Approaching the birth of my fourth child, I am certainly excited, but I'm definitely feeling nervous, even a bit panicky. This happens every time I'm about to welcome a new child to the family and hit the "reset" button on my stability once again. I thought I would've been more prepared for it, that I would have my act together a little more. But no, I'm being given a huge privilege and responsibility, and I'm still a hot mess. You can probably relate. Maybe you're about to enter a scary new job or you've been given the care of an elderly person when your plate is already full. Maybe you have no idea how you're going to make it through this upcoming season of life.
When we're thinking this way, here's something we can tell ourselves:
An Open Letter to My Despairing Self
Thank you for taking the time to make that list of all the ways that you're ill-equipped for the job you're about to undertake. I don't disagree with it, and I'm sure there are hardships and weaknesses that you've forgotten or haven't thought of yet. It's true that you don't have enough time, that you don't have enough hands, and that you aren't enough. It's quite possible that you'll always feel tired, needy, and maybe a little helpless.
But there are some major things you have failed to remember.
One is that you're getting stronger. Think about the other times you've been overwhelmed by your lot. With each new responsibility you've been given, you felt like you couldn't handle it, but now look! If even one of those is relieved for a time, it feels like you can do anything! Is it because your responsibilities are getting easier? No! It's because you, dear Self, are getting stronger!
Difficulty is not the worst thing that can happen to you, Self! Neediness and insufficiency are not the most destructive feelings you can have. In fact, biblically and historically speaking, pride is the worst thing that can happen to you. The very very worst.
Being faced with your weakness, over and over again, with every instance of short-fused blast of frustration or every poorly-timed breakdown into tears, you are being reminded of your humanity. Yet every new day, every tiny speck of progress that you don't even notice, you are being reminded that you are being held. That you are growing. That you are investing. That you are becoming.
Look at your journals; remember your past. Cries of fear and despair have been spewing from your mind and mouth for years. In fact, cries of fear and despair have been rising up to God since, what, Adam and Eve? But from the very beginning, He has covered His people's nakedness and cared for them. God's faithfulness continues from generation to generation, for thousands and thousands of years. The tender love and mercy that flavor the histories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is flavoring your story as well.
Self, you will survive this next season. The God who kept Gladys Aylward going as she led a hundred young orphans on a 27-day journey to safety through the China mountains is going to keep you going as well. The God who gave otherworldly confidence to Perpetua as she was torn by beasts then killed by sword as crowds watched and cheered will certainly help you too. The God who strengthened Richard Wurmbrand as he suffered in prison for many years---three of which were in solitary confinement---will be your strength too. They were sustained through their fears, and you will be too.
So you can take quite seriously God's command to not fear. Maybe one day God will call you to that kind of extreme situation, and you will have to trust that He will give you grace in that moment too. But till then, take heart that He is building faith in you. You might envision yourself to be much more self-sufficient ten years from now, but that is a faulty goal. Assuming you continue to grow in wisdom and strength, you will only become more and more aware of your weakness and neediness.
But that awareness, Lord willing, will cause your self-estimation to shrink, and your view of God---and thus your joy, lightheartedness, and yes, confidence---to expand and define you.
Dear Self, as you enter this season---or any season---you must remember Who is holding you, Who has held you, and Who has held every single one of His people for thousands and thousands of years without ever breaking His promise to one of them. Trust Him. Look upward.
And enjoy your new season. Receive it as a gift.
"If you are sufficient for your task, it's too small." -John Piper
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My name is Hope.
I'm 26, married to a former skater dude, and raising little people ages 6, 4, 3, and squishy-baby. I like lime green and sarsaparilla, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today