“When I am weak, then I am strong.”
The Christian paradox of humbling yourself and admitting your weakness in order for God to fill you with His strength.
There’s been many times in life when I’ve felt weak. Transitioning from being a Texas homeschooler to a college student in California left me in a state of social shock. Socially weak. But it was the soft-spoken resident assistant my sophomore year of college with whom I identified that inspired me to apply for her job the following year. After several interviews and a cruel morning of the resident directors observing the other candidates and I do team-building exercises, I got the job. I oversaw a floor of 40-something girls, attempting to foster community through floor and dorm events and getting to know them all on a 1 on 1 basis. At the same time, I was going to weekly sessions at Biola’s counseling center for social anxiety. It was no small miracle that I was not only able to complete my year, but was actually re-hired for a second year!
The explanation is that I clearly remember my first week on the job, asking for God to help me, because there was absolutely no way I could do it on my own.
There’s been other times of weakness, too. When I felt emotionally weak the first few months of marriage, and God stepped in to help Carlos and I learn how to communicate better. When I feel linguistically weak basically on a daily basis, but yet I’ve always somehow found the words to express myself in Spanish, in a variety of different situations.
But physically weak? No, not me. I’ve played sports my whole life, always kept up a pretty regular workout routine, and never had any major injuries, illnesses, or surgeries.
When I became pregnant with Sophia, I tried my best to stay active. I wanted to ensure the smoothest labor, delivery, and recovery that I could. I went on walks, stretched, and did yoga. I walked miles and miles every day on my trip to Italy and Greece in January. In my last month of pregnancy, my parents and I walked between 30-45 minutes every day, even as my walk turned into more of a waddle. Although I was terrified of giving birth, I knew that I could do it. Because I was strong.
Labor and delivery went smoothly and before I knew it, I was holding a 9 pound, 11 ounce baby girl in my arms. But, as I wrote about here, things didn’t go as planned in the hours afterward. I had to have surgery and spent a night in the ICU without Sophia. With my nurse’s help, I got out of bed for the first time about 24 hours after she was born, and I struggled to make it the six feet to the bathroom, my chest rising and falling from the exertion. That was when I realized how weak I was. God was going to have to help me.
The next few weeks, physically, were very hard. Carlos and my parents had to help me with almost everything: lifting Sophia, feeding Sophia, holding Sophia, getting Sophia in and out of the car, cooking. And yet, they were some of the best weeks of my life. Because I realized that God was completely in control of my health, my recovery, my daughter, my life, and that made me feel grateful and safe.
The months have gone by and my physical strength has (somewhat, maybe mostly) returned and that makes me incredibly grateful. However, even though my stretch marks are still very obvious and in certain shirts I still look 3 months pregnant, there is a certain fondness I feel for my postpartum body. Because it reminds me of my weakness. And, as I’ve learned, that is the only way to be strong.