I AM Weak, I really Am…but Thou Art Strong

Some of my favorite lady bloggers are my favorites because they don’t mind sharing their weaknesses.  Glennon over at Momastery is doing a series right now called “Sacred/Scared” where women are being gut level honest about their fears.  Letting us in to see their truth.  To show that we are not the only ones who are afraid.

Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience shared a post in early February called “Why Weak is the New Strong” and she told the truth about her weakness.  We women nodded in agreement and we said, “Yes, I have been there.”

My friends Jen and Ann are both walking through a very rocky valley and they don’t mind saying, “This is hard.  It sucks.  I’m having a really hard time.”  They speak the truth and that is where their strength comes from.

And now I am walking into an epiphany.

Somewhere along the way, my heart twisted positive thinking and pulling myself up by the boot straps as the only real strength.  But now I am learning…authentic emotion, being willing to wade through where I really am, being weak is the only real strength.

How many times have we heard it said, “My power is made perfect in your weakness.”  But do we let Him in to make His power perfect?  Do we break down who we are and where we are and what we’re going through and do we cry out, “God, I can’t do this.” so that He can bring real, true strength?

I am slowly learning.  Slooooowly learning.

There is no virtue in my stuffing feelings down and being “strong”.  It just creates a prison.

Yesterday, I saw this on Glennon’s facebook page and I could not stop thinking about it all day long.

bekind

 

How true is this?  We are all going through something!  Whether it be a dying relative or kids puking at 2am, we are all going through hard things.

I humbly offer that sometimes we think our hard things aren’t “enough” to warrant feeling our way through them.  That maybe we think we just shouldn’t sweat it because someone always has it worse.  Or maybe we think that if we throw enough Scripture and platitude at the problem, it will lose its power.

Sometimes I make people uncomfortable when I talk about how much I wish Nora’s twin was with us.  I have a deep ache for that baby, a grief that is renewed with every new thing Nora does.  She has learned to walk and I can’t help but envision another baby taking first steps too.  Yesterday, she gathered up all of the remotes and gave them to Aubrey, who did not need them and I wondered what kind of quirky stuff Asher would’ve done.  I think about that baby a lot.  And I am learning to let myself grieve him…as it comes, in waves.

But well-meaning and beloved ones want to make it okay for me.  They want to come up with reasons why it’s a blessing  and God knows best  and He works all things together for my good.  They don’t want me to feel sad and the heart behind it is so pure and there is comfort in loved ones wanting to ease my pain.  I don’t mean to discredit these well meaning words.

But, when someone will just stand in my pain with me, hold my arms up, say, “Yes.  It is so sad that Asher isn’t growing up with Nora.”  or even just, “I’m sorry.”  Without a but or a qualifier or an admonition to trust God and it’ll be okay…There are not enough words to describe how that heals.

Because the truth of it all is…being honest about how we feel does not disqualify those other truths.  I can be so sad about Asher, but God can still be good.  God does know best.  And He does work all things together for my good.  But He can also handle my grief and tears.  He can swoop in and in that place where I am being real, authentic and truly vulnerable, he can heal my heart.  Grieving a loss does not negate the good God has given me.

He can work with me when I’m not busy maintaining a shell of “strength”.

He can heal my heart when I’m not busy building a shell of positivity over it.

He can work with me, in that place of authentic vulnerability and it is so uncomfortable but so worth it.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are they that mourn…

Loving Much

I’m not even supposed to be posting until March.  John and my friend Kerry and I are working on a new look and a new format for this old blog and my plan was not to blog again until we launched it.

And for that matter, I’m not even supposed to be sitting in this chair on my laptop.  My house is a MESS.  And not a cute little mess, either, where there’s just a few toys on the floor and maybe a couple of pairs of kids’ shoes in the hall.  I’m talking college frat boy level mess.  Dirty dishes, dirty laundry, book bag contents, spilled and then dried coffee, toys, toys, toys, shoes, muddy tracks in the hall from the feet of kids, grown ups and a great big dog.  Monday and Tuesday are busy daycare days and Wednesday was wall to wall appointments and it doesn’t take long for a house filled with kids and animals and a bunch of inherently messy adults to wreck the place.  We’ve done a bang up job.

But everyone knows I hate cleaning and besides I think I’ve arrived at an epiphanal (It’s possible that “epiphanal” is not a real word but I’m gong with it) truth and I’ve got to share it with you.  Even if you  might not like it.  Or maybe you will.  I don’t know but it doesn’t much matter.

I’m always talking love, gratitude and restoration.   And lately at Grace Church, we’ve been talking about discipleship.  And lately, in counseling, I talk with my therapist about Receiving Love.  Being Loved.

And I’ve figured out that learning to Be Loved is the key to the whole thing.  Learning to Be Loved and then sharing that Love.

So, I was thinking about all this today as I was driving back to preschool with Claire’s lunch box that I did not place in her bookbag this morning…

I was thinking about the lady I met in the waiting room at Claire’s opthamologist’s appointment.  She had four boys and upon hearing that I had five daughters and only one son, she said this:  “I’m so glad I didn’t have girls.”  And actually did a little fake shudder, horror at the thought of having a daughter.

