I am weak.
I used to hate that. Who wants to be weak? Who wants to be viewed as weak?
I’ve had to be pretty independent most of my life and I refused to let anyone see me as weak. Though I would be running straight for disaster, making all the wrong decisions, I’d be punching the air on my way down just so people would be like…Man! That girl is tough!
I never went to college. I felt like if people knew that about me, they would think I was stupid…less than all the other peeps that had their degrees. I secretly felt afraid to even have conversations with certain people that I knew went to college, for fear that my “un-colleged” self would be exposed. (You can make up words like un-colleged when you didn’t go to college for all you colleged people out there).
As I put my first daughter in college, those fears were brought out in me as I became caught up in “how do parents of college kids act?” and “what if everyone on the new college campus realizes THAT WOMAN didn’t go to college? What is SHE doing here? Stupid girl alert! Get her off this campus! She doesn’t belong here!
It is crazy what flies through my mind sometimes.
I felt I never had the approval of my parents and this set me up to seek the approval of other people. When I got out on my own, it would SEEM that this was a good quality in me as it served me well in getting good jobs and becoming the best employee I could be.
I wanted to be the best friend, the best daughter, the best sister, the best wife, the best mom, just the best whatever I could be.
And I always fell short. None of it was working out.
So instead I became the best alcoholic I could be. It SEEMED like it was the only way I could cope with my failures.
Then someone told me about Jesus.
But I was still confused. Now my new goal was to be the best Christian ever!
But wait! I never went to seminary. Great…sigh…There’s that college thing again.
Well, did you know how many books/articles/seminars/classes are out there that can help me SEEM like I went to seminary? I’m on it!
Work! Work! Work!
Then one day, I find myself in a position to be on the launch team of a church plant! WHOA! God must really approve of me to allow me this opportunity! Just go with it!
Now I’m working for the church. I’m leading everything I can lead. Doing community events. Best friends with all the leaders. I am so in!
One Sunday, someone says this to me “Debbie, thank you for all you do! You really are a pillar in the church!”
A pillar? I looked it up cause it sounded good. It sounded strong. It sounded undeniably needed. Here are some of the words you see when you look them up in a thesaurus:
Tower of strength
WOW! I’m thinking to myself “what a privilege! I am honored that they would think such of me. I’ve finally made something of myself. I’m in awe of myself.”
(BIG Side note: I praise God for His mercy! Look at those definitions above. They describe God HIMSELF for crying out loud! It makes the hairs on my arms and neck stand straight up when I think of the arrogance I exuded!)
Let me tell you something. To remain a pillar takes A LOT of work. You have to keep as many people pleased as possible. You have to sacrifice your family. You start to feel very threatened that other people may try to rise and be a pillar too and I have to be the best pillar you know. If I start slipping in being a pillar, then I will just make sure I’m the best friend or worker of the other pillars. You lose sight of yourself and there is absolutely no way you have any room to be able to see or hear from Jesus. I became more concerned about what others thought of me than I cared what Jesus thought of me. I would have moments of wondering what God was thinking when he looked at me but I cared more about what people thought.
Six years later, as I stood on the stage of our church in front of the congregation, confessing adultery, those words spoken to me about being a pillar in the church came back to haunt me. Though I was confessing the act of physical adultery with my pastor, I had been committing spiritual adultery almost from the moment I said yes to Jesus.
I set out to prove myself…to prove my worth…to become the best in everyone’s eyes.
Did God warn me? Yes. Many times.
Did I listen? No.
But in that moment, when everything came to a screeching halt and the pillar I had erected came crumbling down into dust around my feet, I heard Him calling me.
I’d like to say I went running to Jesus the moment I heard Him…but that would have been too easy for me.
I ran in the opposite direction! Because the reality of what I had done and had been doing my whole life became clear to me and I was filled with shame. Acting as Adam did when he hid from the LORD as if THE LORD didn’t know where he was.
I’d like to say I handled everything right with all the people I have hurt, lied to, misled, betrayed…but I didn’t. I want to. And if given the opportunity, I will.
I’d also like to say that others handled everything right with us…but they didn’t. Some did. Others don’t even want to. And still others helped to inflict pain on me and my family.
I can’t say that doesn’t bother me anymore but I care more now about Christ’s reputation than I do my own.
It took me being broken down and having nothing to see that His GRACE and MERCY are EVERYTHING to me!
It’s not about me. It’s about HIM. I’ve worked so hard my whole life making it about me! Trying to prove that I was worth something when I felt like I was worth nothing.
I can stand firm in the face of rejection and lies and what people think of me or what they don’t think of me and know that His grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I’m learning to filter everything though the love of God. I’m learning to live loved. I’m learning to let my heartbreaking seasons grow me and not define me.
I woke up this morning and was overwhelmed with this sense of just how weak I really am but, instead of being repulsed by it…I was so thankful. I truly need Jesus for every moment of every day. I’m so thankful that He’s given me the opportunity to really get that. I pray I never forget it.