Last night was a rough night.
Last night was a strange night.
Usually I enjoy traveling. Right now I’m in Georgia. I like new places. I love a night in a nice, quiet, clean hotel. I like homemade waffles in the morning for the free continental breakfast (this particular hotel even provides peanut butter for their waffles!). I love breakfast.
But last night none of this was settling. Tried to read, to study, to settle down to sleep early. Had a good dinner with several colleagues at Olive Garden, with good conversation mostly about Hawaii. Talked to my kids who were all doing fantastic. Watched the only show I watch on TV. And still couldn’t settle.
I don’t know why, but the weight of darkness—of depression–was like a heavy blanket on me all night. I missed my crew. I missed my previous life—pre-ex-husband-arrest. I could not sense God’s presence. The air was heavy. The fear of the night, the fear of the future, the noun that is “fear” was pervasive. I felt sick of soul.
Before lying down to try to sleep, I put a status on my Facebook wall, basically asking for prayer. Maybe even pleading for it, though to use that is hard to do. The responses I received back were so encouraging. I read them and re-read them, then put on some worship music and tried to relax; to still the shaking. Those little messages helped much, but it still was a rough night. Some nights are just like that. My night ended around 4 AM when I went ahead and got up to get some work accomplished, knowing that I’d have no internet today inside our meeting building.
But one of the first things I did this morning was erase my status from last night. Not, in any way shape or form, because of the wonderful, encouraging messages I received. But I erased it because of what I, myself, had written. That I was discouraged. That I missed so much. That I wish much was different. I didn’t say it, but I was sad. Deeply so.
It’s still been a rough day. An intense day of work. A long day of work. And I’m still a bit unsettled in my mind and my soul.
But what I want to speak to is why I erased my message.
When I hit delete, I didn’t even think of it twice. I wanted my words (not the words of my friends) off of my wall. To go away. Why? Several reasons. First of all—and ugliest—is my pride. Gets me every single time. Pride and embarrassment. Embarrassment to not have it together. Even more embarrassment to have my faith and reliance on God waiver.
Another reason, probably also related to pride, is my desire to show the world how good my God is. How would that be related to pride? Think about it. There is the humble praising of God for His faithful goodness, and then there is the prideful praising of God for his goodness that, honestly, really points to the one praising and not really to God. We are all guilty of this at one time or another. I am guilty of this on occasion. So when my faith waivers and the doubts assail, it’s harder to be honest about them, because what I want to be able to say is “Look how Good God is!”. Not saying He is not good, do not read that. But I am saying that there are times when it is harder to say “Look how Good God is.”—times like last night. Times like today. Rough times, dark times.
But the third reason definitely has to do with my ugly pride. I want to be strong. It is important to me to be strong. I’m sure that for some of you, it is important to be strong, to appear strong. There is a prideful confidence that comes when someone says “Shelly, you are so strong.” And I think, “Yes, Yes I am.” But I don’t always remember that it is only through my God; through my Jesus, that I am strong. And when I forget that, I get prideful in my strength.
And then I fall.
Pride comes before a fall.
And sometimes I fall hard.
And that’s when I have to sit there, flat on the floor for a bit, until God reminds me of this:
The story of Paul. In 2nd Corinthians 12:
And his “thorn in the flesh” that was given to him to keep him “from becoming conceited….” What was this thorn? Not sure. There are plenty of theories. Does it really matter? I only share this information to provide the framework of what I really want to share tonight:
Verse 9: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. These words were spoken to Paul, by Jesus. It is His grace that is sufficient. For you. For me. Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness.” And good gracious, am I weak at times. So weak.
Paul then goes on to say: “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities (don’t you love the word “calamities”?). For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Do you hear that? Really hear that? It is when I am weak, that I really am strong. Why is this? Why is this?? How can this possibly make any sense?
I think that it may be because; when I am weak, where else do I have to go, except to the one whose power is made perfect in weakness? Where do I have to go, except to the only one who can make me strong?
My friends, many of you encourage me by telling me how strong I am. And truly I am encouraged by those words. I need to hear them. They keep me going, to an extent, on the daily grind of this life. But please know this. I am also weak. I am weak as a child. And you are too. We are all quite weak. Not in a whiny “I can’t do this life” kind of weakness, because that is not scriptural. It is not truth, though it may feel like truth sometimes. No, we are weak because when we are weak; when we allow ourselves to be weak; when we accept that for the sake of Christ we will be content with that weakness, it is then that we are strong my friends. Real Strength. Strength beyond what we ever thought was possible.
So, today, I’m wishing I had not erased my status from last night asking for prayer. I need it. I need it and you need it. We need it. Because life is hard. There are “calamities”. But we have nowhere else to go, except to our God.
So, pray for one another. Pray that in our weaknesses we will be strong. Pray that I will be strong, on this day/week in which I feel so weak and discouraged, beaten down. Because in that weakness, I will be strong. And I want to be strong, in Christ.