And immediately, offense rose up in me.  This is a hot button issue for me because I just don’t think boys or girls are better than the other.  One is not harder than the other, one is not easier…frankly, parenting is hard.  One kids, two kids, thirteen kids, all boys, all girls, some of each, it’s hard.  And anyway, you can’t paint one whole gender with such a broad brush.  You can’t.  My five girls are all different from one another, some hard at times, others not as much…they all have their own quirks, they all have their own strangths and you know what?  It really pisses me off when people act like one gender is preferable  to the other.

See?  This stuff makes me stabby.

And all of that was running through my head so loud that I almost didn’t hear the still, small voice gently pulling me out of offense and selfishness and into compassion.

“Hear her in this.”

Because here is what she said next.  “I just know any girl I would’ve had would’ve turned out like me.”  And she said it and laughed but because God opened my eyes…I saw the hurt in her words.

How do I know her story?  Where that misogyny was born?  Who spoke ugliness about daughters over her?  How do I know that she isn’t bitterly disappointed about not having a daughter and covering it over with jokes and bravado?  How dare I take offense?  I don’t know her story.

And she went on to talk about her divorce and raising four boys by herself and I listened and we chatted and then it was time for Claire to go see the eye doctor.

She has stayed on my mind and I am praying for her and our paths may never cross again and that’s fine.  But I almost missed an opportunity to  love because I was so quick to take offense.

And that got me thinking about the modern church and how we are so quick to boycott, so quick to take offense, so quick to picket and protest and pray for people to stop sinning and get their life together.  Our ministry is not to meet needs and share this Great Love that we’ve been given, this Great Grace and Redemption and Deliverance…but no, our ministry has turned into “helping people change” or “calling people out of sin” or “standing against (insert sin du jour here)”.  Is this really His plan for us?  His desire for us?

How can it be?

Is it love that goes first and foremost out of us?  Is it grace?  Is it peace?  Who have you ever heard of who came to a closer relationship or a relationship at all with Jesus because of a boycott or a protest or from being “held accountable” by someone who was not invited to their life to hold them accountable?  But how many have felt the love of Jesus from a kind word, a listening ear, a hot meal, a paid bill, some babysitting, a visit?

We need to be reminded:

god-is-love

We need to be reminded:

Matthew 22-37,40

We need to be reminded:

1corinthians13

And you know what else?  Let’s stop acting like our sin isn’t equal to the sin we’re always making such a fuss about.  We are ALL sinners and we have ALL fallen short of the glory of God.  And every single sin, the ones that Christians find “acceptable” and the ones we don’t are all the same and are all the nails in His hands and the thorns in His forehead, the sword in His side.  Every drop of His blood that was spilled was for EVERY sin and that is what makes them equal in His eyes.

How His heart must break when we are so busy calling out sin and not pouring out love.

I want my heart to break over that too.

Matthew 25:31-46

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

This is His heart.  That we stop making it our ministry to change people and start making it our ministry to love people into the kingdom.  He wants to lavish His love on His people, all of us, no matter what our favorite sins are.  His love and forgiveness and His sacrifice was for us all.  For the annoying, for the addicted, for those who can not or will not help themselves, for those who’ve got it all together and for those who are just a big mess, for the weirdo and the non-weirdo alike, for the awkward and the confident.  We all hold the same value.

Jesus died for every sin and every wound and every single soul that His father made.

I want to lead with love.  I want the love of Jesus to fill me up so much that it sloshes out on everyone I meet.  I want to be known by love and not judgement, to be known by grace and not condemnation, to be known by mercy and not self righteousness, to be known by acceptance and not by pride.  I want to see my fellow man, woman and child through the eyes of Christ and offer the love He’s given me to them.

Because…

Luke 7:38-50

38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[a]and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

 This woman was a sinner, just like we all are, but she was an unacceptable kind of sinner.  She was weird and she was awkward and she just pushed her way into a respected male home and she pushed way under the table and poured out tears and perfume all over his feet.  Picture that.

Just picture it.

It’s dinner time and Jesus is at someone’s house, eating.  And this woman, (a known prostitute or adulteress?  I’m not sure, ask John Carter, he’s the theologian around here), she is weeping in the presence of this Jesus who has covered her with grace.  Her love is so great, it is falling from her eyes and she must pour it out at his feet.  

And this woman is me.  This woman is you.  This woman is all of us who profess to love Him.  We have all been forgiven much, we have been bought at such a high cost.  How are we not pouring out our love on everyone we see?  Loving much, because we’ve been forgiven much.

But the thing I really want us to SEE here is how Jesus received her.  He did not call out her sin, it was there between them and He knew about it and she knew about it.  But what He saw was her love and what He gave was His love.

This is our Jesus.  Leading with love.  Waving a banner of love.  Grace.  Redemption.  Peace.  Joy.

So, that’s where I’m at today.  That letting Him love me and in turn sharing that love is the key to it all.  To making disciples, to evangelism, to being a good friend, to honoring others, to being a good mom…it’s the key to it all.

My prayer for you and my prayer for me….”Beloved, be loved.”