I am black. I am a woman. I am a black woman. I have chronic illnesses and a disability. I am an introvert. I look much younger than I am so am often assumed to be “young.” I grew up poor. I am a great big ball of “socially undesirable.” Since God knew me before I was even a thought to my parents, I must assume that God also knew that I would be made up of all of society’s less desirable parts. Yes, I am also made in the image of God, but society doesn’t often acknowledge (or care about) that part of me.
Believe it or not, all of these thoughts came to me as I was sitting in a chapel service at work, listening to a sermon being preached by a friend and colleague. Her message was based on the passage in 1 Corinthians 12 where Paul talks about the many members of the body of Christ. She highlighted how Paul places emphasis on the fact that the “weaker” parts of the body are just as important as the others. It was her emphasis on weakness that got my brain to wandering.
The pinky toe is seen by most as a weaker body part – good for nothing more than running into tables and bedposts in the middle of the night and channeling some of the worst pain imaginable. However, the pinky toe plays an important role in providing balance to the body. It is the same for the members of the body of Christ (and society) who are on the margins and often considered non-essential. They are valuable in ways that we take for granted or may never know if we don’t embrace them fully.
I embody weakness in a number of ways. Because of this, I have experienced pain, shame and isolation. But my lived experiences have made me more sensitive to those around me who are going through similar experiences. It has better enabled me to effectively operate within the body of Christ as a mercy shower – as the heart, if you will. As I operate in this area of giftedness, I am then reminded of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12, that God’s power is made strong in our weakness.