What a shame that an idiot like Hitler ruined such a good phrase: “my struggle” (of course you know that is the translation of Mein Kampf, his notorious autobiography/statement of his twisted ideology).
I bring this up because I am always amazed and also amused (and of course, touched) at the fact that I get more feedback on my blog posts in which I share my struggles or moments of weakness as a catechist than those in which I share stories of successes or creative ideas (see yesterday’s post and the comments that follow). I think this speaks to the fact that vulnerability resonates. We can all relate to people who are struggling, because at some level(s) in our life, we are all struggling.
Perhaps there’s a key here for us as catechists: we need to express our struggles to those we teach. We need to show our young people that we do indeed struggle with various challenges in life and that it is our faith in Jesus Christ (who became vulnerable and shared in our human struggle through his death on the Cross) that transforms those struggles into new life. Our vulnerability can resonate with them because they are at such a vulnerable stage in life.
Showing such vulnerability to our students can be tricky. For one, we need to be careful that we are not seeking solace from them. I have encountered teachers who share their struggles with their students as though seeking therapeutic support. That is innappropriate. When we decide to share our struggles with our students and reveal our vulnerability, it is to be a teaching moment: nothing more and nothing less. Second, we can find it hard to show vulnerability in a role that requires us to be the one in control! Appropriate revealing of our vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but of our wholeness and our humanity.
I can’t help but think of St. Paul’s words: “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2Cor 12:10)
All that to say that maybe I’ll post more often about my screw-ups!