In light of my oh so sweaty field trip yesterday to the alligator farm with our co op, this just had to be said…
“You know she’s a sweater” I believe those were the exact words uttered by my father across the table to my future husband right before he asked for my hand in marriage.
Nice move, right?
Now, to be fair, it takes one to know one, he is also “a sweater”, to use his terminology, and he has been my whole life. He wasn’t trying to throw me under the bus, he was trying his best to bring a little reality to his love struck future son-in-law. Of course, I would have chosen a different bit of truth to level the field of play, but that is why they are men and have these sort of meetings without us being present.
Here is the truth though, he was right. I sweat. Not pretty glistening sweat, I mean all out dripping down my temples red-faced kind of sweat and at the slightest sign of heat. I also have hairs in very inconvenient places that grow too long before they are plucked, a saggy baby belly, and a million other things I would rather not mention. In fact there are a million flaws about me outwardly and inwardly as well, I could list them but that would be beside the point.
For years, these flaws-my sweating- it all held me back. It imprisoned me. I avoided things like outdoor picnics and summer time field trips, really any kind of large social gathering caused anxiety. Not because I didn’t like sweating, although I could do without it, but because I didn’t like other people to see me sweat. It mortified me, made me feel embarrassed and so NOT lady like. Smudged make-up and sweat dripping down my back, was not the picture of grace and beauty I wanted to portray.
But my picture, the one that I get to display, it isn’t really my choice- It’s His. He chooses our “pictures”. He gives us a basket full of things in a life and says live in this, through this, with this. He says this not because he wants to torture us, but because He wants to display himself in us. HIS GRACE HIS BEAUTY -NOT MINE.
We all do it, put on our face. We try to put the best out in front and leave the straggly bits behind so no one sees the real stuff that unravels. For some of us it’s being a sweaty mess at a party, others have body issues, there are the alcoholic issues, and eating disorder issues. Really there are so many things we work hard for others just not to see.
But here is the thing… those unraveling bits are where the power lies. I don’t think I would have ever learned this without our struggles in adoption over the past few years. It has taken that pain, that exposure, to reveal the power of His truth that comes when we live open and real FOR HIM.
And so I have learned to embrace my pain and live it out loud. Instead of letting the hard humiliate me, I allow it to humble me. Sure, I may be the only one who looks like a hot mess, but I am never the only one who feels like one. And my willingness to live in the mess of my struggle is often the entrance into real that someone else needs.
The reality is that we all struggle and it is bearing your struggle, pressing hard into it, accepting it and not running from it that brings truth and human camaraderie. It allows Him the opening to move through me to touch those around me. When I accept the mess of who I am and open my life up for others to see, it allows Christ to unearth in me His spirit and His power.
It is our struggles that can become the vehicle for true connection and honest growth. So whatever has you bound up today, whatever feels like your prison – don’t hide it from others or try to avoid it. Instead, live in it and ask God to use it as He humbles you through it. Let his strong be in your weak. It might be the very thing that He uses to save the struggling soul next to you. Our lack, our mess, our real – is the entrance into His unbelievable Grace, His humbling mercy, and His transforming power.