I recently saw a play adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, a wonderful book I loved growing up written by Madeleine L’Engle. The book touches on many things, but there was a scene in the play that I forgotten that I didn’t understand as a child. As the story goes two siblings and their friend look for their father on a dangerous planet. The children are about to lose their guides/protectors but are left gifts. Mrs. Whasit, one of the strange protectors, strengthens Charles Wallace’s youthful resistance and Calvin’s ability to communicate. Both of these aspects are magnifying the character’s strengths, yet Meg gets something different:
“Meg, I give you your faults.”
“My faults!” Meg cried.
“But I’m always trying to get rid of my faults!”
“Yes,” Mrs. Whatsit said. “However, I think you’ll find they’ll come in very handy on Camazotz.”
As I child I never truly understood the beauty of this exchange. Meg is a child envious of her mother’s beauty, of the connections other kids are able to make, and of the intelligence that comes easy for the rest of her family. All she can see is how she does everything wrong and sees nothing special about herself. Nothing makes her unique and all she can see is those faults which she constantly tries to hide.
How many of us relate to Meg. Do we avoid the swimsuits because we are not “beach body” ready? Do we hold back in saying something because we think others won’t be interested? Do we compare our lives to what we see other post on social media? Do we constantly have a voice telling us we are not good enough?
These repetitive thoughts often lead us to limiting ourselves. If only I could lose a few more pounds. If I could find something interesting or intelligent to say. If only my life weren’t so dull. If only I could be happier or more self-confident.
We all have our versions of these thoughts. We all have our faults and weaknesses and are constantly striving to be rid of them. But what if instead of trying expunging our weaknesses, we try to find the hidden gifts within them.
On Meg’s adventure she finds her stubbornness saves her life and allows her to rescue her family. Her stubbornness becomes her ability to stand up for what is right. Someone who is shy might also come off as reflective. If I am seen as dull then am I also seen as reliable?
David Rendall, author of Freak Factor: Discovering Uniqueness by Flaunting Weakness, offers this list of weaknesses that are often the flip side of the same coin on strengths that we carry. Can you see any of these describe yourself?
Sometimes our strengths and weaknesses mirror each other. Just as being organized sometimes is seen as being inflexible, someone who is disorganized can be seen as creative. Being a realist can come off as being negative, and being positive can come off as unrealistic. Both are two sides of the same coin. Take this for example. I have a close male friend that is lean and pines to be able to put on more weight. He gets discouraged when another friend puts down his dismay as the friend is trying to lose weight. Both people are struggling to be an ideal self, but neither can appreciate a hidden value they have because they want what others have. Neither can be happy cause all they see is their faults and not the strengths.
This also reminds me of the art of Kintsugi. This is a Japanese practice of repairing broken pottery using adhesive mixed with gold dust. The end product shows off a beautiful work of art that highlights the blemished parts of the pottery. Normally when we have broken things we try to hide our cracks, but with Kintsugi, it shows off the cracks. The pottery is no longer a uniform mass produced piece but becomes something unique and often more beautiful than it was before being damaged.
We all bare our scars and shortcomings. But we are more than that. I encourage you to find the cracks and fill them with gold and new insight. I also encourage you to be someone’s Mrs. Whatsit for sometimes it is easier for us to see other’s weaknesses as strengths than to see our own. And maybe, just maybe if we look deep within the cracks of our faults we will find the hidden gold that makes us unique.