Today I want to begin with a passage from 2 Corinthians 12: 8-10 in The Message translation. Paul is talking about a particularly difficult time of hardship he’s been in:
“… then He told me, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 MSG
Many of you know that my Mom recently passed away. In November 2021 the Lord impressed upon me that 2022 would be a year of “suddenlies”. I wrote a blog about it back then and have been watching this happen in 2022, starting with Mom’s passing January 1, 2022. It was her time. She was ready. There were many beautiful things that happened around this time.
But the fact remains, I’ve lost her and won’t see her again until heaven. It’s not easy to let go.
My two sisters, one sister in law and me went to Florida together about a month ago. This has been an annual trip we have taken, usually with our Mom. We were all feeling a lot. The photo in this post is at our favorite beach where we always go together. One of my sisters had the idea to release balloons in her honor there. It was an amazing experience. We spoke out our thoughts and feelings to Mom into the skies as we released the balloons, blue and yellow, her favorite colors. There were 4 balloons and as they rose higher, all 4 stayed in formation together, like a color guard honoring her departure and her entrance into heaven. Breathtaking.
Since then, I’ve experienced a lot of weakness, just feeling vulnerable much of the time. I don’t really think there’s another way to feel when a person who you’ve been attached to since before birth is suddenly gone. It feels like there’s a gaping hole in your heart. Your energy is low. You’re aware that you need to grieve, to process, to allow space and time to care for yourself. I’ve heard stories as I’ve processed with my family that I hadn’t heard before. I’ve become aware of places in my soul that need healing and have been experiencing that. I’ve sought out healing prayer and have seen a counselor and will continue that for as long as I need to.
But I can’t escape this time of weakness, even if I wanted to. I can’t just power through on my own strength. All I can do is stay connected with Jesus and my people as I sit with the discomfort. He is with me. Others who care about me are with me. Because I believe the verses of Scripture I just quoted are true, I know that in this very place of weakness God’s strength is perfected in me. As long as I stay in a place of peace and relational connection, He can come into my heart and soul and take up residence in new and more powerful ways.
It’s easy to put up barriers to this kind of vulnerability because we are uncomfortable with it. We easily feel ashamed of our weakness.
I’ve been embracing the gifts that this time of weakness is bringing me in a new way. I’m more honest and real than I ever have been. I’m less likely to just “buck up” and shift gears into a kind of strength that will leave me drained and empty. I’m able to have compassion and empathy and take the time to be focused on relationship rather than performance and results.
All this is changing my way of being, communicating and leading. Things I’ve been aware of in the past are going deeper and I’m seeing the roots of things I want to remove from my life.
My mom made a recording for all 5 of her children that we all listened to in the funeral home before the viewing. It was like the blessing of the Old Testament patriarchs on their deathbeds, speaking identity and blessing over each of their children. She said she felt like the most blessed woman in the world to have such a wonderful family. Then she spoke about each of us personally. To me she said, “Terri, you have helped to guide the family.”
It touched me deeply. I know for sure that part of my identity and calling is to help GUIDE THE FAMILY – my family of origin, my own family, the family of God, my community.
I want to do that with true maturity, not in my own strength but with the kind of strength that is perfected in weakness and vulnerability. There was a childhood way that I did this, an adult version of how I did this and now I am signing up for a more mature way to be that guide I have been called to be.
As I’ve been walking through this season, I’ve realized in a new way that Jesus lived in profound weakness every moment of every day on of his life on earth. Can you imagine? He was GOD for heaven’s sake! He limited himself to a human body and soul – knowing what he COULD do because he was God, but only doing what he saw His Father doing, allowing himself to be fully human in how he experienced life, yet without falling into sin. Wow. He lived in HUGE weakness compared to the strength He possessed.
Likewise, we possess many strengths that we can use to ”get ‘er done”. There are times when we just need to work hard and get through stuff. But the only way we can know how and when to use our strengths is the same way Jesus did.
“So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing.” John 5:19,20 NLT
So when I feel like I “should” get super busy to distract myself from what I’m feeling, take charge of a situation, or to take on an emotional/relational burden of some kind, I stop and ask, “Father what are you doing?” He may say, “Yes, go for it”, “No don’t go for it”, “Wait, go slow” or “Let’s talk about this.”
Whatever He says, that’s what I want to tune into. I believe that’s the kind of dependence and vulnerability He wants us to live in.
Love you all – glad to get back to writing again after a couple months break!