Because I Am Weak, I Can Be Useful: Five Minute Friday

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Photo Credit: Sebastian Anthony Flickr via Compfight cc

I’ve always hated being weak. I spent most of my life as an overachiever. A lot was expected of me at a young age, and mostly appropriately so. I was encouraged in my areas of talent and ability. But it was also a lot to live up to. There is such a fine line between encouraging a child and expecting the best from him or her, and pushing them into overachiever status. I often felt like I needed to be the best, or I would lose the confidence and love of those around me. I liked being depended on by teachers, parents and church leaders. I didn’t want to disappoint. While I was continually reminded about the unconditional love of my heavenly Father, I found myself carrying over this attitude of overachievment into that part of my life as well. Of course God loved me no matter what, but just in case, I needed to make sure I was giving it my full effort; checking off all the boxes.

But of course I was only human and I couldn’t do everything, I was far from perfect. I had a very hard time taking criticism, not because I didn’t want to improve, but because in that criticism I heard my unspoken fear: you aren’t good enough, and if you don’t “fix” your issues you will become useless and unlovable. Now, those things were never overtly stated, and rarely true. But I heard them anyway.

I like to think that I have improved in this area, and in some ways I have.but it still takes continual effort to have a teachable, correctable spirit. My need to impress has kept me from taking risks because I might do it wrong and someone might notice and tell me so. Since having children, it is easy to question myself constantly. It doesn’t help that our social media culture fosters an environment where each person’s choices become public discussion fodder. Gossip has always existed, but the difference between the village rumors and the internet is that now one mom’s apparent failing becomes a public opinion discussion but without the important relationship of community closeness. When the sweet older lady who helps you wrangle your children gives you advice it’s a lot easier to take than when a stranger half way across the world criticizes you on social media. Because correction should always, whenever possible, come from a place of love and relationship.

This past year I have been learning the hard way that God can use us because of our weakness rather than in spite of it. I took on some major responsibilities last year, ones I had been praying about for a while. Then within weeks, life got very crazy. Suddenly being my usual overachieving self was no longer an option. Instead of just delegating, I was forced to really depend on those around me. It was a position of feeling out of control. This was not how I liked to function. I had been raised to be dutiful and responsible. Without meaning to, my personal mantra had become “do it well or don’t do it at all.” (Not quite the same as perfectionism, for which I am not usually plagued, but close enough to get in the way). So as I saw myself handling my public responsibilities at less than full capacity, I felt like a failure.

I vividly remember a conversation I had with God where I mentally uttered the phrase. “This is not how I wanted to do things.” My spirit was quietly reminded of verse from 2 Corinthians. (Which of course I couldn’t remember verbatim which I why I am very grateful for the internet in helping me locate the full versions of verses of which I recall only a small portion.)
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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

I realized that my weakness was not a barrier to God. If anything, he was forcing me to depend on him. When you are firing on all cylinders it is easy to give in to pride. After all, confidence in your own abilities isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when God uses me, not just despite my frailties but because of them, the credit is his alone. When the children God has given me cause me to come to the end of myself both in public and in private make me accessible and relatable to other moms, his power is being made perfect in my weakness. When we begrudgingly made peace with the idea of renting our house instead of selling it, and now we get random texts from our new tenants telling us how grateful and blessed they feel to be living in our house, his power is being made perfect in my weakness. When I realize that parenting is as much about who I am supposed to become as helping my children become who they are supposed to be, (especially when I have doubts about what either of those things will look like), his power is made perfect in my weakness.

As we look back at our lives, may we be able to say that God, in his mercy, used our weakest places and our deepest failures to do some of his greatest work.

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10 thoughts on “Because I Am Weak, I Can Be Useful: Five Minute Friday

  1. I love the idea that parenting is about who the parent needs to become, not just who the children need to become. Mine are all teens now and that was a tough lesson I needed to learn along the way. Thanks for the thoughtful comments today!

    1. I still struggle with this daily, especially when I don’t like myself as a mom, and have to stop and ask what God is trying to teach me through my children. I’m realizing that I am much more selfish than I even imagined and I’m trying to figure out how to selflessly serve my family without adopting the attitude of a martyr. It’s definitely a process.

  2. Great post, and I relate to a lot of what you say. It is very easy for our worth to become tied up in achieving certain standards and for criticism to be seen as a sign that we’re not good enough. It does take a lot of pressure off to know that God can use us even in our weakness, and that’s where we can know his strength.

  3. This is so insightful. I absolutely agree that our weaknesses as parents help us become more compassionate and relatable to other parents who might otherwise assume we have it all together. And yes, parenting is not just about who our kids become, but who we become. It’s a humbling but ultimately very worthwhile process. Thanks for your post. I am really enjoying the FMF community.

    1. Yes, the FMF community is great! Being part of this has helped me be a more disciplined writer. Because even if I haven’t managed a word of any of my works in progress, my blog has been too quiet and I feel like a complete failure as a mother that week; I try to make it my goal to just be honest and put it out there on Fridays.

    1. I think the hardest part has been realizing that God works in me best when I am weak. Thank you for stopping by and for your encouraging words.

  4. I struggle with this too, Bethany: the constant overachieving and the overcompensating, people-pleasing, self-shaming, etc. Just by writing this out, you are reframing the story and writing a new one for yourself. Your weakness is making all of us stronger! Thank you! A friend in spot #75 (hugs!)

    1. Thanks, Christina. I’m discovering I prefer being real to trying to maintain the appearance of having it all together. (Not that I was ever very good at that anyway). Still working on gracefully receiving criticism, whether it’s justified or not. I’m learning to be OK with being a work in progress too. Thanks so much for stopping by.

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