A while back a good friend of mine paid me the compliment of calling me a strong woman. My mouth said, “Aw, well thank you,” but my brain rolled its invisible eyes & said, “Girl, don’t call me that…I am exhausted. I am a camel hair’s width away from breaking & withering on the inside. I just want to go hide in a hole…I am the furthest from being strong that a person can get.”
And yes, at that point, my brain was telling the truth better than my mouth. In the past 10 years, I may have greeted you with a smile & kindness, but I can almost guarantee you I was dying on the inside. Over that period of time I:
- almost walked away from my faith on more than one occasion.
- felt completely & utterly worthless to myself or anyone else.
- felt like a complete failure as an educator, as a wife, as a business owner, as a Christian.
- felt crushed FOR YEARS by an overwhelming, paralyzing sense of depression & anxiety.
- felt like I had zero clues as to who I was or who/what I wanted to be when I grew up…even though I was already grown up.
In the past 10 years, I have felt so incredibly empty & broken on the inside. I described it to someone this way:
When I was a kid I felt like I was a solid block of wood. I thought I was whole, I thought I knew where I was going. But somewhere along the way, someone began taking a piece of sandpaper to me over & over & over & over. It went on so long it felt like all that was left of me was the thinnest piece of veneer of that original block of wood & that if the sandpaper took one more swipe to me there’d be nothing left at all.
So no…I am not strong, so don’t call me strong.
I am so beyond weak, BUT GOD (my favorite words in the Bible)… But God is strong! He has taught me that IN THE MIDDLE of my weakness, HE is strong! If it took Him destroying every part of me to get me where He needed me, I am 100% okay with that, because now? Looking back at the view of every detail He has strung together over the years is more stunningly beautiful than anything I ever could have imagined, planned, or worked out for myself.
So no, don’t call me strong, because I am weak…but in the past 10 years God has shown His strength by:
- rebuilding my faith on His unshakeable Word & foundation, not on any imperfect person, thing, or institution.
- teaching me my value is in Him ALONE, not my accomplishments, failures, possessions, lack thereof, or what anyone else has to say or think.
- redeeming every failure & mistake & turning them instead into experiences & lessons I can apply in the area my heart first longed to work, to begin with…with students.
- raising me out of the quicksand of depression & anxiety to where I could just breathe & rest in Him.
- teaching me I can’t do everything & I can’t control life, but to let Him guide me instead…He’s the One with the lamp & road map…just let Him lead.
- teaching me marriage is FAR more than pearls, 50s fashion, having dinner on the table, or a forever sleepover with your best friend…it is hard, but it can be an amazing & tangible example of God’s love for us & can make all the difference if you don’t give up.
- showing me that my identity is found in Him alone…not in what I do or make of myself.
- making me more whole in Him than I have ever been in my life.
So no…I am weak, so don’t call me strong.
But see, in my weakness, God shows His strength all the more…so whatever failure you feel…whatever loss, depression, hurt, anger, brokenness, addiction, or mistake…whatever weakness you have, God can redeem it & turn it into strength if you let Him.
He has for me…and that? That is what I will boast all day, erry day.
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-11
“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.” – Isaiah 40:29
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” – John 3:30