Vulnerability- Ceramic Also Sharpens Steel

You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17
(The Message- MSG)


I chose to quote Proverbs 27:17 from The Message translation of the Bible because this particular excerpt has made it onto numerous t-shirts, podcasts, and various other forms of popular media. It is almost a throwaway concept at this point, something people say to indicate that two people of strong will, character, body, opinion, and finances. These qualities are admirable; however, humanity is diverse, and there are numerous ways to sharpen a blade.

Ceramic stones are used to put an edge on knives of all types. I would argue that ceramic is more effective at honing and sharpening metal than steel itself. If you want the sharpest blade possible, you certainly will not use metal. Porous ceramic stones and water are used to sharpen the highest quality steel to perfection.

When I think of people at the beginning of their mental health journey or anyone picking themselves up off the ground after a crisis or relapse, they shouldn’t feel compelled to buy into the modern ethos of strength as unyielding as steel. You don’t have to seek a peer to command you through recovery like a drill sergeant. That approach may work for some, but some people may need to seek someone who leads with vulnerability.

Let this reflection give you permission to at least have another option. You can be fragile like a ceramic sharpening stone but still have the grit to wear away steel that was forged and folded to withstand great weight and force.

Loving Creator, we give thanks that strength comes in many forms and vulnerability is essential.

Seth Perry

Seth Perry

ELCA Pastor -Devotional Blogger- Mental Health Recovery Educator-Living Well with Bipolar Type 1


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A devotion. What imagery do you choose to embody strength? Explore the profound wisdom of Proverbs 27:17 and discover how choosing vulnerability can be as effective as strength in sharpening life's challenges.