Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Joy of the Lord is my Strength

As I prepared a "lesson" to share with my mother's group, High Point Church Mama Chiks, I revisited a script that I wrote about a year ago, and I am in awe of the transformation He has made in me.

I've rewritten it, and the scripture references came to me like I've known them all my life.  I remember how hard it was to find them the first time I wrote that script.  It was one of my favorite lessons, and one that I learned a lot from myself.

I also realized how much "blogging it out" has helped in my transformation. (Thank you, mamahall, for encouraging me to do so.)  I ended up borrowing a lot of the references I made from my blog.  It was like a "works cited" page right at my fingertips :).  The new version is even better, so I thought I'd share it.  Since I'm in the typing mood.

Last year, we were introduced to the book Momology, by Shelly Radic.  The thesis of this book is that Motherhood is part art, part science, all faith, and a constant work in progress.  It provides commentary to a couple of important concepts taught in the Word.  First, that we are all wonderfully made.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well...Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” ~Psalm 139:13-14, 16
It also emphasizes the fact that we have all been specifically designed to match what our children need in a mother.  We were made for them, and they were made for us.  And we were all created in God’s own image (Genesis 1:27).
As mothers, we always feel as if we have to be strong enough.  For our children, for our husbands, for our parents, for everyone.  And oftentimes, we hold on to that “super-mom” title so tightly, we forget to ask for help.  We grow resentful of the people for whom we are being strong.  We have to learn to trust God with our lives.  To turn over control to Him. 

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” ~Isaiah 40:31

If you have time to look up Matthew West’s song “Strong Enough" it has really powerful lyrics.  Have you heard it?  {I took the liberty of removing some repetitious words and verses.} 

“Strong Enough” by Matthew West

You must think I'm strong
To give me what I'm going through
Well, forgive me if I'm wrong
But this looks like more than I can do on my own

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up, I'm not strong enough

Hands of mercy, won't You cover me?
Lord, right now I'm asking You to be
Strong enough for the both of us

Well, maybe that's the point
To reach the point of giving up
'Cause when I'm finally at rock bottom
Well, that's when I start looking up and reaching out

'Cause I'm broken, down to nothing
But I'm still holding on to the one thing
You are God and You are strong
When I am weak

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
I don't have to be strong enough

Hands of mercy, won't You cover me?
Lord, right now I'm asking You to be
Strong enough

When you feel like you have nowhere else to turn, turn to Him.  He will rescue you. 
 “I love you, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer…The cords of death entangled me, the torrents of destruction overwhelm me…In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help.  From His temple He heard my voice…The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because He was angry.  He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me…He rescued me because He delighted in me.” ~Psalm 18:1-19

Take an index card.  Write down your strengths on one side and your weaknesses on the other…
The author of Momology says this, “If we’ve been specifically designed to match what our child needs in a mom, it only makes sense to focus on the strengths within that design.  Developing our strengths will allow us to be the best mom possible.  While being aware of and managing our weaknesses is good, constantly focusing on them is destructive, causing a breakdown in our self-perception and distorting the purposefully and wonderfully designed image we should have of ourselves."

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it [weakness] away from me.  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."  ~2 Corninthians 12:8-10 
Which side has the longest list?  Most people are more aware of their weaknesses. 
If you could choose only one list to cut and paste into your child’s brain, which side would you insert?  Duh, we’d all choose our list of strengths.  If we want to raise up confident, resilient, strong children, we have to live by example. 

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” ~Proverbs 22:6

Let’s make the same choices for ourselves and begin focusing on our strengths.  The book offers a great way to work on focusing on our strengths.  Here’s how…
First, know that each one of your weaknesses derives from one of your strengths.  I’ll give you an example.  I have a tendency to be impulsive.  I could say that this is one of my weaknesses.  But if I look at it from a strengths perspective, I may say that I am decisive.  It’s all a matter of seeing yourself in a positive manner, so that you can use your strengths more effectively.  Let’s say that you’re unorganized.  You don’t like schedules or planning or commitments.  If you focus on those negatives—viewing them as weaknesses, it can be self-destructive.  Instead, appreciate the flexibility you offer yourself and your family each day. 
Now, find the strength behind each weakness you think you have…Starting with the list you’ve made.  Beside each weakness you’ve written down, identify the strength from which it is derived.  It may be tricky to do, at first, but if you practice it enough, you will start to change the perception you have of yourself. 
Also, take time out of each day to spend time with God.  It will change your life.  I promise. 

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”  ~Deuteronomy 4:29