You may have been wondering why I didn't write my usual Focus Friday last week. Well, to make a long story short, I was in a pretty dark place that day. My stress level was still extremely high with all of the demands of my new teaching job. Now, mind you, for some people the demands would be stressful, but manageable. For me, for some reason, they became unmanageable.
I don't think the students realized how uncomfortable I was, but I was stressing way too much when I wasn't at the job. It was affecting my physical, emotional, and even spiritual health. People tried to help. Gary listened, gave support and encouragement, and hoped I would feel better. Other teachers offered their help and were very supportive, but I didn't take advantage of their help soon enough. Life became a blur of work and worry. I prayed and tried to read my Bible for help, but my negative thoughts ran rampant and drowned out any comfort God tried to give me.
By Saturday, we decided that it was time to go to the hospital for more help for my depression. I had gone on some medicine the week before, but it wasn't helping yet and I was thinking some pretty scary thoughts. A stop in the emergency room and a transfer a few hours later to a hospital with an open bed brought me to the Mental Health Unit at Allen Hospital in Waterloo. I can't say enough good things about the staff there - they cared for me and all of their patients with the utmost respect, courtesy, and skill. I came home today and am feeling so much better about life.
So...that brings me to my focus for this week: weakness. In some ways it was weakness that landed me in the hospital. I felt too weak to handle the stress and demands. A friend sent a note that said I had done a "brave and smart thing by reaching out for help." Which is it? Was I weak or was I brave? Could it possibly be both? I know I am in a much better place than I was a week ago after getting some help and care. Maybe by being brave and admitting I was weak I was able to draw on some strength and experience some growth. I know I'll have to keep going back to that place of strength as I keep getting better and deal with the disappointment of letting the teaching job go.
As you can imagine, I'm still sorting all of this out. I have appreciated the prayers of so many friends and family members during this time. Keep praying. For this week, I just wanted to remind myself and all of you that weakness is not always a bad thing. It can show us what our limits are. It can teach us about ourselves and others. It can knock down our walls of pride and teach us to reach out for help.
Another friend from church wrote out some verses for me and I kept them on my bedside table at the hospital. The one that helped the most was this:
My STRENGTH is made perfect in WEAKNESS
2 Corinthians 12:9 (That's the way she wrote it on the card)
And on the back she printed the entire verse:
Each time he said, "No. But I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people." Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am; I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ's power, instead of showing off my own power and abilities. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Isn't that a beautiful reminder? We don't have to be perfect. We just have to be faithful and people will see Christ's power in us...even when we are very weak.
I think I'll end with that. I have so much more to say, but it will have to wait for another Friday.
Do you ever feel weak? Do you accept that about yourself and see how it can show God's strength or do you fight it and deny that weakness? How can focusing on God help you to "boast" about how weak you really are?