Tag Archives: the advantage of weakness

The Power of Presence

There can’t be many feelings worse than going across country to help someone and becoming the one needing help! Especially when you are the mother. But that is exactly what happened two weeks ago.

My daughter was suffering from diverticulitis and post partum both aggravated by her 7 month old adjusting to a new bed  and waking up every hour all night. So I went to help. I didn’t do much but laundry and make breakfast one morning, gaining her an hour of sleep. Oh and maybe helped her pain with a few essential oils I brought.

But as Providence would have it she had started antibiotics that day and another product designed to promote gut health, and when I fell apart she was feeling better. I arrived on Tuesday evening and by Thursday evening had some swelling in my mouth and the beginning of a “soft lock” on my jaw. By Saturday it seemed to be improving and then bam! Sunday morning the left side of my face was really swollen. By Monday I could hardly talk and canceled my  flight for the next day.

Tuesday my daughter took me, with her two toddlers, to a dentist who after an hour referred me to an oral surgeon. So my daughter took me there; and after another hour, he said I needed to be hospitalized and should go only to Chapel Hill ER because they were the only ER with an oral surgeon on call. My son-in-law met us and took me the additional 30 minutes, so she could take the little ones home.

I was so grateful, yet feeling like such a bother and so disappointed in having to go to an ER. I could see hours of waiting ahead, and I had already filled out an hour’s worth of paperwork at the first two places. And the pain in my ear and throat were growing. An abscess from a cavity hidden under a filling, caused by the plane ride?

Was I surprised! From the time we arrived at the ER in Chapel Hill to the time they had me triaged and out of pain was 15 minutes tops! It was amazing to me–especially as busy as they were! They even had my son-in-law fill out the paperwork while they were tending to me. He stayed there until they admitted me which was five hours later! They did a CT scan to see if I needed surgery. The halls were lined with people on gurneys because there were no beds.

My son-in-law called my husband on his way home and told him he needed to come–I was having emergency surgery the next day.

And he came! It was a huge inconvenience to come, but to do it making all the arrangements in a few hours was truly taxing on him. He got very little sleep that night. But he came. And Jeremy (son-in-law) picked him up at the airport and brought him to the hospital (another couple hours investment), where he slept on a hard couch and stayed with me two nights till I was released.

That was very cool. And I learned about the Advantage of Weakness. I brought that book along to edit so I was looking at those words all the time and being reminded that there was an advantage here. It was helpful to rest in weakness and allow them to take care of me. The staff was amazing. They made me feel like I was their only patient, and it brought up so much gratitude in me. Other than side-effects of medication, it was a really great experience. I have never felt so special. They didn’t feel like they were doing a job.

But the thing that has really impressed me is how powerful presence is. Yes, all of my loved ones were really inconvenienced by me, and  guilt slightly taints the “cared for” feeling. But they were all kind about it. And having my daughter do the helping because I needed it was humbling. Having someone drop work and just stay was amazing. (They even made the trip again so I would have visitors! How sweet!)

The knowledge that someone has traveled across country just so you won’t be alone was almost overwhelming. All I keep saying is “My husband came. He came!”

That was also amazing because my grandsons had been praying he would come… and God got him there. I teased them saying God knew I would be willing to suffer to get him there. And I was. But I gained so much in the “suffering.” So much recognition of value, love, and care. And also education about the important things in life. I could have easily lost mine last week–that’s what many people have told me. I never had any fear, though. Once we got to the ER, it was so obvious to me that God was in control of every detail. Peace is feeling His presence. He stayed too.

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Teachability Trumps Passion

Did you watch President Trump’s inaugural speech? It was the best speech he’s given. No, it wasn’t Obama’s beautiful farewell, an optimistic call to do the hard work of democracy, but it was strong in promise and passion for the downtrodden. I hope our new president knows what he is up against. Walking is a lot harder than talking, especially when you are bucking the system and need to carry the people with you.

Moses discovered that! He was a brilliant leader and yet he needed 40 years of time alone with God, questioning everything, to get ready. We can only pray that President Trump will recognize his need of Divine help and open himself to receiving it. I was impressed to pray for him the morning of the inauguration–the first time I’ve been impressed to pray for a president that I can remember. It is easy for a successful, strong man to run rough shod over everyone. But I am encouraged by the words of people who know him well. They say he is real and teachable.

Teachability is so under-rated. It is one of the attributes most prized by infinite wisdom, but on this planet it fights with fear. What will they think? How will I look? Will I seem weak? Will they think I’m a coward? What if they think I don’t know what I’m talking about?

On the other hand it fights with over-confidence. They don’t know what they’re talking about! These people don’t have a clue. Do I really have to listen to this? If these people weren’t so afraid of taking a risk!

This is going to be a real learning experience for the president. He is going to have to lead a group of good thinkers who are well-versed in their areas–hopefully he has had experience with taking advice and realizing that other people have more knowledge than he does. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t gotten this far without that. But he did make some pretty outlandish promises.

Humility is knowing what you don’t know. He isn’t known for that, hasn’t shown us much, but hopefully he has some. It is really just another word for teachability.

Again, I think of Moses because I’m writing about him. He is called “the meekest man on earth” but he was highly passionate. So the two do go together. I’m thinking of sub-titling this book The Advantage of Weakness, because Moses was highly skilled and very bright, but the education he most needed, the advantage God took 40 years to give him, was learning to listen to God. The most important humility is dependence on God.

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Cops and Robbers

We all get templates in childhood that we spend the next two decades refining, and we all end up pretty much in a game of cops and robbers. Opposites attract because you are looking for balance (unconsciously), so there is usually one of each in every relationship.

I’m a cop. I admit it. I think everyone ought to live according to the laws of their beings. My husband, on the other hand, is more of a robber–seeing what he can get away with–it started young in a rousing game of stealing grandpa’s hidden candy, who would then chase him swearing in Arabic. (One way to make diabetics–Grandpa was and Richard is now.) They were close, so getting away with something is accompanied by warm, fun feelings.

Good and evil all twisted up together is one of the things that makes living on this planet so difficult. When I was growing up things were very black and white, good and bad, or so I thought. Then everything  began to gray out.

My cop affinity came from not enough boundaries, which leaves a child insecure, and not feeling truly loved. My father had been the favored of nine kids in his family and had never been wrong, so he was lenient and insecure. My mother was a lenient parent because she’d had a rough, angry, non-involved father, so she was going to be different. But she was the cop for their marriage, and my dad kept thinking he could do whatever he wanted.

It takes years to see and admit which one you are, but once you do, it is easier to modify, with God helping you choose. However, the clearer you see things the more discouraging it can be. You often want to fall in a heap and weep, because the more clearly you see God, the more clearly you realize you aren’t even close to being like Him.

Nevertheless, redemption is possible. I can say that from experience. Thinking where we were this time last year (him wanting a divorce), and where we are today–there is no comparison. We are more in love with each other than ever.

Yes, there was work involved, but it was mostly just being willing to look at yourself and admit how you are. God did the work. We only had to give permission and cooperate.

My book on Exodus will come out next month; and writing that, as well as the last year of my own life, have helped me see what a great advantage it is to be aware of and admit your own weakness! I’m thinking of making the subtitle, The Advantage of Weakness. What do you think?


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