I used to never cry. In high school I would go through break ups, fail test, (insert high school drama here) and never cry.
Then I started walking with the Lord and I became a totally basket case. Now I cry a minimum of three times a week. Crying for me can be brought on by a range of things from the über-serious to, I don’t know, let’s say, The Biggest Loser or a credit card commercial. And don’t even get me started on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
But, the fascinating thing is that even now, people who don’t know me very well are surprised to find out that I am a “crier”. Micah was certainly shocked when we got married. Sure he’d seen a few very feminine tears glisten down my face during dating and engagement. But, he was not prepared for the Niagara Falls of ugly crying he would experience in marriage.
So, why is that? Why do I default to this pulled together front even though I am actually very emotional? I think it’s because I value strength. I like being strong. I like other people thinking I’m strong and powerful. Unshakeable. It makes me feel important and in control. People can’t have power over me and know my soft spots. I don’t have to be vulnerable.
And to make matters worse, somewhere along the way I decided that being strong is Christ-like and the only way to reach people. I started teaching people that “I’m strong, and you can be strong too!”
Which is….ridiculous. And definitely not the gospel. In fact, God loves our weakness.
Paul says this:
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
-2 Corinthians 12:8-10
When I am weak, then I am strong.
In our weakness He is strong. He is our power and our security.
The fact is that strength and perfection IS very God-like, but it’s not very me-like. The strength in me is God. So, why am I teaching that it is me? People don’t want to hear that. And frankly, it’s not a very good sell. I don’t think anyone’s testimony is going to be: “Well, I saw that Ashley was perfect, and I wanted to be perfect too, so I became a Christian.” Ha!
People want to hear the truth. That I am broken and a certified wreck. But, God is my hero and he came in my life and put the pieces all together. He made me whole.
So, like Paul, I want to live a life of integrity but still boast in my weaknesses. I want to show my imperfections and not be scared others will think less of me and run from the Lord.
Because the true gospel and my story is...
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. – Romans 5:6