Today was the second time in the past two weeks that I have sat down to turn one of my old clothing items into a dress for my daughter. Surprisingly, I managed to create two hand-sewn dressed out of an old dress and a t-shirt. While I could make them better by re-stitching and adding to the pieces, they look quite terrible right now. Sewing has never been my thing. I have never been good at it. My straight lines are always crooked and my sizes too small. Yet I love to try again and again. I am motivated by the ability to zone out for a moment and work with my hands. Crafts, building, and drawing are therapeutic as they bring mental clarity. Yet every time I am reminded that I am much better at writing and editing on the computer.
I often wonder why I continually find myself going back to these tasks? They add zero value to my home, don’t save any money, and certainly do not create an income. There must be value outside of productivity. Mental soundness is wonderful, but I can also find that in baking or writing as long as the children are not attacking me in the moment (yeah right). The first draft of this blog went something like this:
“But when did being productive or great at something become the only reason for doing something?”
My new understanding: Would Christ want us to waste our time on something that does not bring us closer to him or draw others nearer? I felt like I was missing something important.
“I think the financial motivators feed into our greedy mindsets. In fact, if we can find joy in practicing creative thinking, even if the end result is bad, there is incredible value in our mental and emotional state. We give ourselves freedom for creative thinking and the blessing to try something we will likely fail. Then we can use this creative perspective to free others to do the same.”
True. The creative thinking is a practical byproduct of trying new things, but that still seemed shallow in comparison to the failure I have felt in the past. Then I looked for the scripture expressing how our weaknesses can become strengths. The text was different than I remembered.
8 Three times I begged the Lord to make this suffering go away.
9 But he replied, “My kindness is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” So if Christ keeps giving me his power, I will gladly brag about how weak I am.
10 Yes, I am glad to be weak or insulted or mistreated or to have troubles and sufferings, if it is for Christ. Because when I am weak, I am strong.
Manipulating or Kind
Do I seek God’s kindness when I am weak? Let His power move when mine cannot? Brag about my weaknesses so that Christ can show His power? Do I give this piece of my life to Christ too, or am I holding on to it? What sick kind of person would hold on to that weakness and bury it, or worse, try to neutralize it by pretending it has value it does not?
Me. I am that twisted. Maybe we are all a little mad here. We try so hard to find power by hiding our weakness or manipulating others into thinking it is a strength. Like in an interview when I would say “my biggest weakness is my perfectionism.” How true God has shown that statement as his kindness guides me into a deeper understanding of my brokenness. Brokenness that only He can save. Instead, He begs me to run to Him so I can gain power by showing my weaknesses.
For better context, I read the verses before the one I was searching for.
6 Yet even if I did brag, I would not be foolish. I would simply be speaking the truth. But I will try not to say too much. That way, none of you will think more highly of me than you should because of what you have seen me do and say.
7 Of course, I am now referring to the wonderful things I saw. One of Satan’s angels was sent to make me suffer terribly, so that I would not feel too proud.[b]
This is the very thing that makes Christ so crucial to our lives. Every time we see weakness, or the world sees weakness in us, we need to look to Christ for understanding. Unlike Paul, the writer of 2 Corinthians, I do not have demons tormenting me. I have met others who have seen demons around them and felt that overwhelming sense of weakness. My personal experience is in my own sinful body. Since graduating high school, I seem to slowly lose my health each year. Meeting intense hormonal changes, anti-anxiety medication withdrawals, intense back pain, and panic attacks as each week brings something different. I, too, have begged God to remove these chains from my body. To make me whole again, to find healing that everybody keeps telling me about. But here I am, still weak. And still being pushed back every time I try to make progress.
You see, my expectations as of six years ago included landing a great job that supported my family enough that my husband could stay at home with the kids. I was highly motivated, and it was not a stretch for me to really thrive in a business environment. Most people would claim their early 20’s as a blissfully healthy age. I expected the same. Then my back started aching with intense pains my sophomore year of college (and my first year of marriage). I would not find out what was wrong for four years. Now I know my last vertebrae is in two pieces as the inside and outside never fully fused together. I went through excruciating pain during both my pregnancies as each baby pushed against these fragile bones causing tears and over-stretched ligaments. Again, I cried, “please take this away!” and again, the answer was “no.”
I continue to go through many doctor appointments with hopes of healing, but my health struggles (Hypothyroidism, Mental Illness, and back pain) are life-long problems. Unless God decides to heal me entirely, these problems will never go away. Trust me, if I am healed, I would be shouting it from the rooftops.
Instead, I have gained understanding of chronic illness and pain. I can deeply empathize with others who are experiencing it. My scattered mind and fatigued days are relatable. Somehow, God has started to show my weaknesses as his strengths. Kindness reigns supreme instead of my manipulation or bitterness against my weaknesses. I only need to remind myself, every day and every moment, of the power to be found in kindness. To let go of my standards and allow the freedom of kindness to overcome me and my weakness.
I encourage you to tell others what makes you weak. Nay, brag about what makes you weak. There you will find God’s power coursing through your life.
If you would like to read more about power, click below to buy Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power by Andy Crouch. If you use my link I will receive a small percentage at no extra cost to you. It can be an intense read, but it is so worth it!