Feeding toddlers is enough to drive a person crazy. I mean it. Like, actual insanity.
You think you know what’s going on, and then they change it up on you. Sometimes their choices change within like an hour – forget changing from day to day.
Brady is almost five though, and we’re sort of able to bribe him into thinking food will make him strong. I mean, it’s not a lie. Kids are growing… they need food! So this morning, I turned around and he had picked up their little kid table in the kitchen to move it into the living room. It is not light! I won’t lie, I was impressed. He put it down and said, “Yeah! I’m strong because of all the chicken!”
Totally. It’s the chicken.
We’ve all got ideas of what strength looks like. We’re told from a young age to grow up big and strong. I bought a shirt recently because it was adorable and six dollars. On the front it says, “Strong is Beautiful.” I got it from Old Navy, which Brady calls “Ole Matey” and I never ever want that to change. People comment on it all of the time. Like, strangers in Wegmans have had actual conversations with me about women being strong, the chances in society… It’s cool, but do they see my children smacking each other in the face? Let me out of the stoooooore.
I’ve learned though, that when I work to create or convince myself of my own strength, I’m almost always disappointed. Disappointed in myself, because I couldn’t keep up and meet my own expectations. Disappointed that I’m not enough. Disappointed in others because they didn’t help me along the way. Our world has convinced us that:
YOU are strong
YOU create your own destiny
YOU get to say who you can be
These things aren’t necessarily wrong… they just don’t line up with Jesus’ idea of strength.
You know what strength looks like to Jesus?
Here’s how He tells us we will find our strength:
When I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:9-10)
When I wait for the Lord, He’ll renew my strength (Isaiah 40:31)
God’s joy is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10)
What does true strength require of me?
Nothing but 100% reliance on the One who’s strength is made perfect when I am weak. Which is…all of the time.
The more I push and work and stress about proving to myself and others that I am strong and steady, the more I find that it just isn’t true. Not on my own, anyway.
The truth is that my strength isn’t found in my independence.
My strength lies in my surrender.
We are strongest when we admit to others, ourselves, and to God that we are not enough. And when we accept that God has never asked us to be strong. He has only asked us to let Him be strong for us.
What you are going through is hard. What you have been through is hard. It makes no difference whether I know what it is or not; you know.
Whether you’re facing heartbreak, loneliness, exhaustion, stress, confusion, loss, doubt, or any kind of pain at all, our God is not indifferent to your pain. He is not offended when you hurt, and He is certainly not disappointed when you fail to keep it together. He didn’t create you to keep it together. He created you to need Him. Jesus, the author and the finisher. The One who started your story and the One who will complete it.
I would be willing to bet that the strongest people you know have probably experienced the most. And their strength most likely looks like:
Putting one foot in front of the other
Loving others when the world says they should be selfish
Smiling, laughing when it doesn’t make sense
Seeking help from others
Peace that no one understands
Strength isn’t big and loud and full of muscle. It isn’t tough and mean. It’s quiet moments. It’s choices. It’s one decision after another to choose to worship God when your circumstances don’t line up with what you know. It’s praying when you have doubts. And it’s allowing God to be God.
Where are you working to prove your strength? Are you trying to convince those around that you can make it on your own? Or that you’re bigger than whatever thing is in front of you? Or if you’re like me, I want to prove somehow to myself and to God that I am strong. That I am enough and that He could trust me and be proud of me. When the reality is, I could never earn either of those. God’s trust and pride in me comes only through His grace.
Don’t buy into the lie that admitting your shortcomings makes you a failure. Acknowledging your need and relying on God is the only way to grasp true, unending strength. Isn’t that so much less pressure? To look at the situations in front of you and say, “I can’t do any of this on my own.”
I believe God waits for those moments. When we finally allow Him to step in and love us the way He intended. To protect us, grow us, and lift us up to places we never could have reached on our own.
So… what are you waiting for?