Giving others an opportunity
I visited Charlie several times during the three months before he died. He always seemed in good spirits. One day he showed me a picture of himself as a college student. He had been a star football player for a southern university and graduated with honors in biology.
He spoke about “back then” and his limited ability now. “How do you stay so upbeat?” I asked.
“Back then, I didn’t feel I needed people. I’m not sure I felt much of a need for God either. My weakness has become my gift to others.”
Charlie, aware that I didn’t understand, added, “My cancer humanized me.”
He told me that he had been a highly self-sufficient man, to whom things came easily. “I was successful in everything I did.” Then came the shattering news of inoperable tumors.
I hadn’t known him before his diagnosis, so I was amazed at what he called his radical life change and his commitment to God. “I was strong and self-reliant, but now my weakness gives others an opportunity to do something for me,” he said.
He paused for breath before he added, “I have one regret: I had to reach the stage of helplessness before I realized my need to let other people serve me. I cheated them.”
For days after I left Charlie, his words kept coming back to me. Like Charlie, I had cheated others out of an opportunity to serve me. Charlie’s words have helped me make changes.
Our pastor is also helping me, even though he probably doesn’t realize it. About once a month at church, he asks us to talk to two or three people sitting near us. We’re to tell them one thing for which we’re thankful, and one prayer request. The first is easy; the second has been difficult. But I’m learning.
I’ve also realized something else: the strongest people aren’t the self-sufficient. The strong are those who are willing to face their weaknesses and say, “I need…”
When I face my weakness that’s when I’m strong.
-by Cec Murphey