I got a journaling Bible last month.
It’s not a huge deal… I just wanted to try a new way to interact creatively (and, more importantly, slowly) with the Word. It’s been good for me, though I’ve only done a couple entries.
The other day, I decided I was going to do 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:
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.
This verse is important to me. I mean, my blog is named “grace enough” because I really do believe that his grace is all I need. There’s always just enough for whatever I’m dealing with, and I love that.
So I got my stuff out. I prepped the page, let the gesso dry, traced some flowers and filled them in. I masked some stuff off and tried out the pigment spray I have.
Then Lilly woke up.
I got her, nursed her, then looked up and saw a certain spunky 5-year-old looking a little bit sly and a little bit guilty in the general vicinity of my open (drying) Bible.
She had taken a big, fat marker (black, obviously) and colored a big portion of the facing page and some of the page I had been working on.
I lost my ever-loving mind.
What? WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS? This is why we can’t have nice things! Everything I create gets destroyed! I wasn’t even DONE!
You guys, it was bad. My 6-year-old mini-me kept talking to me in soothing tones: “Mama, it’ll be okay. Just take some slow breaths. Slooooooow breaths. [She demonstrates.] Just settle. It’ll be oooooookaaaaaaay.”
The only thing I can say in my own defense is that I did not throw or break anything.
Surely that counts for something, right? Because I sure wanted to.
Katherine ran and hid. I spent the next 20 minutes adding terror to my rage as I ran throughout the house and yard yelling her name. (I found her on another pass through her room—just one last check before I loaded the other three into the van to search the neighborhood. She timidly whispered, “I though maybe you could use some time to cool down…”)
After all of the anger and all of the fear, I took ALL of my shame to my bedroom and threw myself on my bed, sobbing like the Disney princess I think I am.
“My grace is all you need.”
“My power works best in weakness.” (Or, depending on your translation, “My power is made perfect” or “made greatest.”)
My entire life, I’ve read this and assumed it meant that, in our weakness, He shores us up and enables us to do what we couldn’t on our own. He does work this way in a lot of cases, both biblically and experientially, but this week I’ve been rethinking that as the only way His power is perfected in weakness.
Contextually, the weakness that Paul was begging to have removed was likely a physical difficulty, and God did not remove it. Now, of course I think the passage is more than historical account of Paul’s conversation with Jesus; we learn something about the nature of God’s heart and interaction with us as well, and provision of strength for non-physical weakness certainly falls within that, but I feel like, in my narrow, self-focused read of the passage, I missed some important possibilities.
I really wanted it to mean what I thought it did. I mean, that would be awesome, right? Any weakness I have, God compensates for… so that I don’t actually have to live with the weakness. Total win.
But perhaps, like Paul’s, my weakness is serving a purpose? Perhaps God doesn’t always want to show His power by rescuing me from my weakness. (That seems really obvious as I type it.)
Now, there’s no excuse for sin here, and there was plenty of that. My response was anything but Christlike. But the weakness—in this case mostly insecurity and a lack of emotional margin—that may have a purpose, and God likely has a reason for not rescuing me from it.
Katherine and I are okay. Apologies were made all around, and she and Jenna both got another chance to see Mama is a looooong way from perfect. Shoot, my Bible is even fine- I fixed the part of my picture that she colored on, and the black spots on the opposite page will serve quite nicely as a reminder and an illustration for me.
My weaknesses are many.
Sometimes He shores them up; sometimes He lovingly reminds me that, even in my weakness, His grace is enough.
The rest of that verse?
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
This is me, boasting about my weaknesses. I’m more chagrined than glad, but boasting nonetheless.