When you hear the word “weakness”, what comes to your mind?
The state or condition of lacking strength?
A personal defect, deficiency or failing?
Helplessness – unable to help oneself; powerless ?
These are all definitions of weakness.
In its essence tome means:
Weakness is not a popular word for many. Nor is it a fond word in my vocabulary. Coming from a childhood where independence was a daily lesson learned, weakness is a hard option – at least to ADMIT. My parents raised me in a faith filled home but also with a work ethic and a strong push towards self -sufficiency. I obviously leaned heavy in the wrong direction. Rather than lean into the grace and strength of God, when I came to the fork in the road between His sufficiency for me and the one that said “you can do this on your own” – I chose wrong. And proceeded to try and manage my life doing it all myself. And painfully so!
Although I have made some progress, my default button is to occasionally revisit the self sufficiency road. And to become discouraged when it no longer works for me as it has in the past.
Hi, my name is Joy – and I am weak!
On any given day I could land in any of the weakness camps but the ones I land in the most are the condition of lacking strength or feeling like my weaknesses are a defect or deficiency on my path in life. Things that hold me hostage to what I want or need to accomplish. Personality flaws. Limitations. Things that I can’t muster “ability” to change.
In my early years I found ways to cover up those flaws with the determination to be strong and independent and held tight to them for a significant portion of my life. It became something to prove. To myself. My family. Other people. A perceived problem that needed to be fixed. I’m not sure when or why this took root in me – but it did. In a society that frowns upon weakness, I found ways to stand above them. Or believed the lie that I could. So much lost time that I could have experienced peace rather than pressure.
Proving myself is not what God wanted from me. I put expectations on myself that God had NOT placed on me. Getting my act together and pulling myself up to be strong wasn’t the answer. But it’s what I believed in the early seasons of my life that God expected. Pull it together Joy. Do better. Try harder. Stop giving me reasons to be angry! We’ve been here before.
I’ve done all the things I believed were expected from me. Rather than show weakness I’ve been a “doer”, a people pleaser, an approval seeker. See – look at me. I can do it!!! Whatever it is. I . Can. Do. It! Never mind that I wasn’t always supposed to. I could!! And that’s what mattered.
I’ve traveled across the country with no job or money, knowing not a single person. I’ve moved to multiple cities and started over on my own. I’m not afraid to leave the country or try new things or go to “unsafe places”. I’ve managed to do all the necessary things in my life on my own. No problem. Yet when it comes to the “inner” workings of my life where it matters most – I don’t have it. It has been a war within. My flesh is rebellious against losing control.
Don’t get me wrong. God has placed certain abilities in me and has given me a tremendous amount of strength – but taken too far sometimes becomes an idol of self sufficiency. A cover up for times that I really am weak and don’t want to say so. Rather than rest in the strength and grace of God’s sufficiency, I have pushed through to prove my own. And in turn missed out on the blessing of finding a different kind of strength. Better than mine.
Many years ago on a mission trip in Panama I remember having a conversation with two dear ladies on the fact that I had spent my whole life depending on myself. My strength, my abilities and that I was so ready to learn how to fall in to the arms of the one who calls me to be dependent on Him. What would that even look like? I am unsuccessful in fulfilling my own needs outside of the tasks for living. Sometimes I don’t even know what those needs are-just that I am deficient.
These questions and nudges were sweet whispers from a loving God who wants to provide rest for my weary, independent, approval seeking soul. I became restless with my life and its constant struggle. All the things I was doing to try and rise above were no longer working. Keeping it together was unfulfilling-not to mention impossible.
A slow, painful unraveling and years of transition began to take place.
Oh the opportunities that have come over the years to teach me that I am weak and need Him! On many days I am SO WEAK! Too weak to take another step, too weak to do all the things I desire to do with my family, too weak to pursue my dreams because it requires energy that I just don’t have, too weak to dive in to the ministry that has my heart but not my time. Weak in my prayers some days. Weakness in how I respond to circumstances surrounding my children or other situations that I’ve never been in. WEAK! And with those realizations the enemy comes fast and frequent to remind me of my shortcomings. You will never be where you want to be, God can’t use you, why would he use a weak and inconsistent person like you? So many lies that my rational mind know to be false but so easy to listen to when it becomes a routine voice that shows up at just the right time “IN” my weakness. The time I am most vulnerable to the lies and too tired to fight them. Maybe he’s right I begin to think. What am I even trying to do. I can’t handle it. And its true – I can’t! Not on my own.
