Monday, July 9, 2012

My Weakness/His Strength #2: 'Twas Grace That Showed My Heart Its Need

My husband and I worked in a nursing home while we were in college. 

Doris & Emily
We were partners in the job and in ministry to the elderly people in that home. It was a tough job, but I loved it.  When one of us discovered a resident that needed an extra listening ear or a prayer, the other would double up on the “real” jobs so that could get done. It was in that nursing home that we met Agnes, dear Agnes, who taught us Luther’s evening prayer as we read her devotions to her at night:

Josh & "Grandma" Agnes doing nightly devotions
A young girl in my strength, I bounced around that nursing home meeting all the needs that I could. I loved working with my husband in this way. 

I love being the need-meeter.

But I don't always get to be the need-meeter:
"When we moved to our new home, I had my eyes open for programs that needed starting, for old people who needed visiting, and for children who needed baby-sitting. Sure, I had a few kids myself, but I expected life to be a little easier after the move because I no longer had to work outside the home. Just let me know where you want me to focus my energies, Lord, and I’m ready."
(Weak and Loved.)

That time, he did not send me programs and jobs. He did not send me a fulfilling niche and an eager group of people to serve with my abundant talents and health.

Instead, trials.
We moved. 
We found out we were expecting baby #5. 
Then, seizures.

I found myself flattened.
Not need-meeting.
Instead, needy.

And I hated it.
Why? Because suffering hurts. 
It hurt my heart, and it hurt my pride.

Need: to be expected in other people. Forgivable. Part of being human. Nothing to be ashamed of. I’d be happy to help you with that, in fact.
But need in me? It can’t be! I must be doing something wrong! I must hide it, must toughen up, must get over it!
I should be above this!
(And there, right there, you see my ugly double standard and my pride.)

I want to be strong. I want to look strong.
But I was flattened by grief, flattened by the enormity of the trial, flattened by my own inability, and my own lack of love.

I had been running around thinking, "God loves the needy, and I do too! Aren't we a great team?!"
But it was there, flat on my face in a puddle of need, that I learned:

He loves the needy, including me.

Aggie’s sickness was not the first time I learned this. I learned it as a child. I learned it when I got married, and discovered a new layer of selfishness in my love for my husband. I learned it when I had my first baby. I learned it when my husband went to Iraq and I was a blubbering mess.

I’ll probably have to learn it again.
I am so glad my Lord is a patient teacher.


Do you tolerate need in others but not in yourself?
Does suffering hurt your heart AND your pride?
Have you ever been flattened?

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My Weakness/His Strength Part 1: Grace Frees Me

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  1. amazing post.
    Yes, I tolerate need in others, but not myself. I love serving others. I love when I can help them. However, when I'm asked "Do you need anything?" the answer is always, "No, I'm good!"

    Oh to be humble enough to accept help. Definitely something to work on.

    1. Yes. To be humble enough before there is no other choice! :) Praying "God humble me" seems... pretty dangerous!

  2. I always want to serve and help others, but it is often hard to be the one who needs served or helped. It is a double standard. I am so thankful he is patient with my stubborn pride.

    1. It is a double standard. That's hard to accept, isn't it?! I say things like, "Of course you need _____, you're human!" and then I go around acting like I don't need whatever-it-is myself! So what, it's me and God saving the world?! OK self, you need to get over yourself!

  3. God is currently in the process of breaking my heart for what His heart beats for. I am way more selfish than I care to admit, however. Thanking God for grace. Beautiful truth here, written.

    1. "I want my heart to break for what breaks his heart." I think I read something to that effect from Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis- have you read that?

      Yes this is hard. We don't want our hearts broken, we want to pursue happiness! But then again, happiness is not to be found merely in this place!
      Thanks for the comment Michele!

  4. I have so been called to awareness right now of my pride issues, so this is such a timely post. So true, and thanks for sharing.

    1. It's pretty uncomfortable isn't it? UGH.
      I am so proud of the way I have worked through my pride though.
      Yep, we're works in progress. So glad He is patient!

  5. I resonate here, as one who is in that "needy" spot now. My prayer? To one day be the one to pay it forward. One of my greatest blessings right now? That we are surrounded by so many wonderful, loving and caring people who will help pull us through this time of uncertainty. Baby #2 is due any day now. Nerves and anxieties are high in me - and to me, that feels sinful, that I'm not trusting God more. We live in yet another rootless place (husband's job moves us around a lot), a place to which I feel no connection. I am homesick, but for where? For what, exactly? The Rocky Mountains where I grew up? The Midwest, where I have spent the past 10 years (until our most recent move to CA?). I recently read in Max Lucado's Fear Not devotional book that focusing on our fear starves our faith. Likewise, however, focusing on our faith starves our fear. I am clinging to that now, choosing to focus on faith rather than fear, on our many blessings rather than the uncertainties that stretch out before us. Life is so much about attitude, and if we let Him, He can keep us strong.

    Thank you for sharing this post.

    1. Kate, you will be the one to pay it forward someday, and when you do you will know even more what a blessing it is to be the helper to a tired mom who needs it.

      I hate the unsettled feeling of being between homes, or homeless. I want to tell you to rest in God, He is your home... which is true enough but also we are homesick for Him too in this place, and that is going to be the case as long as we are in this life.

      You are right not to focus on your fear. (I'm talking to myself and you here...) focus on God, and His love and faithfulness, despite our fear and in our mess and need, His unshakable unmovable love and grace, His promises that are solid like a rock.

      Prayers for you kate.


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