Starting With Our Weakness: Adele Sakler

By Adele Sakler
www.ExistentialPunk.com
(CO-OP BLOG POST PART 1)


STARTING WITH OUR WEAKNESS
Who's surprised when I say I have many weaknesses? If we’re really honest and recognize the frailty of our species, we see that all of us walk with deep-seated weaknesses. It’s very difficult to own up to these weaknesses; they darken the doorways of our homo sapien souls. I have had the privilege (though sometimes scary) of surrounding myself with honest people. This includes some talented therapists over the years, who have encouraged me to hold up the mirror and brave the process of looking at the woman in that mirror, warts and all.


As Peter and I broach the often-painful and difficult subject of transparency and weakness, there are numerous ways we could approach the topic. As human beings, there are a plethora of things we have to own up to!

* * *

Peter Rollins said:
“…What I really want to do is to enter into dialogs where I can talk about the weakest part of my argument and you can talk about the weakest part of your argument. and [sic] I can accept and celebrate the strongest part of your arguments and visa-versa.”


-
from a Nick and Josh Podcast interview

* * *

A commenter named “Christ” had this to say on my post: 'Reaching Greedily For The Kool-Aid'

‘"I agree that choosing DOGMA over doubt and experiment is like throwing out that ripening vintage and greedily reaching for a cheap and sugarcoated Kool-Aid."

Hitchens' point about "dogma" is a red herring. Christian beliefs are based on evidences, eyewitness testimony, history's siding with Jesus, and much more. It's true that your average Christian doesn't know how to articulate WHY Christianity is objectively credible and valid, but Christianity is nevertheless objectively credible and valid.

"Our lives are not certain in any form."

Is that a certainty?’

I think Christ makes some valid points, and calls me out on a few things. There is a lot of solid historical evidence for many biblical narratives, particularly for the life of Jesus. It’s easy to lump solid theological scholarship and even orthodoxy in with “dogma” and (even worse) fundamentalism. But that’s unfair. Even liberal scholars like Marcus Borg and Bishop Spong argue for the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. It’s not “Kool-Aid” to believe the Jesus of history may well be the Jesus of faith, redemption and even salvation. Unless we treat it like Kool-Aid, sugar it down, or pretend there is no other wine to be tasted and savored.

Is “our lives are not certain in any form” a certainty? No. I’m uncertain about that. I might be wrong. There may be absolute certainty. There may be absolute truth. I’m uncertain…

For years I ran from who I really was and put up many masks and walls. I found it easier to hide my pain in humor by being the prankster and clown. Sarcasm became my constant bedfellow. Making people laugh, often at their expense, made me feel better about myself, albeit only for a brief time. Sustaining my ego and self-esteem in these dishonest ways was not sustainable or healthy. I finally started the process to really look down deep at why I was unhappy and miserable. I think Michael Jackson's beautiful and poignant song, 'Man in The Mirror' sums up best how I began this long and often painful journey:

Man In The Mirror

I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change

I've Been A Victim Of A Selfish Kind Of Love
It's Time That I Realize
That There Are Some With No Home,
Not A Nickel To Loan
Could It Be Really Me,
Pretending That They're Not Alone?

A Willow Deeply Scarred,
Somebody's Broken Heart
And A Washed-Out Dream
They Follow The Pattern Of The Wind, Ya' See
Cause They Got No Place To Be
That's Why I'm Starting With Me...
[www.azlyrics.com]


I believe that to begin with our weakness we must admit that our humanity inevitably includes arrogance, pride, ego, defensiveness, selfishness, impatience, emotional neediness, insecurities, quick reactions, low self-esteem, self-hatred, et al. Recognizing that it is scary and painful and brings about gobs of anxieties is part in parcel as well. It’s important to surround ourselves with people who are willing to be open and honest about their own weaknesses and who are grace-filled and honest with us, while at the same time allowing us to be grace-filled and honest with them. This shows us that it is safe to let our guard down. THIS is how I can “enter into dialogs where I can talk about the weakest part of my argument and you can talk about the weakest part of your argument. and [sic] I can accept and celebrate the strongest part of your arguments and visa-versa.” The key here is HUMILITY, and that is often difficult to attain!

