But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)
I hated watching him struggle. Spelling words came home every Monday and every week he struggled to learn how the letters correctly fit together to make the words he needed to spell on the exam looming ahead on Friday. The practice started on Monday- along with the frustration. As the week progressed, the practice paired with frustration carved furrowed lines into his forehead. Right one time. Wrong the next. Over and over. Evening after evening. The painstakingly hard work he put in all week didn't always produce the parental pride of a perfect score on Friday. He struggled. He tried. He passed. He failed. I watched. I quizzed. I prayed. I cried. "Please God, help him. Make it easier for him. Why does it have to be so hard for him?!"
One of the most difficult things in life is to watch your children struggle. As parents, especially mothers, we want our children to have a pain free path in life. We want to "kiss" the boo boos and make the hurt places better. We want them to do well in school, make friends easily, and to excel in sports or music. We want to protect them. It pierces our heart and wounds our soul when they encounter moments when they "can't" do it. And if we are truly honest, we find a sense of pride in the honor certificates, first place trophies, gifted labels, and all-star teams. We see the weaknesses and struggles as something we need to fix for our kids.
I pleaded with God, just like Paul did, that the struggles my child faced would be removed. I asked that life wouldn't be so hard. But, God didn't change things. Why not? The apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 sheds some light on the reasons why God doesn't always fix things for us. In these verses, Paul proclaims that weakness is a strength and struggles serve a purpose. Paul tells us that God uses struggles to keep us dependent on Him. It is through our broken places that God's presence and power are revealed. God knows that we need to reach a place of "I can't" before He can. We have to become malleable before he can use us. Just like hardened Play-doh needs water to become moist and pliable again, we need struggles to soften our hearts and check our conceit. My deepest moments of prayer have come not when things are going well, but when I have been helpless to heal the heartache of my children. Do I wish things could be easier for them? Sure I do. As much as I want to wrap them up in emotional bubble wrap to protect them, I know that shielding them from personal pain will only keep them from experiencing the power of God in their life. Just like Paul, I need to shift the way I see the struggles I face in life. Instead of seeing hardships as an enemy out to destroy me and mine, I need to see them as couriers sent by God to bring us into a closer relationship with him.
I wish I could say school became easier for my child, but it didn't. But I can say, he graduated from high school, is attending college and most importantly he is walking with God.
What struggles do you face? What circumstances are you fighting to fix? What do you need to yield to God in order for Him to make you pliable?
Take our broken, weak, struggling places and make them strong. Give us wisdom with our children. Show us how to walk beside them through their struggles. Give us wisdom to know when we should intervene and when we should not. May your power be perfected in our weakness.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.