So she says to me, “I want what you have in Him … ” and immediately my mind flashes back to that one afternoon.
The sun was overhead and I was still in my sweatpants, thankful to be working from home on the day the tears kept coming. I blubbered, uncorked, to a friend on the phone while I sat at the kitchen table — unusual in a season where I’d locked the doors and pulled the shades and asked most everyone in my life to kindly give me some space. When your life feels like it exploded in front of you, you want a few minutes, even if only to sort through the pieces.
She had few words but her consolation felt like an arm on my back. I wasn’t alone, right? I moved from the table to the couch (in my memory it’s like slow motion, that afternoon is still so near to me) and I wept. When would all this life-unraveling end? Each individual circumstance — struggles with Nate, infertility, unexpected adoption delays, a dear friendship severed — felt like one large brick in a wall between me and the rest of the world. I was a weak puddle and the only tangible strength in sight was the force of circumstances, unyielding and beyond my reach. They hedged me.
For someone whose strength was their drive and who wore productivity like a girl scout badge, to have so many pieces of my life come undone at once was especially disorienting.
No one would have wanted what I had. I certainly didn’t.
But that wall of circumstance was a hedge. That day on the couch I cried tears into the hands of the One I’d only recently met as tender. He shelled off the world around me and spoke to me when I was a hot mess. Call me Rahab: prostitute, yet noticed by God.
God was near when my heart broke.
I correct her gently, knowing the fragility of her heart.
“I’m just the worst one in the family,” she retorts and flashes eyes at me, like the ones I saw years ago, that say “orphaned.”
No bandwidth for being teachable, she’s gone under. She learned back when she had a full mouth of baby teeth — from peers throwing words more harmful than sticks and stones — that the only ones who would get out of that orphanage were the strong. Though orphanhood is the ultimate weakness, even the orphan comes to believe their own strength can save them.
And this little instance of weakness took her right back to the grasping orphanage — shame the operative emotion for the one who can’t muster enough strength to conquer those parts of herself that she hates.
Because isn’t conquering weakness the ticket out? says her history.
Here I am, now with a baby in tow and beautiful friends and a marriage, while still singed, that’s been forged in fire. Though my externals look different, I’m wrestling under the same story line.
What do I do with my weakness?
Then it was doors slammed and words haphazardly slung like mud, a hollow womb and empty bedrooms. That one day on the couch wasn’t an isolated incident. I shed months and years of tears over the outward life I’d desired that kept slipping like sand through my hands.
Now, in this season, I’m still yet grabbing at sand.
Life is chaos. I barely leave my bedroom hideaway in the morning before I face six requests and two children squabbling in the corner room and a text from a friend asking if I’d forgotten what I’d promised her I’d do. The list gets longer every week and the house accumulates dirt and my heart is all tied in knots about all that’s required of me and all that I’m not. I second guess myself and give into nerves about new situations and wrestle down anxiety.
I bleed weakness all over my day and my kids. Every. single. day. I go to bed with a resolve for a new day, tomorrow, only to face the same parts of me that make me cringe.
Years ago that weakness showed itself in the form of circumstantial pressing and delays. I didn’t need to search inside, it was all around me. Now that weakness bubbles up from within.
I fight hard against it and subtly believe I’ll one day walk strong. I make resolutions and determine a new way. I flash orphan-eyes at Him and let that phrase — “I’m just the worst one in the family” — spiral me downward in shame or be my fleeting energy surge for new dedication. I fabricate strength and live just like the orphan, as if conquering weakness is my ticket out.
And then a kind of death is the end of my story — fallen short, before I’ve reached those wooden beams.
All the while the beauty is just inches away from where I fail. The crossbeams rest in front of me, reminding me that those blood stains on them are the most beautiful part of Him.
They are the most beautiful part of me. The cross is the most beautiful part of me.
The thing for which I hastily want to compensate makes the demonstration of Him, in me, perfected. It binds me to the cross. It binds me to Him.
The cross, then, becomes my everyday story. I can’t get through the list — and He surprises me. I’m short with her, I repent — and He draws us closer. I give hours, not minutes, to that fog of anxiety only to collapse at His feet — and He not only holds my fears but He holds me. I blow it with a friend — and He initiates a new depth of vulnerability between us.
Weakness offers me dozens of opportunities in one single day to be tethered. To Him.
The bone-tired mama, the bread winner who just lost their job, the one who is lonely in a brand new city, the missionary waiting on the next support check, the sick-and-house-bound husband, the woman whose child is developmentally delayed are all afforded the same opportunity.
Wanna grow deep in Him?
(Pssst …and some of the most beautiful ones of the faith, historically, are the ones with distinguishable weaknesses.)
For Your Continued Pursuit: 1 Peter 4:13 | Philippians 3:10 | 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 | Romans 6:11-13 | 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 | Galatians 6:14
First four photos compliments of Mandie Joy. And the fifth? It’s mine!