There was a time when I was strong. I was confident and unflappable. I prided myself on this. Stress was handled, and obstacles that dared to hinder were overcome. I had little time (or energy) for messy emotions. Just watching some of my friends emote exhausted me.
Then I met Jesus.
Ironically, I was a Christian at the time. In fact, having been “saved” at the tender age of seven, I’d been “walking with Him” for over two decades when this encounter occurred. I did not emerge from the incident unscathed. Although some changes were visible immediately, the loss of strength happened slowly, almost imperceptively over time. I cried more, got my feelings hurt, and seemed incapable of handling the stresses I once dispatched with ease.
I knew the emotions were part of the healing that Christ was working in me. I sometimes cringed at the idea that I was now just like all the women I once thought weak, but given what it cost God and His Son to afford me that healing, my pride seemed the least I could give up in return.
But losing my self-confidence and the ability to “manage” my increasingly complex life — that was another thing entirely. I resisted and lamented this change, foisting blame anywhere I could in a frantic effort to justify my mounting inadequacies — my marriage, my kids, my new job, my age. I could not bear to face the fact that I was becoming what I feared the most … weak!
I began to cling to Jesus and the provision He promised with increasing desperation. I suddenly needed Him to do more than forgive my sins, help me decide major life choices, and extricate me from messes of my own making. It seemed that now, I needed Him just to get out of bed in the morning. It became a mystery to me how anyone could survive in this world without Christ, because I knew I couldn’t. Not because of how much He loved me or the debt I owed him, but because He was the only thing giving me the strength I needed to put one foot in front of the other, to get from one day to the next. He quite literally became the air I breathed.
And the moment I realized this, I knew that it had all been His doing. Several years earlier, still high on my mountaintop encounter with Christ, I prayed in a fit of passion that God would make me desperate for Him and become the very air I breathe. (Oh the prayers we pray and then forget!) That “noble” request on the mountaintop … was a humbling reality when walked out in the valley.
Once, during my strong years, a close friend told me that religion was for the weak, and that those who were truly strong had no need for such a crutch. I was offended, and deeply so. I didn’t need a crutch, it was simply my choice to believe in God and Jesus, His Son.
The reality is that I am weak. God has lovingly and graciously walked me backward from strength to weakness, knocking out from under me the illusions I had propped myself up with for years; artificial confidences — crutches supporting a lie. I cannot stand on my own, and I do indeed need something upon which to lean. Perhaps religion really is for the weak — for only in my weakness did I recognize the extent of my desperation and need for the person of Jesus Christ.