Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Weakness I Wasn't Expecting

Anyone who knows me well or who has read my blog on a somewhat regular basis will know that I'm not too shy about admitting my weaknesses.  I know full well that I'm anxious, awkward, soft-spoken, hot-tempered, easily discouraged, insecure, and well, pretty much just a hot mess.  I also like myself fairly well most of the time.  I struggle with guilt over silly things and often get frustrated with how hard it is for a lot of people to understand me, but I figure I'm all right.  All this crazy here comes with a large side order of awesome, so I can't complain.  

And there are those who disagree and even get angry with me because they think I'm being too hard on myself.  Maybe I am, sometimes.  But there's a difference between feeling sorry for myself and just being realistic.  And the reality is that I've got a lot weakness.  The reality also is that God has a lot of strength.  If I have any reason to boast, it's not in me.  It's always in Him.

My life verse, for lack of a better term, is 1 Corinthians 1:27 (I'm including some context verses):

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;  but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,  and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,  so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,  so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”(1 Corinthians 1:26-30)

But people aren't comfortable with weaknesses.  And I'd like to believe I'm more comfortable than I am with them, but I've recently been reminded that I'm not all that comfortable with my weaknesses, either.

It started last Sunday morning.  Yes, last Sunday, that somehow feels like it happened about 5 years ago.  We had a guest speaker.  He was talking about Ezekiel and how the dry bones came to life, and how God is able to do things that are impossible for man.  And I was nodding my head and "amening" and thinking, "That is so true."  And I found myself praying that God would continue to be strong through my weaknesses, that God would continue being wisdom in my folly, because that's my only hope.

And my mind wandered (that happens occasionally, okay?) and I started thinking about all the dreams I have, all the things I am trying to accomplish with my writing and everything else.  And I prayed in my heart, "Thank you, God, that I'm weak and foolish.  Thank you.  It's a blessing.  Because I know, I KNOW I can't do these things on my own.  And I pray that you'll help me put in the work I need to do, but I pray even more that you will go before me and make a way for these dreams to happen.  I want to know, I want everyone to know, that there's no way I can ever achieve my dreams without your help.  I want to be able to stand on the other side of success and be able to proclaim how weak I am, so that others will know that the only way I was able to accomplish these things was through your strength.  I want to see my weaknesses as a gift."

And I was a little specific in my request.  But God doesn't always do things the way we expect.  

And so Tuesday morning, my car broke down.  Again.  In fact, the a/c compressor got stuck, overheated, melted a lot of stuff underneath my car, and almost caught my car on fire.  On.  Fire.  And I had kids in the car with me.  I held it together long enough for the kids to get picked up by friends and parents, and then I kind of panicked a little.  I wasn't clear-headed enough to make well-informed decisions, so when I called AAA and they suggested I go to an AAA service center, I was like, "AAA.  Yes.  Okay.  Good."  Their labor was expensive, so I overpaid.  And I left the service center with a weird sound in my car that wasn't there before.  When I took it back to ask if maybe they hadn't tightened a bolt up properly or whatever, they said that THEY hadn't done anything wrong, but that another part needed fixing, one that might possibly be responsible for the weird sound.  They showed it to me, and it was an old part, and it probably did need replacing.  So I had that fixed, too.  And it was also a little expensive.  But the weird sound is still in my car.  The guy told me it would be another part that needed fixing, and it would be expensive.  But I couldn't afford any more expensive.  

My emergency credit card was (and is) nearly maxed out.  I no can afford any more emergency.

And I felt as though I'd been taken advantage of (probably not, but I should have gone somewhere with cheaper labor costs).  And I felt as though I'd just made nothing but horrible decisions.  And I felt as though I'd been the biggest idiot in the world for not buying a new-to-me car last year when my transmission went out, instead of getting the transmission fixed.  

