This post will resonate with some of you-- and some of you will totally not get it. Because some of you have being emotional and revealing your weakness down pat. But some of you will know what I am talking about and will identify with my struggles. You will know what I mean when I talk about feeling like you have to be tough all the time and never show weakness. If so, this post is for you.
Last week I was at my Momtourage group and we were sharing areas where we have "weeds" in our marriage. (We are going through Melanie Chitwood's book "What A Husband Needs From His Wife" and were answering a question she had included based on an illustration she used in the book.) I had just shared that one of the weeds in my marriage was struggling with anger against my husband for "leaving me" to travel with his new job. Just as I laid all this out there, my cell phone rang and my daughter told me that Curt was at the grocery store without his cell phone and the baby had woken up and wouldn't stop crying and would I please come home. So, I had to leave early-- just after I said all this to these ladies and without any time to share that I am really working through these things and slowly coming to terms with this new life. I hated that I left them thinking I was really struggling.
Sure enough, at church on Sunday, I had several of them come up and ask me how my week had gone and share that they had prayed for me through the week. I nodded my head and thanked them, but deep down inside me, something rebelled. I didn't like it, as crazy as that may sound. They were perceiving me as "weak." I could hear them clucking their tongues and saying to each other, "The poor dear, she just needs prayer." (Though I know they didn't do that. They don't even talk like that!) Instead, I wanted to be strong and in control.
I wanted to be the one praying, not the one receiving the prayers.
And then God reminded me. "What kind of week did you have?" He asked me as I stood in the lobby, absolutely mortified by what my flesh perceived as pity from my friends. I ran through the week in my mind-- some great things had happened, I had had a good attitude, and life had been pretty good.
Like a petulant child I mumbled, "A good one."
And He answered back, "Silly girl, your week was blessed because they prayed you through it. Rest in those prayers. Appreciate those prayers. And learn what your weakness can bring you."
I remember as a young teen watching the movie "The Outsiders." (Did anyone else have their room decorated with clips from teeny bop magazines featuring the stars of this movie? Just askin'.) I can still vividly remember a scene where Dally says, "You gotta get tough so nothing can touch you." And for some reason, that resonated with me. I was going through the pain of my parents' divorce and remarriages and I thought, yes. That's the key. Just get tough. Don't let anyone close enough to hurt you. But let me tell you that eventually, those pesky people slip in the cracks. And yes, eventually, something does touch you-- and no amount of "getting tough" can keep that from happening. Nice idea. But it totally doesn't work.
Posts like this and this show my weak spots. I am learning to be more honest about my weaknesses-- and that I don't have to always be "on top of things" and "in control of the situation." I was raised to believe this was best-- and indeed my toughness has helped me weather many of life's storms. I am thankful for my emotional fortitude-- but I am also learning that being weak is when God shows Himself strong. Going around acting like we don't struggle, don't cry, don't doubt is never giving God room to move on our behalf. It is never giving others the blessing of interceding for us. And so I am learning to honestly say some of the toughest words of my life: I need prayer. And then to rejoice in those who will pray for me instead of being ashamed of needing it.
I am learning to love my weakness and to reveal the parts of life that bring me to my knees. It is freeing, but terrifying. It is being "tough" in a most unexpected way.