Our son came home on a rainy November day. Instead of a hospital room, we gathered him to us from an airport waiting area. We knelt and talked to him by the luggage carousel and bonded over dinner at Cracker Barrel.
My heart cracked with the glory of the Lord’s redemption in my life.
While my body was barren, my life wasn’t barren at all, and this child coming home was the settling of another layer of God’s incredible grace into me.
This chilly autumn day when we brought our second eight-year-old child home would forever be marked in my mind as a day of beauty. I looked at my daughter, who had come two years before, and now my son. Glory.
But it was also the beginning of the end of my strength.
This precious little boy was wounded in so many ways and his reaction was to push hard at his new family. His greatest fear was that he would wake up some morning and not have a family, so he tried his best to get it over with.
One day we were sitting on the kitchen floor, trying to get to the heart of the matter, and he finally admitted, “I know you’ll send me away when I’m bad enough.”
Eight-year-olds get into enough trouble on their own, imagine one trying to be bad.
In the weeks and months of struggling to bond with our new child, I found myself fighting off the demons of my own past and my own loss and my own brokenness. I found myself cursing the agony of this sin-filled world where attachment disorders exist.
And I found myself kneeling in the spare room through the quiet midnight hours, begging God to remake me. There was nothing strong left in me. Nothing smart or beautiful or wise or loving.
God once promised that His strength is made perfect in weakness, but it’s so easy for me to forget that truth.
My mind tells me I need to serve from strength, but it is the service from weakness that overflows and pours God’s grace into my life and the lives of those around me.
When I was at my weakest point, God began bringing people into our lives. A renter with a tragic past. A friend with a loss so deep is shattered me. A neighbor who was so poor, so needy, so hungry for life and truth and hope is made me ache. And these precious, heartbroken children, who just wanted to know if this family would keep them for real, even when they pushed as hard and as terrible as they could.
So I begged God for strength and I really thought I was failing, because I had none.
None at all. Instead, I just served from this broken, empty place. I made cups of coffee and cooked meals and offered our shower and our extra bed and wrote stories about God’s faithfulness. I helped my son redo his math page for the fifth time and gave my daughter another chance to say, “Okay, Mom” without the attitude, and I groaned at the mountains of laundry. I bit back words of anger. I cried as I told my children that I couldn’t handle one. more. thing.
And inside, I wondered if there was anything worthwhile left in me.
What surprised me were the letters and phone calls and quiet words of friends. The response to my emptiness, my weakness, was a response of hope.
I would say, “I’m not mothering well right now. I am fighting anger and frustration. I’m praying desperately, all day long, to just keep my heart right before God.”
And what I found was all these women around me looking up with hope on their faces.
Because in all of this crazy, I haven’t lost hold of Jesus. I can’t. Not after all He’s done for me. All the places He’s carried me.
So I’m weak. Incredibly, indescribably, weak. But I’m holding tight to the One who is strong.
And I’m finally realizing that serving from here, from this broken place, is the greatest service there is.
If you are feeling that you’re at your weakest right now, I want to encourage you. God can use you, right from here. In fact, I think this is place He desires most to use you from.
Serve from your emptiness, dear ones. Serve from your weakness. And watch the Father feed thousands from the pittance you have to offer.
After all, that’s what He’s always done.
Photography: JenniMarie Photography