This is a hard post to try to write. Part of me says, "Wait until you feel better, then you can write with more clarity and insight." Another part of me says, "No, write it now while you are still climbing out of the pit." **Note we all have these feelings and experiences to some degree. What I, and many others experience, takes it to a whole different level.
I opted for plan "B"...so here goes. This is the first day that I have showered in 3 days. I only showered because I had to go get an injection into a raw, aggravated nerve in my foot to try to deaden it. It wasn't fun...in fact it was horrible...something not worth showering for.
I've mentioned, before, my battles with OCD (anxiety disorder) and depression. By God's grace, I usually do pretty well, but for the past few days I have been wracked with anxiety and panic attacks to the point of hyperventilating. I've been curled up in a ball in my bed most of the time, crying and calling out the name of Jesus to rescue me. My hand clings to a picture that is crinkled and worn over the years. Some of my medicine makes me sleepy. Sleep, the only respite from the agony that goes on in my mind. Oh what I would give to have a switch that shuts off the repeated obsessions in my mind. Round and round they go whipping my mind into a frenzy. It really is a heinous and insidious illness.
I feel oh so weak and not enough. I feel like you could grab any old stranger off the street, plunk them into my life, and they would do a better job at it than I am doing. The dirty dishes are stacked in the sink; no lunches were packed and no dinners were made; errands and runs to the grocery store and pharmacy didn't happen; calls, emails, and texts have been ignored; there have been no dog walks, no Bible study, no writing, no nothing; the carpets have dog hairballs and the dust thickens.
My husband deserves a better wife, my children a better mother, my friends a better friend, my mom a better daughter. Everyone else seems better at handling the stresses of life...but me, I come unglued at times. I even say under my breath, "I hate myself." I know deep inside I don't mean that but that's how I feel right now. I don't like what I feel inside and I don't like what I see in the mirror. I am weak, helpless and scared.
Well meaning people tell me to not think what I'm thinking, but to get out into the sunshine and see what is lovely and think about these things instead. They encourage me to be brave and be strong. If I just tried harder, had more faith, put more energy into it, I'd be able to pull myself up by my bootstraps. They love me, I know...and they want to fix "it"... and so they encourage me to be anything other than the mess I am right now. Be anything, but don't be weak and helpless.
To be perfectly honest, this hurts. If I could think happy thoughts, don't you think I would have done that by now? Do you think I enjoy this awful pit that I'm in?
What if when we feel weak and not enough, Jesus speaks a different message?
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart... (Isaiah 40:11)
I don't know much about sheep, but I know that they are weak, helpless, defenseless creatures that get themselves in jams a lot of the time. They need continual guidance and nurturing. If they get tipped over, they can't even right themselves without the help of the shepherd.
Here, Jesus is likened to the shepherd who doesn't shun or scold the lambs (the weakest of the weak). No, He gathers them in His loving arms and carries them close to his heart.
When we are weak and not enough, Jesus doesn't say, "Why can't you be as strong as that other sheep?" No, He gathers us in our weakness and holds us in the closest most intimate place we can be...close to His heart.
Under His wings you will find refuge. (Psalm 91:4)
Jesus calls us unto Himself, not to give us the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" speech. No, He calls us to come away from the maddening crowd to a place of refuge under his protective wings.
He guards and comforts the weak...He doesn't chastise them. He draws them into a place of safety and refuge.
What if feeling weak and not enough is actually a gift from God?
What if we need to need Him?
What if we need to need Him?
When we are strong, self-sufficient, and bringing our "A" game everyday, we really don't need God or Jesus. We confidently go about our day leaving the deity sitting on the sidelines watching us in all our gloriousness.
But, what if in our weakest, most helpless and not enough moments, we are drawn into the very deepest level of Jesus' love and strength?
What if we experience His love on the grandest level when we are at our weakest? Might this be the best gift we can experience?
In 2 Corinthians 11:30 Paul says, "If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness."
Why would one of the most powerful proclaimers of the gospel say a thing like that?
Perhaps he knows that "Christ's power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)
What if continually being strong and having it all together robs Christ of displaying His awesome power?
Might I be, in my weakness and not enoughness, the perfect stage for Christ's love and strength and power to be made known and glorified?
These are all questions I ponder.
I believe that is why Jesus is likened to a shepherd so many times in scripture...because He has love and compassion on us when we are weak. He is mindful of our frame...He knows we are human.
If we could be strong and in control all of the time...well we really wouldn't need Him...we wouldn't need a Savior.
Our weakness reminds us that we need saving. And that's okay!
I mentioned the crinkled and worn picture I hold in my hand on the really hard days. It's a picture of Jesus holding a tiny, weak, and helpless lamb in His strong and loving arms close to His heart. When I'm curled up in my bed, this is where I envision myself being and through that image He speaks to me.
It's okay to be weak and helpless and not enough, Bev, because I am here to hold you. My love and grace will sustain you. When you are weak, Bev, I am strong.
My many bouts with OCD and depression have brought me to a place of deep, deep dependence and reliance on Jesus. I truly don't think I'd have that relationship with Him had I not had this illness.
So the next time you feel weak and not enough...Jesus' love for you makes you more than enough. Even if you can't move out of bed and are good for nothing...He loves you in your good for nothingness.
He loves you JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE YOU and you are His creation.
You don't have to do anything, prove anything, earn anything, or strive for anything.
You, in your weakest state, is the lamb He wants to gather up and hold close to His heart...
Lord, Thank you that in our darkest times, you don't abandon us. Instead you draw near, lift us into your arms and remind us that we are Yours. Help us to remember that being weak is not a crime, but instead an opportunity for your strength and power to be demonstrated. Let me boast of my weaknesses so that You may be glorified. Only in You, am I enough. Thank you for loving me when I can't even lift my head...You lift it for me and remind me that You love me. To You be the glory and power forever, Amen.
Ps. If you or someone you know suffers from mental illness. Know that it is not a weakness of character or a lack of faith...it is an illness (not unlike cancer or diabetes). It just happens to be an illness of the brain. There IS help and hope! Through medicine, counseling, and therapy and a combination of all...there truly is hope. If you are struggling and would like me to pray for you. Please feel free to contact me.