"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 5:3
In the summer of 2008, China hosted the summer Olympics. At the time, our son Sam was a super-energetic and adventurous two-year-old. When he saw the gymnasts on television doing all their fancy flips and jumps, his eyes were wide with amazement. His little body was compelled to test his own acrobatic abilities. The couch became his springboard, and the throw pillows were his landing pad. They weren't quite large enough to break all his falls, and we knew this new favorite activity wasn't going to be quickly forgotten. So, we bought Sam a beanbag and let him jump and tumble to his hearts' content.
We are also a football-watching family. Seeing the football players line up in their crouched positions, running head-to-head and tackling each other looked like great fun to Sam! This became a nightly game with Eric and Sam. They would crouch down on opposite sides of the living room, run at each other, then tackle, roll, and laugh happily!
Many weekends during that time our family would travel to various churches to present our future ministry in Togo and raise support. I will never forget the Sunday we spent at a church in the fall of 2009. I was enormously pregnant, and Sam was his usual energetic and adventurous self. We were standing in the lobby of a church near our display table. Sam was in room next to us, playing with other little kids. While speaking with members of the church about our hopes and dreams for our future life in Togo, one of the church leaders approached Eric. "You need to take care of your son." Dread! I stayed at the table and Eric went and found Sam leading the other kids in a game of pretending to be gymnasts! He had taken all the cushions off the couches in the prayer room, arranged them around the floor and they were all wildly jumping form couch to couch and cushion to cushion have a marvelous time! It was just like home. But the other parents and leaders were not happy. Eric rearranged the room and brought Sam to where we were standing.
Unhappy to have to quit his wonderful game and becoming bored, Sam remembered another game we played at home, "tackle." He spotted a little girl across the room. Those twenty seconds of our lives seemed to progress in slow-motion. Eric didn't see Sam until he was half-way across the room. I was enormously pregnant and could barely walk, let alone run. It was a direct hit! Sam tackled the little girl beautifully! Any NFL player would have been proud! But, the little girl's dad, a leader in the church, was anything but impressed. Immediately, it seemed like our ability to parent, let alone serve as missionaries in a foreign country, was seriously called into question. We were chided for our lack of discipline and control. We returned home, shamed and rejected. Within a week, we received a "How-to" parenting book in the mail from that church.
We were broken and bruised from that experience. The feelings of inadequacy felt like they were drowning the hopes and dreams we had been working so hard to achieve.
Unworthy. Unfit. Insufficient. Inadequate.
Those words sting. Even writing them, my heart rate is increasing, and my breathing is becoming shallow. These are the sensations that drove us to our knees. We pleaded with God to cover our shame and help us. Parenting is our most important and beloved job. Of all that we aspired to do, we didn't want to fail our son and soon to be born daughter. We were desperate.
Our home church leaders and friends were a great comfort to us the weeks following 'the incident'. They assured us that we were not failing as parents and reminded us that our son was three years old, full of life and sweetness, and was just fine. Now, when we tell the story we can laugh at the absurdity of the whole event. But the labels we received still sting. Those wounds and emotions can still really hurt. And the desperate pleas to the Lord, to help us, remain as fervent as ever.
Jesus said, blessed are the poor in spirit. Those words hit the Jewish people on the hillside the same way the word 'inadequate' hits me. To feel like we just aren't good enough or have what it takes is a vulnerable and painful feeling. And Jesus is telling us, it's ok that we feel this way. In fact, it's good that it compels us to come to Him for help. He is eager to come to our aid, answer our pleas for help, and fill our gaps with his own adequacy.
Where we feel weak, He fills with strength.
Where we feel insufficient, He makes us sufficient.
Where we feel confused, He gives us wisdom.
Where we feel powerless, He makes our efforts effective.
Where we are not good enough, He is good for us.
We are blessed when we feel inadequate, because we are inadequate, all of us. But it is only those who realize this and understand it that come to Jesus to be filled.
"So, I say to you, ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find.
Knock and it will be opened to you. "
Earthly fathers know how to "...give good gifts to their children.
How much more will your Heavenly Father
give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" Luke 11:9,13
Aside from my marriage, no relationship on earth is more important to me than my relationship with my kids. That's why my inadequacy as a parent can feel so devastating. It drives me to my knees more than any other thing I pray about!
No relationship in the world is more important that my relationship with God. My inadequacy before Him truly is devastating, were it not for Grace! When we understand that we are inadequate to be citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, then our hearts are ready to ask for and receive grace and mercy. He fills us with His Spirit and makes us more than adequate. He makes us beautiful.
I am thankful for that fateful weekend. It showed me my inadequacy and brought me to the feet of Jesus. I trust Him to take my lack and make me full.
What circumstance in your life constantly reminds you of your inadequacy? Let that be the catalyst that constantly reminds you of your need for God and His abundance for life and salvation. Let it drive you to your knees and ask Him to be everything you can't be.
He will turn your inadequacy into your strength!
If you or someone you know identify with any of these feelings or experiences and want to speak with someone, you can contact me. Let me know how I can reach you and we can set up a time to talk together about how Jesus' words can bring healing and relief.