I am black. I am a woman. I have to be strong. All the time. There’s no room for vulnerability. For brokenness. “They” already see me as less than. “They” already view me through the lens of stereotypes and pre/misconceptions. So I have to beat “them” to the punch. I–all by myself–must carry the weight of the world on my back. I must anticipate their skepticism, meet it with my own and focus my energies on raising their expectations of me and those who look like me. I cannot trust anyone. Ever. Doing so only hurts. My track record is my evidence. Ambition is my friend. Success as defined by the world is my only significance. There is no room for anything else. The great love that beats wildly in my chest, demanding escape, freedom; that gentle peace that lies buried beneath the sediment of my own sins and the sins of those who’ve hurt me, the joy that yearns to burst forth and saturate my life….MUST BE EXTERMINATED. All I need to survive is my intelligence, my persistence, and a little bit of Jesus. A little bit of Jesus. Very little. In fact, just the little bit of Jesus I like. Not the “Do not worry about your life” Jesus. Nah. And certainly not that “Cast your Cares upon me and I will give you rest” Jesus. Uh-uh. I want the Jesus of my own creation. (Yikes!) Which of course, is not Him at all. And that’s fine with me too. Because I can make it on my own. I can do it. I am powerful in my own right. I can make “them” love me. I can talk my way into and out of anything. I, I, I…ROARRRR!
LIES! ALL LIES!
I’d bought the lies, my friends. Drank the Koolaid. I’d squeezed the Jesus I met at 11 years old into a tiny corner of my heart and presumed to tell Him when He was allowed to come out and play in my life. Although I used my own might and strength to push through whatever came my way and on the outside everything looked good…I still failed. I failed because I was/am weak. That’s probably not the politically correct thing to say. To admit weakness as a woman, according to some, sets us all back. I know, I know. I am supposed to empower my readers with all kinds of words that exhort and exalt what I’ve done and what you can do. But you know what? Lying in a hospital bed, unable to sleep, staring at the crummy vomit-colored walls, body broken, run into the ground with stress and pain…kind of makes things a bit clearer for a person. At the top of my blog, I proclaim my purpose here to be…to find the truth and tell it. Well here’s a truth: I was/am weak.
I was/am weak because I was/am flesh. I don’t mean skin and muscles and bones. I mean, I’d lived most of my life “all up in my feelings.” I’d often made decisions in life based SOLELY on the whims of my emotions and my will.
And boy are they deceiving!
You do know that how you feel or what you think about something DOES NOT necessarily make it true or reality?
So, in this context, my flesh was awfully weak. It’s weird. When you think about feeding something…the natural conclusion is that it will grow stronger. Yet, no matter how much I fed my flesh (fear was always a tasty treat), it was still weak. Don’t get me wrong…my flesh was certainly BIG in my life, even VERY influential. But it made me WEAK.
Because no matter how strong others perceived me to be, no matter how much impact I believed I was making in my world, no matter what I accomplished or said…my reality check was this: the strongest flesh is no match for God. When God wants to check your flesh…consider yourself checked, for sure.
I got checked.
Just as my flesh (despite all my feeding) was weak, my spirit BECAUSE I’d practically starved it death was weaker. THIS was a recipe for a complete crash and burn. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
But it was also a set-up.
“My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in [your] weakness.” – God (via 2 Cor 12:9)
Let me go back for a minute for clarity. MY spirit was certainly weak because I didn’t do the things I needed to do regularly enough to keep it strong. But THE Spirit was stronger than ever.
Why? Simply because I was weak. AND, maybe more importantly, because I was willing to acknowledge that weakness and turn to the One who could heal me completely.
It was in this place of brokenness that the little bright-eyed, brown girl from Kentucky inside me said, “Jesus, will you play with me?”
Jesus loves me, this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong.
They are weak but He is strong.
Ahh yes, surrender. A process for me, for sure. I don’t get it right most days. But I’m getting there. The truth is, I didn’t know real strength—God’s power via the Holy Spirit—until I owned my weakness. Until I stopped frontin’ like I was strong. My weakness was in all those lies up top that I secretly believed but would never say aloud. The lies said I was/am somehow defined by what I did (or didn’t do) and if I didn’t keep doing, accomplishing, I would be nothing. The root lie said, I am of no consequence or value to anyone.
“You are my workmanship, created IN JESUS, to do good works which I have prepared IN ADVANCE for you to do.” – God (via Eph 2:10)
My weakness was found in my being the captain of a ship called ‘my life’ and my–unconsciously or otherwise–DISARMING the navigation system (the Holy Spirit) given to me by the Shipmaker upon my salvation. Because of course, I knew the way to go, right? Not. And just like other rogues before me, I drove my ship right into an iceberg of physical and spiritual anguish of Titanic proportions.
I own it all. My pride. My lack of trust in God. My selfish ambition. My sin.
And I repent. I did a month ago when God showed me myself. And, even today, I ask God for forgiveness for the new ways I try to be Him…and fail.
Today, I have let Jesus out of the corner (as if). Today, He reigns big and full in my heart and mind. I still struggle. I still wrestle. He knows this about me. and loves me in spite of it. But my heart’s desire is to let Him lead me.. To rest in Him so that I can hear Him. To starve my already weak flesh and feed my spirit until it is big and present in every decision I make. Today, there is a new paradigm in my life: Because of God and God alone, I am strong. I am enough.