Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Strong Enough to Break

I love my friend Joan.
"Joanie" I like to call her.
She is the perfect mix of wry humor and genuine, soulful depth.
She is honest.
She is kind.
And Lawd Ah-mighty, does she make me LAUGH!

I saw Joanie briefly a few nights ago, hijacking her before she left to get on the freeway.  I couldn't let the opportunity pass without at least touching base for a few minutes. 
Joan said, "You know what my new favorite thing to do is?  Ask for help."
Oh, how I love her forthrightness.
She went on, "I know I'm not good at everything.  So if I have a friend who can do something I can't, I just ask, 'Can you help me with that?' It's been very liberating."

Mmmmm, the simplicity of that task.
And oh, the complexity of it as well.

I, too, in these past years have become an asker.  I never felt I could before.  I thought it conveyed weakness.  I wanted to be totally in control.  Yes, I wanted to be known as "Superwoman Cynthia." 

I foolishly thought it was working, too, until my cape got caught in a web of volunteerism and false security...
And I plummeted through the air...
X-ray vision turned toward myself, seeing with clarity my true insecurity...
Super-strength abandoning me for appalling weakness...
Tasks and commitments suddenly becoming my own personal kryptonite.

I was in the pit.

Lo and behold, how could I know that the one characteristic I had forever shunned was the very one that started me on my road to healing?
I asked for help...at every turn...
"I can't leave the house.  Can you bring dinner?"
"Can you text or email whenever you think of it so I know someone is thinking about me?"
"The children have to be driven to their after-school commitments.  Can you take them?"

Unexpectedly, I found complete and total freedom in this new way of life.  In fact, it had never registered before that time that, all of the times I had been helping others, I had been helping myself as well. 
It feels great to give.   So I asked. 
Then my circle was able to give back. 
To take care of me in my weakness. 
And the bonds of friendship with those women are forever changed. 

Thinking back on Joanie's statement and my change of heart, I read this morning's offering from Bonnie Grey on the "incourage" website.  It was entitled "Courage to Be Broken:  My Real Thanksgiving List."  She writes:

"I wanted to be strong and courageous by being competent.
I didn’t understand God could make me strong and courageous by being broken...
to understand it takes greater faith to be broken than (to be competent).
It’s what Jesus chose in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night everyone was remembering Passover and giving thanks for God’s protection from passing death.
It was the night Jesus chose not to pass death.
It was the night Jesus felt like dying –
even though He had just celebrated the Passover meal with His closest friends,
even though Jesus had given thanks, for the bread,
and even though Jesus had given thanks, for the cup.
Jesus confided –
My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.  
Stay here… With me.
I’m very sad.  It feels as if I’m dying…”
Matthew 26:37-38 (NIV, CEB)
Jesus didn’t want pain, but He wanted us more.
So, Jesus chose to be broken."

Such a beautiful lesson and one I embrace today.  This scripture passage and reflection is not encouraging us to wallow or complain or grow a bitter heart, mind you. 
Only to know that, in every season of our life, there are times when we need strength...strength beyond what we possess. 
When we have to be held up. 
When we have to be the broken in order to be strong.
Strong enough to say, "Can you help me?"
Strong enough to say, "I don't know the answer."
Strong enough to say, "I was wrong and am so sorry."
Strong enough to be vulnerable.

In this season of thanks, I'm so grateful I learned this lesson...
And strengthened my community forever.

Photo credit:  anattitudeadjustment.com, "Superwoman Fights the Blues"

1 comment:

  1. Dear Cynthia, you have touched another of my heart strings. In the past few years, I have been giving people a gift, the opportunity to give. Originally, it was a rather cynical, and personally humorous, way of looking at asking people to contribute to a scholarship or a charity. But with prayer, its taken on two serious aspects. One, I realized that it was me admitting that I cannot do things alone, I am not able to see accomplishing things that I wished I could do by myself. With that, a deeper realization came to me that the only good things "I" accomplish are done so when I ask for and receive God's aid. The other was a prayerful realization that giving people a chance to help or give was helping them become better people, to experience charity, to experience that joy that comes from truly giving, almost an evangelical moment. It's not particularly natural to look outside one's own needs. Asking people for help gives them a chance to fulfill the commandment to love one another and so grow closer to Jesus.