My Quiet Place of Strength

In God’s hand, a yielded weakness has greater power than an unyielded strength.

Because of my daily struggle with ME/CFS, I often live out my life in baby steps. Take tonight’s taco dinner, for example. Yesterday I browned and spiced the meat. This afternoon I prepped the cauliflower to steam for my “rice”. Finally this evening, I will pull it all together to serve buffet-style as a tasty meal for my family. (And they will do the dishes. Bonus!)

Managing a lifestyle around a frequently debilitating health issue requires loads of thought and planning. Absolutely everything I do comes with a trade-off. If I do “A” I cannot count on doing “B”. My life gets plotted and lived out in segments of days rather than just today. What I hope to accomplish tomorrow must get accounted for in today’s activity as well as the day following.

Can you imagine how discouraging and small my life must seem at times?

I’ve thought about this several times lately as our home has become a bedlam of activity. First came the demanding renovations, followed this past week by the stop-everything-and-pick-up-the-house-and-quickly-vacate mode of open houses and private showings, all while tackling some packing.

Or rather…Brad tackles the packing.

I rest and regenerate between activities.

We’ve discussed this–my beloved and I.

God has given to each of us our strengths and weaknesses–and then He paired us with each other in the most wonderful and remarkable of ways. My husband, thankfully, just happens to have enough energy for the both of us–God’s gift to him (and me!).

The odd thing about strengths and weakness and human behavior is that we tend to do one of two things: 1) evaluate others on their strengths while we evaluate ourselves on our weaknesses, or 2) the other way around.

I tend to view my husband through his assets (probably best for the marriage that way!). I see the energy he brings into the required busyness of renovating, selling and packing a home. And then I see myself on my comfy brown couch. He hustles and bustles. I sit. He takes care of business. I lounge.

Quite the discouraging disparity, don’t you think?

Well, I suppose it would be if God didn’t have a say in the whole thing.

But His word speaks. And, boy!, did it encourage my heart this morning! “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning (repentance) and rest you shall be saved (delivered, set free!); in quietness and in trust shall be your strength‘” (Isaiah 30:15a).

God has greatly used ME/CFS to cause me to “walk humbly before my God.” I literally can place “no confidence in the flesh.” After years of striving against what was happening to my body, I have learned to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, follow Him in quiet trust and rest in His plan to set me free (either on earth or in heaven–she said with a grin!).

This is my “in the pocket” place.

This quiet nook of a restful, trusting heart is my strength–God’s gift to me.

“I will go in the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only” (Psalm 71:16).

Barnacles of Discouragement

Yesterday was a tough one. There’s just no getting around it. I slept until after nine, took over two hours to gain enough energy to shower, and then I was “done” for the day. That’s all she wrote. Done.

Around 1:00 I retired to bed, not to sleep, but simply because I needed to rest and I was so cotton-pickin’ through with sitting on the sofa-recliner. I simply felt swallowed up in the brown-ness of it all. Hour after uncountable hour have been logged on that thing, and I couldn’t stand it one more moment. So, grabbing my phone (for solitaire–I don’t actually talk on it these days), To Kill a Mockingbird, and a tasty glass of iced tea I headed to the bedroom.

Handsome Husband and Son made it home from church around 2:30 toting a delectable bag of Chipotle goodness, so I rallied to join them for a late lunch. As hard as I tried, however, I could not stay “up.” Everything about my body longed to be vertical once again, so back to the seclusion of our room.

Seclusion. Isolation. Alone…again.

No fault to my husband or son, though. How were they to know that I wasn’t going to sleep and simply needed to lay down away from the clamor of a television-boomed football game? It wasn’t even a 49er game!

Then, try as I might, I could not stop those tears from trickling.

Thus began my cycle. Read for a chapter or two. Play solitaire. Start to think. *trickle* Read for a chapter or two. Play solitaire. Start to think. *trickle*

Brad, presuming I had chosen to doze, only checked on me when he needed to get ready to return to church for our evening service. Then, as much as he loves me and as much as he may have wanted to stay and tend to my heart, a pastor does have an obligation. This is a fact I have willingly and joyfully accepted over the years–a fact which does have its occasional inconveniences–like when a wife wants to have an unexpected emotional meltdown, for example.

Three and a half hours later he returned home to a pitiful mess of a wife. She…I mean…I was discouraged, disheartened, and a whole ton of other dis-type words. (Poor guy–probably wished he had stayed at church!) Still in our bedroom. Still unable to control those “trickles.” But by that time, I had developed a red nose and puffy eyelids–not exactly his dream girl.

Except, amazingly, I was. I was still the one he wanted to come home to–red nose, puffy eyelids and all. I was still the one he missed in a crowd of people. I was still that girl of his dreams.

We talked. We hugged. We prayed together. We remembered just how madly in love we are. And then we moved on.

Except for one little thing.

What to do with the discouragement? I was restored in my relationship with my husband. But what do do with the discouragement I had felt. Because, as much as I long for and pray for healing, I don’t have it yet. So I have to dig around for what I do have, and right at the core of discouragement is a very bold and brave word: courage. Something I very much need, but something that had become enshrouded with ugly, little life-sucking barnacles. Since barnacles cause friction, and decrease the speed of a vessel, it was time to scrape those bad-boys and get on with life.

Once we rid dis- from the port side and -ment from starboard, we are left with courage, all shined up and ready to set sail…again. Because one more time, no matter how I “feel,” I have to get up and get going. I have to face another day squarely and tackle it with every ounce of my being. I have to choose to live another day to its fullest. And isn’t that the essence of courage? Not storming castles, but storming life–barnacle free and full-steam ahead.

Before I leave I want to share with you two quotes. One from To Kill a Mockingbird, when Atticus explains to Jem the bravery of the sick and dying Mrs. Dubose, and the second from the bravest book I know: The Bible.

“Son…I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do…She was the bravest person I ever knew.”

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9