A power struggle

“Recognizing power in another does not diminish your own.”  Joss Whedon

I’ve had two things running through my mind as of late: themes of “powerlessness” and a “higher power.”

To start with the latter, I’ve pushed back against what I felt was the submissive tone of this one for as long as I can remember. It is something that always sounded ingenuously new-age and felt copied. It was also a little too vague for my liking. As I’ve written before, I believe in bringing things before whatever you choose to bring them before whether that be God, Tara, Cosmic Elvis, Baby Jesus, Cross Jesus, or the Almighty. But I just as strongly believe in naming and have probably become a little bit more fervent in idea this over the years.

But one less patient, less kind day, I had sort of had it with my messiness. I didn’t really have the patience (or the time) for the spiritual trend of embracing one’s less-than-ness. I was tired of “rough drafting” it. It didn’t feel cute or eye-opening or enlightening. It felt out of control. So when I came to prayer as I always do in these situations, which is to say as a last ditch effort, tired and as begrudgingly as humanly possible, I was shocked when what leapt out of my mouth were the words “higher and much more beautiful God.” It was actually a relief to think there’s a force at work that isn’t as messy and scatter spirited as me. I didn’t feel like I was groveling or appeasing or complimenting my way closer to the heavenly dessert table. It felt like, “oh THANK GOD there’s someone here who knows what (or what not) to do!!!”

(To bring this around to theme # 1) The experience itself did not make me feel powerless, per say. It was not a relief in the sense that I could dump all my work off on God’s desk but that I could see where my limits truly lie. In this moment I could also understand that by bounding over these lines and limits on a regular basis I was hurting some part of the system, whether it be an outcome, a relationship, or another person directly.

I also didn’t feel naturally powerless because I was still making a choice. Even in situations where I feel like my preferred choices have been eliminated or the only options are between bad and worse, I still have a choice. Even when I have engaged in situations that are unhealthy or manipulative, I had a choice. In most cases, I had more than a few choices. I think there are awful, tyranically driven things happening in our world on a second to second basis. Things that strip people of their rights, their sense of self, their previously held beliefs. I think to say that these things take away their choice, their power, is to not understand that the definition of an externally-granted power is only one way to look at it.

But I would really like to know how you look at it. What are your thoughts on power and its variations: powerlessness, empowerment, power struggles?

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