Often in life, we are told that we must "put our best foot forward" and withhold our real weaknesses ...
In my undergraduate days, I served as a residential advisor. After a year, I interviewed for a promotion to the Head Resident position, and my supervisor offered to help me prepare with a “mock interview.”
He asked the usual questions: “What’s a problem you faced last year, and how did you resolve it?” “What is your favorite program you created this year?” and the like. Finally, he asked the tough question: “What is your biggest weakness?”
I paused and swallowed nervously. “Well …” I began. “I suppose my biggest weakness is that I talk too much when I get nervous.”
Right away, my boss pounced. “No!” he started, “Don’t tell me your actual biggest weakness! Instead, put your best foot forward. Tell me something good about yourself, but disguised as a weakness. You know, like ‘Sometimes, I work so hard, I get stressed out!’ or something to that effect.”
Often in life, we are told that we must “put our best foot forward” and withhold our real weaknesses.
This is appropriate in a professional setting; after all, our coworkers are not there to be our
guidance counselors! With friends, however, we do not need to put our best foot forward; we can be vulnerable, we can “let our hair down,” we can vent about our frustrations, fears, and worries, because we trust that they will support us without conditions.
When Jesus calls us his “friends,” do we believe him? Or do we subtly treat Jesus like our boss, disguising our weaknesses and putting only our “best foot forward”?
Jesus’ offer of friendship means the exact opposite: with him, we can put our worst foot forward. We can trust that he will support us without conditions. We don’t need to impress him, earn his love or attention, or hide anything from him — even our sins.
Jesus is not our boss, and our relationship with him is not a job interview! Rather, you and I can approach him anytime, anywhere, in whatever state. We would trust our close friends to
do that for us, and Jesus is closer to us than our closest friend.
When we approach Jesus in this way — with our hands empty and in honest admission of our need for him – we permit him to become our strength precisely where we feel weakest. This is the meaning of the Biblical injunction to “yoke ourselves” to Jesus.
Just as, in Jesus’ time, a cart would have been pulled by two oxen, “taking up Jesus’ yoke” means that you and Jesus bear the burden together. Where you feel you lack the strength to pull the load, he will pull it with you and for you.
So the next time you feel overwhelmed, angry, or afraid, I encourage you to treat Jesus like your closest friend. No need to disguise the messiness and “put your best foot forward”; rather, “put your worst foot forward” and trust that he will support you without conditions.
This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.