I always wanted to be the strong one …
| posted 5/01/2012
Perhaps it's because I'm the youngest of five. Or maybe it's because I'm short and always looked young for my age when I was a teenager and in my 20s (although nobody says that anymore!). It could be because my mother really valued strong women. Or possibly if I didn't tell myself that I was strong, I'd be tempted to cry over everything. But for whatever reason, I always wanted to be the strong one.
The trouble is I'm not.
Learn more through: Accepting Physical Frailties.
I feel fairly strong in spirit, but I got stuck with a really weak body.
For example, my husband and I went on an all-day kayaking trip on Lake Superior with five other couples. As I thought about this trip, I felt a bit of pride that I was in good shape. I'd been walking a mile or two a day for months and knew that was more than many of my friends had been doing. I figured that kayaking all day would make me tired, but that I'd be in better shape than some of the other women going (I worried about a friend who has MS and another who had cancer recently).
I went into the trip tired. It had been a busy month at home and at work, but I wasn't too worried. I figured this was a different kind of activity and such a break from the routine would energize me.
We spent the morning gliding through sea caves and exploring nooks and crannies in the fog of Lake Superior. It was breathtakingly beautiful, with the sun breaking through the mist. We even saw a bald eagle sitting in a tree on the shore. But when we stopped for lunch, I felt exhausted. I figured I just needed to eat, so I didn't lose courage yet.
But as soon as we got into the kayak to begin our return journey, I knew I was shot. I tried paddling for a little while, but soon gave up because I could hardly lift my arms. Then the wind picked up, dispersing the fog, but causing choppy waves. My exhaustion turned to seasickness, and I held my head over the side of the kayak. Finally, my poor husband asked the guide for help and they towed us into shore.
As I dragged myself onto the shore, I collapsed in a heap. My friends cheerfully came ashore a little later and kindly stopped to ask how I was and tell me they were praying for me. My friend with MS and the one who had cancer were in great shape. It was humiliating.
Since then, I've been trying to process why it was so humiliating. I want to be the one who is helping everyone else. I don't want to be the one in need. If I'm helping others, I can feel good about myself and even a bit superior. But when I'm the one who is in need, I feel powerless and weak.
I've learned that lesson before, but it's always hard to learn again in new circumstances. I wanted to be the one who encouraged my weaker friends, not the one who was completely at their mercy and kindness. But perhaps each time I learn this lesson, I gain a glimpse of what Jesus did for us. A perfect, strong being, he gave it all up to take on a weak human body that would suffer humiliation and death for our sakes.
I love Philippians 2, but mostly I've focused on the first part in my ministry to others: