I had another post started, you know. It was all about how the season of life that I’m in (stay -at-home-mom, foster mom, pastor’s wife, homemaker) was a tough one for me personally, and how I’m basically feeling like a failure most days. I was going to end it on the up-swing, though, and talk about how I’m becoming better at those things (most days!) and how it’s a journey and yada yada yada. But every time I re-read my draft, I felt very discouraged. As I read back my own words about my shortcomings and lack of success, I didn’t feel that even the process of having “confessed” weaknesses out there to the world was a cathartic release. I just felt bummed and wished that I was a better person.
But then it hit me: what in the world was I doing? These labels I had applied to myself(“pastor’s wife” “foster mom,” etc.) had somehow become a measuring stick by which Icould see how successful “I really was” in each “category.” It was almost as though my life was a spreadsheet, and each of these different areas was a bar on a graph by which I was comparing myself with the epitome of each area:
- Since the very best stay-at-home-mom I know would never get irritated as easily as me, and she would never let the laundry pile up to a desperation stage, and she would have all sorts of activities planned for her children and happily make messes and play with them all day while not neglecting household duties….SINCE that is obviously the epitome of this stay-at-home-mom gig, I am obviously a failure. My bar in this area doesn’t even make it halfway up the graph….
- Since the very best pastor’s wife I know would never get her feelings hurt, would never forget a birthday or important event….
- Since the very best foster mom I know would bond immediately with her foster child, would never get frustrated, would never wonder if she’d made a mistake…
And on it went in my head. Not just one day, but every.single.day. And so yes, as I stared at the words typed out before me as I tried to tip-toe back into this realm of blogging, I felt defeated before I had even begun.
The great news, however, is that I didn’t publish that other post. The fact that you’re reading something different is proof that one thing I can do is perceive the nudge of the Spirit. The Lord brought me back to something I’ve had to be reminded of numerous times: I’m only called to be the best ME that I can be. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. I am me, Julie, doing stuff. I have fulfilled many roles in my life thus far, but it’s been ME in every role. Instead of worrying about how others might measure my aptitude in any given responsibility, I’m convinced that God is looking at my heart and my character. There’s no doubt that life will not go the way I’ve planned; there are twists and turns ahead! I may be called on to fulfill duties that I couldn’t even fathom right now. In a sense, though, it’s all irrelevant. What is vital, though, is that no matter what it is that I’m doing, I have to make sure that I’m becoming the best version of me that I can be through the power of the Holy Spirit.
My mind is drawn to the passage in 2 Corinthians 12 where Paul speaks about his “thorn in the flesh.” Scholars have theories about what this might possibly have been, but what is indisputable is the fact that Paul was given a weakness that disturbed him mightily. He begged the Lord to remove it, but God speaks this sweet assurance found in verse 9:
It’s a bit counter-intuitive to recognize that what he is saying is that the only way to experience the completing and perfecting power of Jesus is to… have a weakness. Wow. And then, in typical biblical fashion, Paul digs in deep and says that he will boast about his weakness! Who does that?! In today’s society, we are proficient in covering up our weaknesses. With filters for photographs and selective sharing of only the brightest, shiniest parts of our lives, we try our best to appear strong and like we have it all together. Man, we’re just a bunch of suckers for the devil’s lies! His oppressive whispers tell us that “other people” are more successful than we are, and that those same “other people” will only accept us if we continue a charade of dominance. Consequently, fear of their rejection drives us to refuse to do the one thing that will bring the power of Jesus rushing in: admitting our weakness.
Of course I’m not saying that we have excuses to not try or to give up! Yes, we do need to keep working and striving, but NOT without the Lord’s help and NOT in order to achieve some fictional level of perfection. No! In our various responsibilities, we work unto the Lord and not for the praise of man. (See Colossians 3:23.) We’re working for our personal progress in any given area and to ultimately just to be faithfully obedient to the Lord.
As this revelation permeates my spirit, I’m overwhelmed with the kindness of our Lord. He wants us to continue to grow and become virtuous women and men of God. But He never leaves us to this task all by ourselves. He lovingly guides us, and in any of our weak areas, He is faithful to be our strength when we go to Him.
So wherever we find ourselves in this season of life is actually of lesser consequence than who we are becoming in this season. And if it’s a time of weakness, frailty, and failure, not to worry: you’re just setting yourself up for a beautiful display of the perfecting power of Jesus Christ.