Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
I’ve found that a lot of conversation can happen in a kitchen. Working in a cafe/coffee shop, I spend quite a bit of time cooking and washing dishes behind the scenes with a handful of other women, and, as people in general (and young women in particular) are bound to do, we are often found talking about what’s going on in our lives. Our hobbies, our activities, our stories and our dreams.
I’ve shared most of my story with most of these ladies: missionary kid, passionate about Jesus, rocky home life, spent some time in a foster-type situation, went to Bible school, world traveler, and aspiring missionary church planter. Each time I tell my story, I can’t help but feel like there’s a disconnect. Missionary family goes through a nasty divorce, and two years later is still picking up the pieces? Young woman wants to traipse all over the world to build new relationships, but hesitates each time she interacts with her own relatives? Sometimes I can see these questions reflected in my listeners’ eyes as I tell my story, and, honestly, it makes me feel ashamed. I feel like we should have it all together. We should be perfect, be healthy, be happy, be whole. I should be the perfect daughter and have the perfect relationships with everyone around me. I shouldn’t be so ungodly like this. How can someone like me, coming from a situation like this, be where I am right now? It doesn’t seem logical, or right, or natural at all.
I’ve been pondering this discord inside myself from quite some time now, and just when I’d decided to let it go, I recognized the truth in that verse. My favorite verse. It’s amazing how blind I can be. “My strength works best in weakness”. I finally see that God isn’t expecting me to overcome my situation and finally look back and see how far He’s brought me. He placed me where I was (and where I am now), and allowed me to be who I was and am, because of those shameful weaknesses. Because in that brokenness, where you can’t see a way out, His rescue shines miraculously bright. Because in that hopelessness, where cyclical sin seems endless and inevitable, His true freedom sings triumphantly. Because in that dark despair, where every voice around you and inside you tells you this is all you will ever know, His Love brings new birth and a whole new life.
I realized today that I can be like Paul. I don’t have to reach some amazing point of super-saint Christian maturity to be able to say “now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me”. I just tell my story, honestly and without shame, letting others see my weakness so that they can see His work. It’s only by Jesus’ grace that I have come this far.