I really wish that I was as strong as people seem to think that I am.
Truly. I’ve gotten so many comments in weeks past, with the news of our adoption and then the news pretty much immediately following that our son may have autism. Comments from people I have known for years and comments from people I’ve never even seen or spoken to in “real life.”
Lots of the comments revolve around one thing:
My sweet sister reminds me every day when we chat about all of the things that I’m dealing with (or whining about) just how strong I am. My best friend tells me that I am one of the strongest people she’s ever met (thank you, Lauren…<3 you dear!). My husband, God love him, reinforces that fact that I am strong and that I can handle whatever comes our way and that I tend to carry the weight of the whole family on my very thin and narrow shoulders.
But, guys…I’m really not.
I’m weak. And I’m small (I’m not even 5’5″) and I have zero arm strength. I can’t do a push up to save my life and I won’t even bother pretending that I like to exercise or do any sort of weight training. I am a hot mess 99% of the time. My office is a disaster; I lose nearly every important piece of paper that I get my hands on. Just like now, it’s 10:30 pm and I’m still trying to remember where I put my sons doctors note for school tomorrow…I’m pretty sure it’s in the abyss I call my purse, but I can’t be positive.
I rarely, if ever, cook dinner for my family and resort to coffee to keep me going on the days that I don’t get enough sleep. Which is often. I average five hours of sleep per night, sometimes six if I’m really lucky. I take on more than I can handle and I over-committ to projects and jobs without ever slowing down to consider where my time is going to come from or what I’ll have to give up to get it done (again, usually sleep).
I am not strong. I am fragile and weak and broken.
When I think of people who are strong I think of warriors like Samson. People like Abraham who never once second guessed God’s intentions when he told him to sacrifice his son. He just went and did…never missing a beat. People like David who was so worthy that he came from the very city in which Christ would be born and was given the title of being “a man after God’s own heart.” I think of Josh’s sweet grandmother whose legacy was evident and still lingers in the lives of those who knew her before she passed. A woman who hit her knees before ever making her coffee in the mornings praying for her family by name, including those of us who would join the family through marriage, long before we ever came along.
I was reading a book tonight. Those of you who know me know that books and words are my love language. Want to make me turn to a puddle of mush? Take me to a bookstore. Want to win my heart forever? Send me a gift card to somewhere like Lifeway or Barnes & Noble. I love the written word.
Tonight I was reading more in Jennie Allen’s book Anything. It’s another one of those slow reads that I can’t rush through because so many of the words need to be highlighted & annotated and copied to other places. I was reading through the section where she talks about the “scrapbook life” and the plans that we all have for ourselves growing up.
I was voted most likely to succeed in high school. When I graduated, never earning a college degree and spending my life living all over the country wasn’t what my “scrapbook” looked like.
I had things like medical school or a law degree in mind. At one point I wanted to live in NYC working as a writer (think Carrie Bradshaw with a little less risky column). But nonetheless, my scrapbook always included a husband, three or four children, a big SUV and a large four bedroom house with an office space and a formal dining room. My children would go to private school, I would be room mom and we’d live happily ever after. The end.
Funny thing is, God rarely asks us what we want in life.
He never asked me if I wanted to marry into the military and live a life following my husband across the United States. He never asked me if I wanted to say goodbye to not one, but two grandmothers, in a ten day time frame. He never asked me if I wanted to watch my baby sister struggle through surgery after surgery throughout her life in hopes of not completely losing her hearing. He never asked me if I wanted to parent a child who has developmental and psychological delays and problems. He certainly never asked me if I thought that I would be content or be happy working from home rather than out of a big fancy office with a big fat paycheck.
It doesn’t work that way. We don’t get to choose. We don’t even get to narrate the story. Jesus doesn’t have to ASK our permission. We are simply here, riding this roller coaster we call life while God does His thing. He gives us freewill of course. And for those of us who can be blatantly stubborn, he can-and will-certainly let us fall on our faces a few times until we have no other choice but to come crawling back to him, covered in grime and mud and filth, asking him to give us just one more chance to make it right.
I’ve finally realized that the falling part isn’t fun.
I much prefer standing up straight, looking adversity in the eye and throat punching my demons right when they start to bring me down. I don’t like failure. And I don’t like hard times. In fact, I’m that person who cries over everything (no really…ask my husband. Commercials? YouTube videos? Series Finales? I’m usually shedding a tear or ten). I can’t stand to be drug down or to watch the people I care about suffering. And more than likely I’m going to be the one on the sideline cheering you on and pointing out the million and one reasons that you have to be happy.
When we fall flat on our face we realize that we have two options: keep our face in the mud and wallow where we are; or look up to the only one who can really and truly help us get back on our feet.
You see I’m not strong.
I’m not gifted in any ways that you aren’t.
Nothing about me is special or super natural or unusual (well…we’ll leave that unusual comment up for interpretation).
I’m just like the rest of you. I’ve been kicked and stomped all over and done plenty of wallowing in the mud.
I just choose not to anymore.