There’s something reassuring about realizing that we’re powerless.
I know that sounds like a strange thing to say. After all, Father Thomas Keating has identified the need for power and control is one of the primary instinctual needs – along with the needs for affection and esteem; safety and security.
If we have these instinctual needs or drives, including a need for power, why would it be reassuring to realize we’re powerless?
Well, think about it. We can put a lot of pressure on ourselves if we feel like we always need to be in control. For me, that translates into needing to get things right, make no mistakes, and formulate the best plan to prove I have everything under control. Not to mention never appearing vulnerable or upset about anything.
The irony, of course, is that we’re not in control of much. Sure, we can coordinate our lives to the best of our potential, but there are so many factors we can never account for. Truth is, we’re not in charge of much, even if we like to think we are.
We have to remember that these instinctual needs Father Keating talks about are compensatory. In other words, we’re trying to compensate for something we lack – power, control. Accepting our powerlessness, therefore, sets things straight. We acknowledge who’s really in charge – God – and this gets us off the hook.
I don’t mean that in a negative way, either. Like I’m trying to get out of taking responsibility for what I do or who I am. I just mean sometimes we have to face facts.
That’s hard when we were younger, especially since we don’t know what the truth is. For all we know as children, maybe we are powerful, like Wonder Woman!
As we grow older, experience teaches us that we’re not Wonder Woman or Superman or even Batman, and that’s okay. Because we do have a powerful protector, somebody who shares the divine nature with us. And that’s where our power lies. Not in ourselves, but within ourselves.