I hate feeling emotionally weak. I hate when my throat catches and my eyes well up in tears. I hate when I can’t speak because I’m trying to choke down the urge to cry. I hate when the good and godly practice of speaking truth to myself doesn’t effect the inner turmoil I feel.
I just want to pull myself together. Usually I can, sometimes I can’t.
I don’t have a bootstrap mentality when it comes to sanctification… I know I desperately rely on God to help me grow in godliness. But when it’s less about sin tendencies and more about emotional vulnerabilities, I resent losing control. I want to cry because I choose to, not because I’m too weak to hold back tears.
A hard day here and there doesn’t bother me too much. We all have them, and I’m generally able to climb out of whatever emotional pit I’ve fallen into. But over the past few months I’ve lived in a perpetual state of weakness, and I’m having to confront the fact that I can’t climb out of it on my own. This reality has been a healthy affront to my pride, and God is graciously teaching me things I wouldn’t see otherwise.
God’s Version of Strength is Different than Mine
Scripture exhorts Christians to be strong, but God’s version of strength is different than ours. We imagine that strength means our faith and convictions are deep enough to mitigate despondency and despair. We imagine that as long as we know the right theology, we can will our emotions into submission. But being strong isn’t about us and our resolve, it’s about finding strength in the Lord!
If we think we’re strong enough on our own, we’ve forgotten what we’re up against—and it’s not just flesh and blood. We need the Light of Life to drive out the darkness pressing in on us.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:10-11
Weakness Strengthens Compassion
When emotionally resilient people cease to feel so, God often stirs in us a greater compassion towards those who’ve always felt the reality of emotional weakness. We look at them with new eyes, marveling at how God’s strength shines through their broken cracks.
I truly don’t think I’d looked down on friends battling depression or other types of emotional/mental suffering, but now I find myself looking up to them and thinking, “Wow, after all these years of feeling your weakness, and you’re still pressing into Jesus to help you.” That’s a stronger testimony than the one who’s never felt urgent need at all (and I say “felt” because we all have urgent need, we’re just not always aware of it.)
Sitting in Your Weakness Allows Room for God’s Comfort
I keep thinking, “I just gotta get through this, then I’ll be ok.” But maybe ok isn’t what God’s going for. Maybe he’s allowing me to stay in the pain of weakness because He wants to be my comforter more than He wants me to be the victor.
My best friend recently asked me, “What does is look like to just sit in your weakness instead of trying to get past it?” Honestly, I’m not really sure. But I am sure of who will be sitting there with me.
If we stop frantically trying to find our way to strength, our eyes can remain focused on the Savior who holds us in our weakness.
Strength has never been about emotional resilience. Rather, it’s about the faithfulness of our almighty God. He is our sustainer when we feel utterly spent and our stronghold in times of trouble.
“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” Psalm 27:14