to be connected to love. And they have an inborn vision of what that attachment to love is made to be like. They cannot do otherwise. They are powerless over the faith of expectancy and fulfillment.

Bringing one’s whole self completely to an endeavor is the purest definition of work.

Work: When any person gives their hearts, their heads, and their hands to something, they are at work. Bringing one’s whole self completely to an endeavor is the purest definition of work. Infants and growing children cannot do otherwise than lean into life, to see, feel, reach, and do. They crave work, reach for work, seek work, so they can grow, make, build, learn, and develop capacity and ability. Children are powerless over their desire to work.

Powerlessness is not always a weakness, and can actually be a return to living how we are created to live.

At no other time do we possess in such pure form the three qualities that are in us to be grown. The experiences of living, however, tragically make us give them up—with good reasons. Nevertheless, they are ours. Though covered by years of neglect, compromise, ignorance (ignoring), and denial, they are in us still. We return to them, not as children, but in grown up ways. We admit powerlessness over them, and get them back. Then, we relearn how to use them well. They are not in us to be seen in movies only, but lived in real life. We will always live them imperfectly, in tainted form because life is very real and very difficult. Even so, they are in us, awaiting our return to them. Powerlessness is not always a weakness, and can actually be a return to living how we are created to live.