A couple of weeks ago (or was it months? I lose track of time these days), I wrote a post titled “Grace” about my story of God’s grace in my life. This is something that I have continued to think about since, and have been challenged by in new and different ways. Most recently, I’ve been learning how to give myself grace and simply rest in God’s grace.
The past few weeks I’ve been struggling with some health issues. Maybe I shouldn’t use the phrase “health issues” lest you think it’s anything really serious. It’s most likely blood-sugar related (yep, I’ll be going back to sugar free! Turns out I can’t cut sugar out of my diet completely for a month, then add it all back in…). I have a follow up appointment with my doctor next week to investigate more. My mom always told me that she thought I had some sort of blood sugar thing and I would just roll my eyes at her. Guess I should have listened, especially before I did a crazy sugar fast followed by a bit of a sugar binge. Anyway, all of that to say: I haven’t felt well lately.
It’s been hard. I have been so tired, it has felt like every ounce of energy has been zapped from me. For the past week and a half, pretty much every time Riley has napped (which is twice a day, usually for 1.5-2 hours) I have just laid in bed. I don’t even sleep most days. I just lay there, unable to move. This means I was accomplishing nothing productive. I kept feeling like I was getting behind, and not being a great wife, mom, or daughter of God. Our apartment needed to be clean, laundry needed to be done, and stuff kept piling up. I wasn’t going to the gym and our refrigerator was empty (actually it was full- of food that needed to be thrown out weeks ago, another task I was getting behind on). And I would feel guilty. Jordan and I don’t have the type of marriage where we believe it is up to the wife to do all of the cleaning and house chores, and he helps A LOT! But there was a huge part of me that felt like I was letting him down. I know he’s been stressed and busy at work and I DO stay home, so it would make sense for me to take the brunt of the house stuff on, right? Plus, I really wanted to be able to take care of him in that way. But all I could do was collapse on our mattress any time Riley was asleep.
In addition to the fatigue, I have had constant nausea and dizziness (this may be a good time to mention that I am not pregnant. I know that’s what you’re thinking 😉 But I promise I’m not. And I promise that I know I’m not). At pretty much any point in the day I feel like I just walked off of a ride at the fair called “The Dizzy Tornado.” And at times I mentally space out and cannot focus or form a thought. So that makes everything hard, including hanging out with people to have good conversation and reading. If you know me, you know that I love good conversation, and I love to read! Books, articles, blogs, but especially my Bible and things that help grow my faith in Jesus Christ. As you can imagine, this left me feeling helpless and defeated at times.
In my last “Grace” post I mentioned that I had been listening to some seminary lectures online by Steve Brown titled “Grace in the Church.” I’ve listened to them a lot lately, since I’ve had trouble reading. One thing that really stood out to me was something that Steve Brown said about his relationship with God. He talks about how he gets up at 4am everyday because he just needs coffee and Jesus to start his day. He said that when he talks to God it’s nothing fancy or super spiritual, and he said, “I tell Him things that, if I told you, you’d reject me. But He never does.” I cannot tell you how many times that statement has replayed in my head and how much freedom I’ve found in it. It was a reminder that, oh yea, I can tell God anything and everything, and whatever lies between. He already knows and He already said that I’m His regardless.
And so I did. Almost every time I laid in bed while Riley was napping, I would just talk to God. For 1.5-2 hours at a time! I would talk to Him about anything and everything, knowing that I would not be rejected, even at my worst. Prayer is usually not my strongest nor my favorite of the spiritual disciplines. But let me tell you, I started to love it! Because it was so real. And raw. And I kept feeling my need for Him and His love for me. I was feeling so… physically weak. But over and over again I would come to the refreshing reminder that it’s ok that I am weak. Physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually- it’s ok if I am weak! As a matter of fact, it’s actually good. Let me show you why (as I am learning):
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor. 12:9)
In 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about a “thorn” in his flesh that has made him weak. Scholars have long debated what the “thorn” actually was, though many think it was some sort of physical illness. Whatever the case be, I resonate with Paul. And God responds directly to his weakness. He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” As I was laying in bed I would meditate on this verse and think about what it really means. It means this: His grace is ENOUGH. I don’t have to earn it. I don’t have to clean the house, or have energy, or be a “good” wife, or even read my bible (if you’re freaking out on me based on that last statement, you may suffer with this thing called “legalism”). His grace is sufficient for me. He does what I cannot, and He gives me what I cannot give myself. Even if I were nothing but a vegetable and could not accomplish even one thing in life, He would still love me, would meet me where I am, and would use my life for His glory. Weakness is good for us, because it reminds us that we have limits, but God is limitless.
I spent time pondering what Paul must have felt. At the time, he had been accomplishing so much in his ministry. But then this “thorn” slowed him down (he thought) and prevented him from moving forward with energy and zeal. But God gave him this weakness as a gift. It may sound strange, but it was a gift to Paul in reminding him that it was God’s grace that was accomplishing all these things through Paul. I know that Paul received it as a gift, because here is what he says in verse 10:
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
He says he is content with this weakness. I too have experienced contentment in my weakness these past few weeks. It seems crazy that we can be strong when we are weak, but I get it now. My weakness has been a gift to me, because it has been in the weakness that I have really experienced God’s grace flood over me, and have been learning how to give grace to myself.
I do not have to be a good wife, good mom, and good daughter of God. I am a human wife, a human mom, and a human daughter of God. I have the right to be human. And humans have weaknesses and limitations. What a beautiful gift when we can accept it and rest in His grace.
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” -Jesus (Matt. 11:30)