Our Culture Preaches Personal Strength, But What Happens for Those Who Cannot Possess It?
The world is telling us like never before to trust in ourselves. Shirts say, “I can rescue myself.” We talk non-stop about personal empowerment. In the little girl’s section at a store today, I saw several designs stating something like: “Work hard, and follow your dreams.” I have no problem with a message of not waiting for your handsome prince to come and give you permission to start your life. I see these messages stepping away from that aged concept, but what happens when you do work hard, and strive to do your best to “make your dreams come true,” but then suddenly, for whatever reason, you are no longer capable?
My body has been going through something crazy- even scary at times. Sometimes, the symptoms are so much that I have to cancel work appointments, social events, and stay home. Sometimes, I have to leave the store without all the things I needed, or even pull my car over on the highway. Sometimes I HAVE TO rest, even when I have a mind full of things I need and want to do. If I exercise, which I love to do, it may take me out for the entire next day. I am being referred to specialists I never dreamed I’d need to see at my age. There are times I have to wait for help from my “man” to do the things I need to do.
I am going through a season where I am neither strong, nor highly capable (in fact, I am weak). I do not possess the power I need to function the way I want to. And I have worked hard, and followed plenty of personal goals. But that isn’t resulting in a huge sense of self empowerment right now.
As a therapist, I see plenty of people who work extremely hard, only to see their dreams crushed. Dreams of finding the right partner, or job, or house, etc. I see people grieving that they can’t have a baby, or over the divorce they never expected. I work in the world of reality. And I see a lot of reality checks both personally and clinically. I see a lot of people feeling terribly troubled by their sense of powerlessness. They fought their best fights with their best weapons, and they are left still feeling helpless.
So what do we do when we don’t have the emotional strength or physical power we are fighting to possess? What do we do when we no longer have answers at our fingertips. When we quite literally can’t “Google” the answers.
With this weird season for me physically, I am left feeling that things are not in my control—and boy, do I love control. I want to manage everything. I’ve cried, I’ve gotten angry, I’ve stayed in bed for too many hours at times. And as I speak to God about it, about my powerlessness, I have come to the conclusion that I must surrender control. I must ask God to forgive me for believing I could do it on my own, or that I have all the answers. I can’t Google my way out of this one. I can pray as I can continue to work with my doctor, see my therapist, and apply what I’m being taught or told to do. And as the journey of poor health continues, I can look to Him and be reminded that I was NEVER promised control over my circumstances, I was never promised personal empowerment. This is why humanism, in my opinion, can only get us so far. I do not believe I have everything I need within me to help me. I believe I need my Father, Who made me and knows me, and sees the whole picture. This God Who has gotten me through crisis after crisis, and has shown me He is very real, and very present.
Ironically, at my daughter’s school the verse this week is Job 38:4 ““Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.”
Can a malnutritioned child with AIDS in a far away land empower himself with his own understanding, to work his way out of his circumstances? Can he use positivity to manifest the food he need so desperately to eat?
At what point is the only answer to surrender. Not to” the universe” —Can the universe hear his cries?? But to the Living God, Yahweh, Jehovah Jireh! Who historically speaks audibly to His children, and in numerous cases. very tangibly provides for them exactly what they need. I have had very real encounters with this God, doing very real things in this way for me.
He created us for relationship. Read any data on attachment theory, and it is obvious. We can do little without the support of one another. Where we can gain support of other humans, even they aren’t supermen and women. They are human too. Maybe with kind hearts, good intentions, chicken noodle soup, and political ties that can help, but they are still just as human as you. Flesh, bone and blood. Human support that is being the hands and feet of Christ is awesome, and humans who are praying for me and with me, creates the possibility for Christ’s supernatural capability to take place.
Cry out to the Living God, Who is alive and can hear you, and even respond with very real, live help! At the end of the day, I KNOW I am in Him— even in issues of life and death. He says He is the same yesterday, today and forever—He doesn’t lose strength, interest, or heart like humans can. He continually and unconditionally cares about you.
If you are struggling physically today, and you are feeling incapable—I urge you not to surrender to hopelessness, but cry out to the God who also suffered physically on the cross. Who knows what it’s like to feel powerless. Surrender to Him. Don’t fear the issue, but be in fear of His very real power. Seek Him for the answers, as you are also seeking answers from human support. As you are screaming, angry, crying, depressed, or anxious--seek Him. Scream cry, to Him!
I don’t know where my health journey will take me, and at times I am obviously scared and sad. But I have no choice but to lean on this great God, Who knows every hair I’ve lost today, and every task I haven’t been able to do in my illness. He knows how the bills will be paid, He has a plan for that. He knows which doctors I will see and what they will advise. I pray as humans come around me to support me (doctors, nurses, family, friends) God would intervene with His great wisdom. I pray that for you today too—-Hope for your journey, God’s wisdom over your doctor’s and nurses, God’s provision for the things you need today. In Jesus name!