One phrase that the Holy Spirit has shown me tumbles from my lips repeatedly is, "I never want to be like one of those women who...but..." After the "but" tends to be an area where I'm struggling with fear or insecurity. See, in my mind, I am strong and filled with enough Bible truth that, essentially, I know better than those things. I know better than to fear because God is in control. I need not worry about, say, lackluster breast milk production because I'm not a weak woman who freaks out and feels horrible about herself in that situation because, again, I know better than to be so fragile. But if I am having a hard time with those things I sure don't want to be lumped in with every other woman [read: all!] who every struggles in those areas.
[As an aside that I must acknowledge though not pursue, for brevity's sake: what ugly pride in thinking myself better than basically every other woman. It's not that I don't want to be "one of those woman" so much as I want to deny that I myself am a woman, prone to the same struggles that plague essentially all other women.]
|This image is not evidence of condemnation.|
Nothing has done so much to have "those women" come out of my mouth than becoming a mother. The fact that Roger frequently does not sleep well and I'm worried about him. That someone else's baby his age is doing someone developmentally that he isn't and now I think I must be failing as a mother because he's not there yet (never mind the fact that the other baby is performing said feat 2 months early). That I am struggling to lose weight post-baby, as so many other women do. That I don't have enough milk to exclusively breastfeed him no matter what I do and I feel like my body is failing me and that somehow I am not a good mother to Roger because of it. I try to say that I find grace in learning through all of those (and countless other) circumstances, but often I am trying so hard to not be one of "those women" that I don't actually find the grace in being weak.
A passage from scripture that is engraved on my heart is II Corinthians 12:9-10:
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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Whether or not I think I'm weak, I sure am. I am weak, Christ is strong. The opposite is also true: when I think I am strong, I live as though Christ is weak and my perception becomes my reality. Christ isn't actually weak, but I do quench the Holy Spirit and live as though Christ's strength is not available to me.
The truth is that I am desperately weak and I can rejoice in that. It's heartbreaking to see my sweet baby be grouchy and "off" because he's not sleeping. Not being able to exclusively breastfeed him, to have a body that simply doesn't produce enough food to nourish my son and give him what he needs in the afternoons and evenings despite limitless work on my part has wounded me in a way that I could not have anticipated. Finding grace in being able to feed my baby with formula when every bottle I make accuses me of being a failure has been excruciating. Finding myself back in a place of going to food for comfort and paying the price with my body is frustrating and, simply put, makes me feel like crap on a plethora of levels. I can try to convince myself that I know better and am above my weakness, but all that does is rob me of the joy of my precious savior who not only meets me in my weakness with his strength but who also applies healing salve to the oozing wounds in my heart.
Lord Jesus teach me the humility to embrace what it means to be a woman. Free my heart from the bondage of trying to be strong. Break the enslaving chains that convince me being a woman who struggles with fear and control makes me "bad." Forgive my pride that has tried to evade these struggles in an attempt to think myself higher than I ought, better than other women. Make me softhearted and vulnerable in a way that gives you the glory that is rightfully yours, that points other women to your face and drives them to their knees in worship of you. Holy Spirit, thank you for revealing my sin, for the grace to find forgiveness, and for the mercy of allowing repentance. You are good and worthy of worship, and it is an honor to be your daughter, to be a woman, including all that entails. Teach me to fear only you and to surrender to your steadfast love and limitless grace.
And Jesus, thank you that I am one of "those women," one who is weak and desperate for you. Thank you that your strength is made perfect in my weakness and for the continued grace to find forgiveness when I believe the lie that I am strong or need to try to be strong. You are strong, I am weak, and living out that truth makes me free and the best possible wife to Jason, mother to Roger, friend, and daughter, that I could ever be. Praise you, Jesus, for such indescribable grace!