Living on the Edge

In college, I lived comfortably in the center of all my strengths. I was a student, which called upon my skills in organization and time-management, and rewarded my enthusiasm for bookish pursuits. More than that, I was an English major, so I was only taking classes I loved. I was single, which allowed me to organize my time altogether selfishly; this meant going to bed early and waking early for long runs and extended quiet times of prayer and devotion. I was part of a great group of Nav friends who lived on campus and did ridiculously dorky things like assemble puzzles and play board games. These were my kind of people! I filled my days with activities I was interested in and friends I enjoyed. I cleaned up after myself. Things stayed where I put them.

As a mom, I find myself living dangerously close to the edge of my capabilities. I call myself stupid about a thousand times a day. I feel stupid about a million times a day. I lose my patience. I lose my perspective. I lose my keys.

Suddenly I realize all the things I don’t know how to do–things like decorating a house or preserving all of those tomatoes my neighbor keeps bringing me. Things I never had to do in college.

I spent my whole life refusing to try things that made me feel incompetent. Whenever possible, I stayed comfortably within my own strengths, rarely straying so far as to try things at which I was merely capable and NEVER into territory where I could potentially fail. But here I am, quite far from my strengths and on the very edge of mere capability, forced to confront my own weaknesses and failures.

I would never have traveled here on my own, but motherhood has set me down on the outer edges of my ability. From here,  I can see the very limits of my own patience, my own wisdom, my own abilities. Believe me, I have reached these limits more than once. Yet, imagine my surprise when I discovered that when I reach my limits, the grace of Christ kicks in. I have discovered for myself what Paul (Bible Paul, not my husband) has been trying to tell me for years: “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

I have discovered that where my own strengths end, at the very outermost edge of what I feel I am capable of handling, Christ has already provided his own strength for me so that the edges blur and it is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me. Suddenly, there is no edge, no dangerous precipice over which I can fall into full-blown, self-centered rage. I can stop fearing what happens when I finally run out of patience.

Allow me to brag of my weaknesses: I am impatient! I am selfish! I am tired! And yet I never run out of patience, selflessness, and energy!

I can take new delight in my weaknesses, for they have taught me not to rely on my own strength at all. Out here where I live, I simply can’t. But it doesn’t matter anymore because I have not moved from the center of strength after all.

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2 thoughts on “Living on the Edge

  1. I can help you out with the tomatoes (for next year, I realize it’s October now). Just wash them, let them air dry, and then freeze them whole in ziploc bags. When you are ready to use them, run them under warm water and the skins will slide ride off. Then you can use them in stews and chilis. They will be like stewed tomatoes but healthier and free!

    Good thing Jesus can help you with the rest!

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