as the new year begins, i can't help but look back on the past 12 months and all that they held for me and my little family. i find myself creating mental lists of my "highs and lows" from 2014. little snapshots that stand out - good and bad, joyful or sad - 2014 was full of moments in time that marked my life and the lives of my family. when i look at the big picture, i'm so thankful that my highlights definitely outweigh any low points from 2014. that's not to say that the past year wasn't a difficult one. for various reasons, 2014 was a hard year. emotionally, physically, mentally - there were struggles and heartaches. lessons learned and memories made. it was a good year, but it was a hard year.
there are times when i want to look back over 2014 and say, "thank God, i survived!" and Lord knows that some days, it was just about survival. if we could make it to bedtime and everyone was fed, bathed, and most importantly, breathing- then it was a successful day. there were times when simply having all three kids accounted for was my shining accomplishment of the day - ha! ;)
but if i take an honest look at those moments, every moment, really - i know that i didn't just survive, i was sustained. by the grace of God, He sustained me through every high and every low.
i was sustained.
He carried me through each high point and He lifted me through every low one. if i had to choose one word to describe the past year, i would choose "sustained".
by definition, to sustain is "to strengthen or support physically or mentally." and to that i can say, "amen, amen, and amen!" and the truth of that definition is also why i can think of no better way to describe my 2014 than "sustained by the Lord." i've never been more aware of the fact that when i am weak, He is strong. throughout the darkest times of the past year i literally felt strengthened and supported by The Lord. in the past, i've always been a bit confused by the verse that says, "His strength is made perfect in my weakness." (2 corinthians 12:9) because i would get that He's strong. I would get that He can do all things. but it was the "my weakness" that gave me pause. because who likes to admit their weaknesses? not me. definitely not me.
so i would find myself covering up those weaknesses and trying to appear strong even when i wasn't. and looking back, i can see that when i refused to admit my weaknesses, i failed to let Him display His strength.
it's like when laney fights with her legos (ha! Stick with me here, there is a point) and she gets so bent out of shape. she's screaming and crying and falling out on the floor because those little pieces of plastic just won't cooperate. after carrying on in this manner for a while, she finally stops operation freakout long enough to take a breath and she realizes that it doesn't matter how badly she wants to make her "castle" on her own, or how hard she tries to make those pieces stick, it's just not happening. so she finally gives in and does what we have constantly been telling her, "ask for help."
it's not easy to ask for help, and it's often not our first choice (at least it's not for me) but it's not so much the "asking" as it is the "admitting." when laney finally admits to herself and to us that she needs help to complete her task, then and only then is she able to build the castle that she's imagined. sometimes it's because we're physically helping her put the pieces together and other times, we're just offering encouragement and advice from the sidelines.
much like my own life- when i finally admit that i need help, and not just any help, HIS help, it's then that i can let go of the pressures of doing it all on my own, and allow Him to work through me. and every single time, He is able to do so much more than i could have ever imagined. every. single. time.
if i'm trying to build little lego houses on my own, He can take those and turn them into ice castles. :)
libbi has an easy reader bible and i love to compare my bible's translation to hers, because sometimes the easy reader version is just so simple and to the point. they don't call it the "easy reader" for nothing! i love how the easy reader translation translates isaiah 40:29, "He helps tired people be strong. He gives power to those without it."
because, oh my word…. "tired people"… those are my people. i AM "tired people!"…. physically tired from lack of sleep, mentally tired from going around and around around with a three year old, emotionally tired from caring for the every need of three other human beings, and the list goes on and on.
mind, body and soul - i've felt tired. but praise The Lord, He can take my tired self and give me strength. strength to function on just a few hours of rest. strength to keep my patience when i'm negotiating with a three-nager, strength to love, cherish, protect, and care for those around me. and all i have to do is ask. and just like when we help laney with her lego towers, He steps in to help me. sometimes it's by physically forging a path for me, and other times it's by encouraging me and speaking to my heart in ways that only He can.
when i admit that i am tired, weak, and unable to do "life" on my own, then He can display His power. if i could do everything on my own, what would i need Christ for? but i do need Him. just like the old hymn says, "i need thee, oh, i need thee. every hour i need thee…."
this past year has shown me with absolute certainty that He is all i need. His grace is more than enough for me. when i am weak, He is strong. it's okay for me to ask for help, to admit i can't do things on my own, to struggle, to cry (thank goodness, because i do cry a lot - ha!), to feel overwhelmed, or to just feel flat out tired. it's not by chance that i make it through each day or that i can feel joy in the midst of sorrow. it's no accident that my needs are provided for and my soul can find rest. it's by the grace of God that i am sustained.
"Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me."
"But the Lord said, “My grace is all you need. Only when you are weak can everything be done completely by my power.” So I will gladly boast about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can stay in me." 2 Corinthians 12:9