(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Day 35 of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore, we encourage you to share your thoughts and what you've learned in the comment section below each post. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)
Weaknesses...it's not something that most of us like to admit we have. We like to hide them, pretend we don't have any or run from them. However, they're still there. Lurking, waiting to pounce on us, make us feel inadequate and keep us from doing what God wants us to do. It's amazing how God can take our weaknesses and the areas in our lives when we are the weakest and turn them into a strength we never knew we had.
Day 35 had countless points that I would love to share with you. Too many for me to even list. Therefore, I encourage you to read Day 35 if you haven't done so already and really learn how you can turn your weaknesses into something productive. If you have read Day 35, I recommend that you read it again when you are your weakest. I really love how Rick Warren reminds us of Paul and how we can be like him during our weakest times.
For now, I'd like to talk about one point in particular that Rick Warren lists in Day 35.
"At some point in your life you must decide whether you want to impress people or influence people." page 277
This really stirred something inside of me. I immediately thought to myself..."of course I want to influence people." However, we live in a world where we are constantly trying to be the best. The best mom, the best wife, the best friend, the best employee, sometimes even the best Christian. Today's society has put so much pressure on being the best that our world has become one to impress and not to influence. Reading The Purpose Driven Life is really showing me how God uses us to influence others. Especially in the area of our weaknesses, our storms, our most difficult struggles. It's really inspiring to watch how God can take a moment when we are at our weakest and see how he helps strengthen someone else with it. That is, if we let him. We need to be very humble and uplifting and share with each other our fears, weaknesses and worries. Then, we need to step back and let God do his work. As he's working in us, others are watching and are amazed at how we handle our situation. They see a strength that we couldn't see. They see a rainbow in the midst of our storm when we are blinded. The more we keep pressing forward and doing what God needs for us to do and trusting that he will help us, the stronger we get. Case in point number 1.... last week, my boys celebrated their 8th birthday. One of my boys has autism. Birthdays are suppose to be a time to look forward to and a time to celebrate. I can honestly tell you birthdays are hard for me. It's one more year that my son is more behind than I thought he would be at that particular age. I was harvesting a lot of feelings about this and actually waited until the last minute to even send out invitations. One day, I opened up to a friend who doesn't have a child on the spectrum but one whom I knew I could share this to. I was very vulnerable and it was difficult to share my fears and my feelings. However, I kept feeling that God wanted me to open up about this. I was worried I would cry. But then I thought who cares if I cry...why is it so bad for me to cry? So I opened up and showed every weak side of me with everything dealing with autism. I can honestly tell you that I have no idea if I helped her in any way. She did help me. After pouring my heart out to her, she was able to remind me how well my son is doing and how much more potential is out there. The birthday week was a huge success. God turned this weak time in my life around. I know that God used this particular situation for something even bigger. I may not see how it helped strengthen someone else but it felt really good to be able to open up and know that God will use it.
Case in point number two...I have several friends who have recently lost a child. I can't even imagine what it would feel like if one of my children died. It's heartbreaking and hard to even imagine. What is amazing to me is seeing the strength that each one of my friends have during this time. Not only the strength that they show but also where they are getting this strength...from God. During one of the most difficult times in their lives, they have shared their faith in God. They might not be able to see it at this time, but I can see this incredible amount of strength coming from their families and it has taught me how to turn to God to find my strength when I am weak.
Do you want to live your entire life trying to impress others? Do you want to devout countless hours trying to have the perfect kids, husband, house, family? You will spend so much energy on trying to look like you have the perfect life when none of us do. The best thing you could do is open up, be vulnerable and share your weakness with others. God will work through us to help each other become stronger.
I want to live my life influencing others. I encourage you to do this with me. Let's really humble ourselves and share our weaknesses, fears and storms with parents who have newly diagnosed children, with non believers, with parents who don't have children on the spectrum, with people who aren't even parents. Let's show how God is strengthening our weaknesses to any one who will listen. It's amazing who God has watching us when we don't even realize it and how much we are helping them when we let them in.
Bible Verses from Day 35
We are weak...yet by God's power we will live with him to serve you. 2 Corinthians 13:4
I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people. 2 Corinthians 12:9a