Then at about 5:15 this morning, I woke up from a bad dream to an absolute nightmare.  Something in my dream had made me jerk, and when I jerked, excruciating pain woke me up.  I couldn't move.  For a few terrifying seconds, I thought I was paralyzed, but it was small relief to realize that I couldn't possibly be paralyzed because it hurt SO badly.  I tried to get up, but my neck and right shoulder were just locked up in pain.  It took me about fifteen minutes to get to the point where I could sit up.  I figured I should go try to take a shower to relax the muscles.  Standing up took another ten minutes.  I carefully rummaged around, getting my shower stuff together.  Then I walked towards my bedroom door.  

I hadn't even stepped into the hallway when my vision started going all black and fuzzy, and I realized that I was in so much pain that my body just wanted to go ahead and lose consciousness for a bit.  I had the common sense to hold on to the door frame for dear life.  I stood there about ten seconds, waiting for the dizziness to subside, but it just got worse.  I realized somehow that I was either going to have to lower myself to the floor (which I knew was going to hurt like the dickens on account of my neck going on strike) or I was going to collapse to the floor against my will and maybe get injured even further in the process.  So I sucked it up and grit my teeth through the pain and lowered myself to the floor.  I lie flat on my face for a few minutes and got a bit friendly with my carpet.  

I did not actually pass out.  But something interesting happened.  You know that RED ALERT sound that they play on Star Trek when the ship is being attacked by Klingons or Romulans or spacial anomalies or whatever? body was literally on RED ALERT.  The black spots in front of my eyes changed color and started flashing red.  My ears were ringing and even pulsating LOUDLY like an alarm.  So I figure that my body is pretty much the U.S.S. Enterprise.  NCC 1701-D.  Because Data and Picard are my homies.  Yo.

But all I could do was to lie there waiting for the lights to stop flashing, the ringing in my ears to go away.  

When it did, I managed to sit up on the floor.  I was thankful my heating pad was under my bed where I could reach it, and I had some ibuprofen in my lunch bag, which I'd left by my bed.  So I drugged myself up and heated my neck and just sat there thinking and praying for a good hour.

I started to realize something.  All that pain and discouragement and difficulty that I've gone through this past week was actually an answer to prayer.  I'd asked to see my weakness as a gift.  So God gave me situations where I was helpless.  God gave me situations where I was weak.

That wasn't what I prayed for--or was it?  I was asking God to reveal His strength through my weakness.  And I meant further on down the road when I hopefully have some big things accomplished because He has given me the grace to accomplish them.  But the thing I'm learning about God is that He doesn't have the tunnel vision we do.  I see the things I want eventually, the glorious things I think God could do in me that will reveal His glory in some big and huge and important way.  

But God sees the whole picture.  And I don't know what He's going to do a year or five years or ten years down the road.  I only know what He's done in the past--things that give me a lot of very solid reasons to trust Him, and I only know what's happening right now.  And right now He's doing something.  He's answering me in a way I didn't expect.  He's giving me situations that are difficult for me, that make realize how weak and needy I am.

To be honest, part of me wants to hide away from everyone in the world right now, lick my wounds, just wallow in how everything is just completely out of my control.  But...but God has chosen the weak to shame the strong. 

So maybe I don't emotionally feel like getting up and leaving the house and going to work, but I'm going to.  And what's more, I'm going with an attitude adjustment.  Because God's given me all these abilities to work, to live, to be.  He's given me amazing friends who help me out (even when I want to be too prideful to accept their help--that's a lesson all in itself!).  And it doesn't matter if I'm wounded or weak or foolish.  It's not about what I'm not.  It's about who He is, and about what He's doing in me.  

And I don't know if anyone will see this and be encouraged.  I don't know if anyone will see this and come away from it with a more glorious picture of who God is.  But I step out in faith that He's going to receive glory even through my weaknesses.  I can't boast in anything except for Him.  So I'm going to boast in Him.

So, yeah, I'm thankful for even this weakness, the weakness I wasn't expecting.  I pray He'll also use it in ways I could never expect.  

This year's theme--Don't Be Afraid.  Phew...I never could have believed all that He would teach me, all that He is teaching me.  I'm so grateful He loves me enough to teach me, even when the lessons are hard.  He's faithful. 

I'm boasting in Him.

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