When we think about power, I expect we think about other people. The power others have, over us, around us, to govern us, perhaps control us, even oppress us. With lockdown regulations, we can feel powerless. This kind of thinking can flow out of a negative perception and attitude towards power.
Perhaps this is over stating it, but it is important for us to reflect upon any default positions we have drifted into. It is probably helpful for us to acknowledge that power can be good and it is not only the domain of others but also resides in each one of us. Do you ever think of your self as powerful? It seems to me that we all have power over so many aspects of life and not to realise this is to overplay ourselves as victims to other individuals and systems. I have control over how I spend much of my money, spend my time, treat others, exercise and express my values and beliefs. I am choosing to take control over lockdown, I would love to frequently be in Cornwall, but I refuse to play victim. I am figuring out thriving not surviving with winter indoor projects, being gentle with myself, getting on with my studies etc. This is exercising power.
How I respond to temptation is also exercising power, control, choices that I have. The joke, I can avoid everything but temptation, expresses that I am rarely a victim to my circumstances. To realise I have the power to choose if I bless or curse other people or places. These are within our power. This is not just for those in leadership, we all have the potential to bless or curse those we relate to. This really came to the forefront in my mind during my latest safeguarding training. To realise that I can so easily abuse people’s trust, safety, dignity. This may not be intentional, but I might still inadvertently do it. This is power. My capacity to bully, oppress, abuse is vast, my resources to choose not to do these thing, are even greater. The same Spirit in Jesus and the disciples in the same that is in us, available to us. This is our source of Godly power.
As we prepare for Lent, the story of Jesus in the wilderness, gives us an inspiring example of exercising wise, strong, Godly power. Speaking truth to power, real or false, to those who would seek to have an oppressive control over us, is our right, even responsibility. We may not be able to take control over every aspect of our life’s, but I expect these are the minority of where power lies. We can choose to let people have power over us for good and ill. Likewise, we can kid ourselves that we know best for others, is tough love, not oppressive control. When someone I had contact with was not treating me with the respect I thought was appropriate, I let it worry me, consume me, think negative thoughts about them and myself. After a while of being very unhappy, I realized I had given them control over my life. They did not take this control, I inadvertently gave them this power. When I realized what a negative effect this was having on me, I made a decision to take back that power. To take control over my inner life, this person did not love me enough, so why should I let their attitude and conduct towards me, control how I reacted. I took back the power and don’t let their conduct dictate who and how I am. I am God’s valued child and I get my affirmation from my God.
We have the power to speak love to hate, kindness to inconsideration, gentleness to oppression, peace, wholeness, well-being to our troubles, God’s values to temptations and oppression. This is the Godly power we all have to exercise upon ourselves and others we relate to, even in the restrictions of lockdown. Let us choose, exercise the power of acting with loving kindness to ourselves and others in preparing for, and during Covid-19 restricted Lent, and at all times. This is our story being inspired and equipped by God’s story.