A second conversion is the move from strength to weakness. We might call this the transformation of paradox. St. Paul put it this way, “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
At first glance this strikes us as nonsense, and all the more so in a culture where power (however manifested) is taken as a sign of success. Why would anyone in their right mind want to be powerless?
Precisely because we want to take the focus off of ourselves and put it on God. We want people to know that we live by grace, and not by personal grit, the Gross National Product, or anything else we can manufacture or conjure up. We want to live so that the glory of God can be manifested in our mortal bodies.
Without this Christianity is caricatured and counterfeited, coming to be seen as another place where the bold, the bright, and the beautiful create another playground for themselves. Without the strength born of graced weakness, the whole thing becomes another exercise of the ego.
Jean Vanier knows this through the witness of every one of the L’Arche communities he has founded around the world–communities that are populated by people with severe disabilities, but who shine like the sun with the light of God in their lives.
When power becomes weakness, our lives become like stained-glass windows, lives that have the light coming out from the inside and are brightest at night.