Horsin’ Around in Weakness

This one was written by Blake Nail. The shower drain continued to back up even […]

Guest Contributor / 12.17.18

This one was written by Blake Nail.

The shower drain continued to back up even after numerous attempts to pull the mushy clumps of hair out of the black hole. Outside help would have been a wise decision, but I figured I could fix it myself. So I poured Drano down the drain’s hatch over and over again, and it chugged it like a freshman at their first college party. After a couple tries it appeared it wasn’t working.

I still didn’t want the help of the plumbers nor the charge, so I decided quick showers would solve the problem. However, even that couldn’t do the trick, and the downstairs began to flood with water. So I tried even quicker showers and less toilet paper. Soon I found myself standing in my own sewage in my downstairs helplessly calling the plumbers because the shit had literally hit the fan—or the floor, I guess.

Help is not something we as human beings are too fond of. It seems to me we are this way because if we need help, it means we’re weak. Which is exactly the opposite of the message I heard on the radio this morning, a PSA for people struggling with anxiety and depression:

Needing help is not a sign of weakness.

By definition it is. Needing help is a sign of not being able to do or move towards something without the additional hand of someone or something else. But our culture has come to the point where we can’t show any sign of weakness. We even redefine “help” to get past the fact that we are weak creatures who often fall short. Ben Affleck did just this in a recent Instagram post about his journey through addiction and recovery: “As I’ve had to remind myself, if you have a problem, getting help is a sign of courage, not weakness or failure.”

As a culture, we are so afraid of weakness and failure that we not only change the definition of “help” but we have to self-justify when help is sought. If we were truthful, we would all admit we have been defined by weakness and failure at one point or another. We don’t have to hide from this truth or deny it. This is another facet of the gospel, which turns our world upside down: weakness is where we find the grace and power of God. Right at the end of our rope it awaits us.

One of my favorite Netflix series is BoJack Horseman. It’s a rather dark story in a fictional world with nonfictional truths. BoJack has a host of problems, the majority of which he causes, with the exception that some stem from his screwed-up childhood. He is a has-been television star who now has a drinking problem and is consistently a manipulative jackass who uses everyone he knows. He has depression and a darkness inside him he is well aware of, but he seeks to fix it with his own hands because, like us, he needs no help. Instead, he goes the route we all choose, self-salvation in our own strength.

Throughout the current five seasons we see how BoJack has handled his problems and also created more in doing so. To make his life right he tries to repair a friendship he betrayed, only to be rejected forgiveness as his friend dies from cancer. He tries to mentor an old co-worker who also struggles with addiction and depression, but he causes her to relapse and die. BoJack at one point figures a book about himself will do the trick but then scraps it because the author was too truthful about how lost and weak he is. Another time he finally gets to star as the role he’s always wanted to be, Secretariat, but discovers he can’t cry for a scene and ends up being replaced by a CGI copy of himself! If these aren’t enough examples, he also chases after an old love, only to intrude on a happy family and almost have relations with their underage daughter. And finally, after he searches for his unloving and disapproving mother, she does not even remember him, leading him to try to make his life right by raising a long-lost daughter, only to find out she’s not even his child. The point is that BoJack, like us, is a weak creature and makes more of a mess of his life and those around him in his attempts to deny his need and be strong without anyone’s help.

In the latest season of BoJack, some truth gets thrown his way by one of his friends whom he has hurt numerous times:

BoJack, just stop. You are all the things that are wrong with you. It’s not the alcohol or the drugs or any of the shitty things that happen to you in your career or when you were a kid. It’s you. Alright? It’s you.

After an intentional car accident for more pain pills, BoJack seems to have finally come to the end of his so called “strength.” His hand reaches out of the water he’s been drowning in, reaching for mercy and help outside of himself. The season ends with him checking into rehab:

Hello. I am BoJack Horseman. Obviously, you know who I am, because I’m very famous, and also, we called ahead. And I am here because…I need help.

BoJack’s ignorance of his weakness and his inability to admit it resonated with me as I stood downstairs with the plumber in the mess I had made. Not only was the problem much worse than I ever would have known, with pipes below the house’s foundation having to be dug into through layers of concrete and dirt, but also my attempts at fixing it on my own had made it worse. Apparently, Drano is actually not the best for your pipes and ended up clogging them even more. Thankfully there’s a gospel for those of us who are weak: myself, BoJack, maybe even you. Thankfully there’s a God who tells us it’s in our weakness that his grace is there to meet us. Thankfully there’s a God who tells us:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

And that’s straight from the horse’s mouth.