From finding myself as a single mom, to depending on him daily for my finances, my job, my body to function, (emotional breakdown from years of stuffing my pain ) there are few areas that God has not required me to have utter dependence on Him.
The most recent need for dependence….acceptance of my own mental illness and its limitations. My fight with antidepressants. My fight with feeling like I could rise above the need. The question on repeat…. “I’ve overcome so much in my life God why can’t I overcome this??? “ I could not! I’ve spent the last few months slipping away in the rebellion of ignoring my need rather than stepping up to the reality of my illness. For months feeling like I haven’t had the words to pray, been the person I needed to be for my family, or to do the work I need to do, and refusing to submit to the truth. Trying again and again to find ways to manage. The lie that says I need to get it together. That I CAN get it together. Change my diet, take supplements, exercise, all the right things and all good things. All things that are in my control. But not the one thing that I need in my life that is beyond my control.
So my options become retreat or surrender. Continue to fight for my way or let God do what only God can do.
I finally got to the place of feeling completely defeated, empty, unable to do for myself, even the good and right things. I SURRENDER GOD. I surrender to your way. I surrender to my weakness. And in my surrender He shows up.
Every day I get a new opportunity to trust God at his word.
Some days I have layed down in defeat.
Some days I have surrendered.
My desire is that I will learn to be quicker in my surrender. I am in a place in my life that I can no longer ignore my utter dependence on Gods sufficiency – HIS STRENGTH- to meet me in my weaknesses.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I WILL BOAST all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Boast? Boast about my weaknesses? I’ve spent my whole life trying to cover them up. Fight against them. Rise above them. Prove something. Boast?- NEVER!!
But maybe there is something to that….the hidden gem in the minefield!
“Authentic faith doesn’t seek to cover up all its imperfections and weaknesses. Rather, it understands that our imperfections are the very placesGod chooses to reveal himself to and through us.” Lisa Bevere
My struggles remind me of Paul in the bible. We don’t know the specifics of his struggle (the thorn in his side), nor do I think God intended us to. But I think we can all relate with his desire to have the “uncomfortable” thing removed. Whether it is illness, weakness, whatever your thing is, I think a lot of us have something we wish God would take away or change or fix. Something that just doesn’t fit right with us.
Paul asked for the thorn to be removed and God said NO!! Many times in my life I have asked for things to be different and God says no. Not because he wants to deny me but because He has something so much better.
I love both of these translations of 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
ESV. Many are the opportunities to feel weak which in turn lead me to have to look at my glaring pride in the face. The pride that says I can,I should,I used to! How exhausting. (And very much the conversation in my head on any given day). So to keep me from being conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamaties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
MSG. Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mightly! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christs’ strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size – abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.
Do I see my issues as a gift for my good? Until recently, no.
Am I content in my weaknesses? Usually not.
Do I boast in them or try and sweep them under the rug? Sweeper all day long!!!
Good cheer over limitations. I am so anti-cheerful when I butt up against my limitations! God has full hands working on my sanctification….
What if I were to allow him to reveal himself to me in those moments rather than push him aside trying to do it on my own in pride? Story of my life. I’d like to break the cycle.
Hopefully one day I will be eager to boast in my weaknesses because I know that in them God will be made known. To be OK with being weak because ultimately it has made me stronger. That his grace will be even more evident in my life. I know that I can keep moving forward despite my weaknesses because it is in these very momentsthat he chooses to show up for me again and again. He is faithful! Even though I continually revisit patterns that DO NOT WORK!!!
The truth is, my real value is not in others seeing me as perfect, but in others seeing God’s grace revealed in my imperfections. I think I stole that from somewhere….. but it’s still the truth.
So who wants to join me on this journey of celebrating their weaknesses? Not many I’m sure but here are some questions to ask yourself.
What are the limitations that the enemy tries to use against you?
How are you fighting against them instead of allowing His grace to flow into?
Are you choosing to retreat or surrender?
Weakness is not failure. It’s an opportunity!
I Corinthians 1:27- But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.
Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Not in my strength but his. So I boast!! For I have many opportunities for God’s power to rest on me.