I don't often like to be humble. I find it much more interesting to boldly state my opinions, but I’m insecure enough (or honest enough) to know I might be wrong. It’s a Catch 22 situation. I, like Peter said, know that, “I am weak because I have begun to open my hands from the fists they were clenched in. Those fists were clenched to certainty and “Evangelical orthodoxy.” By following what I believe to be the Holy Spirit, I am in danger of simply following my heart. And my heart may be wrong. And I understand the risk…”

I recognize that I can be angry, impatient, selfish, insecure, arrogant, and overly quick to react in not-so-nice ways. I also react out of hurt, pain and wounding. I find it difficult when people disagree with me, and often my very first response is, 'How dare you question my thoughts, opinions and heart-motivations?' When insecurity rears its ugly head, I am plagued with thoughts that go like this: 'They must think I am stupid or that I am foolish.' Like Peter so honestly reveals, ' Then it’s insolence: “I’ll SHOW them!” Then, hopefully, Christ breaks through all of the ego, and I can say: “I am sorry. I am weak.” '

I have walked a long way since letting go of my black-and-white easy answers, my life of certainty, whether in my Christian walk or in the entirety of my life. I strive to walk more holistically in faith, rather then by thinking/believing what is correct. I want to live more like Christ and err on the side of love and acceptance rather than on being right all of the time. I think feeling like we belong and having a community to stumble through the often-confusing and painful journey we call life (where we can make mistakes without feeling like we will be lambasted) is what I think we as homo sapiens need so badly if we are to truly encounter and be transformed by the Divine.

I'd like to echo what Peter says at the end of his post (posted today at www.ExistentialPunk.com):

'I have to start this process by telling you all that I am weak. If I had a better argument, if I had a quicker wit, if I had a PhD, I might be able to convince you otherwise. Thank God I cannot. I am weak.'


Peter, I am weak! Thank you for your unending grace and love. Backatcha!

* * *

Adele Sakler currently resides in Richmond, Virginia with her wife, Katryna, and their two dogs, Mushu and Lady. She blogs as Existential Punk at www.ExistentialPunk.com and is the creator and site administrator of Queermergent at http://Queermergent.wordpress.com. She is currently going through long-term treatment for Chronic Lyme Disease, other tick-borne diseases, and heavy metal toxicity. Adele has been a Christ-follower for 20 years and an “out” queer woman for two and-a-half years.

5 comments:

Peter said...

It's amazing how simple and profound the idea of owning up to our weaknesses is. My instinct is to enter dialogue/debate with the intentions of "winning" or "convincing."

But if our interactions begin with a sort of confession - immediate transparency - the whole purpose of the dialogue changes. If I let someone else "win" the argument before it starts, we can move on to understanding one-another a whole lot sooner.

Is this idealistic, or incredibly practical?

Existential Punk said...

Winning and convincing is so hard for me to achieve with people! By letting someone else 'win' the argument is something i find very difficult to do, but often i feel they do win because i don't have enough 'evidence' to back up my argument. i often get hot-headed, especially when the other person is so damn sure of their argument and believes he/she is correct in their beliefs/interpretations.

A. D. Hunt said...

Great stuff you two. I am appreciative of your openness and honesty. It must be extra frustrating for you Adele, as you have made your sexuality struggles pretty transparent online.

I'm sure you've struggled too Peter.

Existential Punk said...

A.D.,

Thanks for your kind words.

Mostly it has been rewarding to be open and share my struggles. It does get tough when people tell me i am an oxymoron and cannot possibly be both a Christian and queer. Also, i am told i am reprobate, an apostate, and going to hell. Yet, if my story can encourage even one person than my willingness to put myself out there is worth it. i grew and am so tired of inauthenticity and certainty of knowing everything. i lived in the closet and very timid most of my life. i rather deal with what is thrown at me rather than hide. It is painful and difficult and i get really pissed off at times but i keep trodding along!

Warmest Regards,
Adele

Peter said...

AD,
Thanks for the comments. To be honest, I really HAVEN'T faced too many great trials in my life. A little depression here and there ;) But most of the most painful experiences, for me, have been walking alongside wounded loved-ones like my wife, and like Adele. I so-deeply appreciate their transparency in the midst of suffering.

It's sharing their pain that has opened my life so much to different expressions and understandings of God and truth.

Thanks again, blessings,
Peter

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