The table was covered with stacks of papers reporting what has happened at Mercy House in the past year.
We sat and discussed the data. But it was more than charts and tables. It was miraculous proof that God is made perfect in our weakness.
“Well, first I want to congratulate you and Terrell for still being married,” our Chairman of the Board said to start off the board meeting. “Many marriages don’t make it through the kind of transition your family and non-profit has had this year.”
I caught my husband’s eye and I had to look away so I wouldn’t cry. It had been a really hard year, but it had also been good and we were still married so there was that.
We shared some of the highs and lows of the beautiful and broken road we are traveling, working to empower women in Kenya at the maternity homes and in 24 other countries through the work of Fair Trade Friday.
The meeting proved that I will always be a crier. I needed Kleenex the first 5 minutes in. I mean, who would have thought a yes in 2010 would make us the poster children that proves God can do anything with anyone.
It didn’t take long for reporting to turn to dreaming as we brainstormed ways to come along side oppressed women and leaders giving their lives in obscure places to help them. We took notes and waved our arms passionately about. We prayed and we talked practically about obstacles and next steps.
By the time my kids were getting off the school bus, I was a mom again. Our meeting would resume over dinner with our out-of-town board members.
While my kids ate an after-school snack, I sat on my couch mentally exhausted. When my husband got home, I was still sitting. He plopped on the couch next to me, exhilarated by all the planning and dreaming.
But I was near tears.
I put my head in my hands and he gently rubbed my back. What is it?
“There’s a part of me that wishes we could just keep things the same. . .stay in this place. We talked about exciting things, but I’m tired and I’m afraid,” I confessed.
What are you afraid of? Because this place we’re in today would have terrified us 5 years ago.
My own inadequacy, I silently screamed.
“I’m a reluctant leader,” I whispered. The words hung in the air.
At dinner, I said them again to our Board members. “I don’t know if I can do the things we talked about. I’m afraid. I’m reluctant. I’m scared I can never be who people expect me to be or who they think I already am. I’m weak.”
Ann grabbed my hand under the table and told me she didn’t trust any leader who wasn’t limping. She reminded me of Jacob who wrestled with God. He had his own anxieties, control issues and doubt.
“In the end, Jacob does what we all must do. He confronts his failures, his weaknesses, his sins, all the things that are hurting him . . . and faces God. Jacob wrestled with God all night. It was an exhausting struggle that left him crippled. It was only after he came to grips with God and ceased his struggling, realizing that he could not go on without Him, that he received God’s blessing Genesis 32:39” source
Jacob’s name became Israel that night, which means “He struggles with God.” I smiled at my dear friend. We know something of this limping.
“Remember when God called Gideon? He was hiding from the attacking army in a pit in the ground, threshing grain. The angel called him a mighty warrior while he was being a coward,” my husband said. He continued the story, how much Gideon doubted his calling, how afraid he was, how God stripped him of his army and replaced their weapons with useless pots.
We all contributed bits and pieces to the familiar Bible story. Gideon was weak. He was an unqualified doubter. And his obvious weakness made it even more clear who really won the battle.
Kristen, you’re a reluctant warrior, but God is on your side. He is with you. These are the words I tell myself everyday.
I don’t know what battle you face today. I don’t know how weak, tired and overwhelmed you feel, but take heart: you do not fight this battle alone.
Empty your hands and hold onto Him because the weaker you are, the more obvious it is who is really in charge.
Maybe you need these words as much as I do:
Face God, and limp on reluctant warrior.