What is true strength?

As I finish up my final weeks in the Foundations for Counseling Ministry, I’m realizing that I’m not growing into the woman I thought I would. I thought I would come out the other side as a strong, free, and perfect woman of God. There is partial truth in that statement. More free in Christ than before? Definitely yes. Strong? Also yes, but in a totally different way than what I imagined. And perfect, no – I never will be.

So how does being strong and powerful look different than what I thought? Well this may sound silly, but the image that keeps popping in my head was of an intimidating business lady with a tough veneer, more clever than the next person, and without any signs of weakness.

But God has been humbling me so much over the past year, and I am now getting to this point where I really am utterly dependent on Him. So many weaknesses have been uncovered in my life that I can’t help but see myself as this little girl who, for the most part, doesn’t have a clue in comparison to God’s infinite perspective into me. He knows me more than I know myself!

And I’m NOT discrediting my strengths, I have a lot of them and plan to keep using them for God’s glory and my enjoyment. But I would be a fool to think that my strengths and talents define my value. I have valued myself this way in the past, and it’s only put me in a perpetual state of insecurity. 

So how does my new strength actually look if it’s not tough and without weakness? 

It’s so counter-intuitive, but it’s God’s truth! To be strong and powerful means to know that we are weak, and that God’s grace is sufficient (2 Cor 12:9). I love this about God! He’s so opposite of how the world (or I) sometimes think!

Honestly, I would love to just draw from my own natural giftings to get through life and ignore the places where I am weak because I’m too afraid to confront them. But there are such severe consequences to this type of thinking! I am too weak in my human nature to ever know my own potential in Christ without God revealing it to me. God has a destiny prepared for me, and I can only walk in everything He wants to bless me with if I am in constant relationship with Him. I need Him!

So if the only way I can fulfill all that God has for my life is by relying on Him, then it’s actually His grace alone that makes me strong! My natural giftings in business and academics are good and should not be thrown out. In fact they can be used in great ways to serve others and God. But these do not make me strong! And there are so many more good things God wants to accomplish both in me and through me, that I simply cannot without His grace.  

While I want to live my life out of excellence, I no longer want to live as a perfectionist. Perfectionism, as most of us know, is a negative thing, and yet most of us don’t realize we struggle with it. At least I didn’t. But God continually made Himself bigger in my life these past months, and revealed to me a lot of things in my life that were hidden that gave me a sober reality of who I really am. Again, this is about true humility, not the “woe-is-me” false humility crap.

Today, I am surrendering to the fact that I can’t be self-sufficient in life. I can’t keep believing that one day I’ll be perfect without any weaknesses, or times of vulnerability, and can do everything on my own without ever needing an intimate relationship with God.

But this surrender comes as a welcome relief, because trying to be perfect is exhausting. 

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