||As You Think
by Father Paul Keenan
We are very pleased to welcome Father Paul Keenan to
SoulfulLiving.com as our newest columnist! With
each new issue, Father Paul will provide us with an
opportunity to pause and ponder, as he shares his
thoughts and wisdom on positive thinking and the use of affirmations
in our daily lives.
This issue’s theme, “Personal Strength and Power” carries with it a paradox. It seems that often we do not realize our true personal strength and power until they are challenged in some
That opinion goes against our normal sense of the words “strength” and “power.” Our natural intuition about power is that we have to take charge, to take command, to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. If anything worthwhile in life is going to happen,
we have to strive to make it happen. We have to use every bit of force at our disposal to make our world to be the way it should be. If need be, we must exert power over others and even over the inner and outer signals we are getting from ourselves and “make things happen.”
That sort of power might get us somewhere for awhile, but it is not the best we can do in terms of personal strength. There is a power that is more genuine and, yes, more potent. It is not a power that we create; it is a power that we receive.
One of the most important principles of the spiritual life is that appearances are often deceiving. As we grow in the spiritual life, we learn that what appears to be true often has a catch to it, and we need to appeal to a higher truth which is beyond
the range of our senses or the common opinion of people at the moment. We begin to get the glimpse of a picture larger than what our ordinary mental processes give us, and we see things in terms of a higher truth.
That is true of our notions of power and strength as well. Authentic power and strength come when we are in apparent weakness. St. Paul pointed this out to the Corinthians centuries ago: “When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10.)
Paul knew whereof he spoke. A staunch defender of his Jewish faith and an ardent persecutor of Christians, his entire life shattered before him, when, on the road to Damascus, a heavenly voice asked him, “Why are you persecuting me?” He was blinded and
confused for days until a man named Ananias cured his blindness and helped him to begin to understand his new identity and mission as a Christian apostle. Later he spoke of his many infirmities and hardships which led him to discover his true strength.
That is the secret of true personal power and strength – they are not created by ourselves but are received, especially at moments when we do not feel the least bit strong. When we feel that we have no resources with which to help ourselves, we can
experience an inner strength beyond any power we had ever imagined ourselves to have.
How do we receive this “higher power?” Again, we must beware of appearances. We may not feel this power right away. Indeed we may feel that our prayers are going unheeded and that we are in a hopeless condition. Nonetheless, the power is there and if
we let ourselves be still and expectant, it will make itself known within us. We may feel it as an inner peace. Guidance may come from within or from others who just “happen” to appear on the horizon. The right book will find its way to us with much-needed guidance and
We receive this higher power by asking for it and by becoming very still. “Be still,” the Bible says, “and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46: 10.) We do not need to force our guidance; if we try to do so we will block it. We do not need to go about in
frantic efforts to alleviate our dire condition; that will only make matters worse. What we must do is surrender – not to our circumstances, but rather to the God who lives above and beyond them. Our power will find us. Then, we can take inspired action.
When we are weak, we are strong. It’s a paradox, all right, but like all paradoxes it leads to an important truth. Our true strength does not lie in external power or the trappings of success, such that if we lose them we are doomed. Our true strength
lies in the spirit, where God dwells. By quietly receiving our true power from him, we will have everything we need.
© Copyright 2008 Father Paul Keenan. All Rights Reserved.
Read Father Paul Keenan's Past
Summer 2007 - "Friendship"
Winter 2006-'07 - "Life's Deeper Meaning"
Summer-Fall 2006 - "The Many Faces of Courage"
Jan-Apr 2006 - "Five Life Lessons"
Oct-Dec 2005 - "Having, Being, and Stillness"
July-Sept 2005 - "The Spiritual Law of Gravity"
April-June 2005 -
"Spiritual Spring Cleaning"
Father Paul Keenan is the author of six books, the most recent of which are “Elisha’s Jars” and “Beyond Blue Snow,” both from Illumination Books. He hosts a daily radio program, “As You Think,” Mondays through Fridays from 9p.m. – 1 a.m. ET, on The Catholic
Channel/Sirius 159. www.fatherpaul.com.