To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I love this time of year. There seems to be a routine or rhythm in life that gets unwound in the summer and everything seems to start to settle back into place by Fall. Any role that I’ve had in my life, whether it be a student or working adult, I’ve felt this way. Structure, routine, predictability, and schedules have always been my friends. Calendars and check lists are like candy!! Not to pick on my A type personality, but these familiar and fond things can turn ugly quick if not kept in check. Little did I know the first 30 years of my life I was bound to my own set of standards and rules that gave me little freedom and joy. My idea of good and perfect couldn’t have been further from God’s best. It is still not within my comprehension that God brought me blessings to lead me out of my own captivity and into His best. Unlike Paul, I did not delight in weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions or difficulties. At all.
In October of 2011, I got married to my husband Jason. Seemed fitting to get married in that season when everything falls into place, right?? And marriage was something I had begged and pleaded for from God for over a decade. This was the first Fall that not everything settled right into place. On the eve of our wedding my dad said to me, “marriage is two sinners learning to live together.” I wasn’t happy with his word choice. Yeah, it may be true, but can you say something prettier to me during this happy time please?! You see, I had a tendency to like things polished and pretty. I realized pretty fast that my dad was right. Jason and I met and married in less than a year. He is a hug from God here on earth for me. Walking, talking, breathing example of God’s grace, but I didn’t always see him that way. When we merged lives, I saw him as my enemy trying to change me and my ways. I was far away from my feelings of familiarity of Fall that year. I fought the weakness God wanted me to embrace. I wrestled with God through prayer and He taught me about humility in ways I will forever be grateful. Sinful ways of judgment and perfection were thriving in my single controlled life. The next year, God showed up daily in our marriage and He gently and graciously released me from those strongholds. I learned how beautiful repentance was and how marriage is more fruitful than I could ever imagine. All while answering our prayer to start a family.
October 2012, on our one year anniversary, we welcomed our son to our family. If I thought the previous Fall was a disappointment for predictability, man was this one a doozy. My heart had only taken baby steps to shed the years of routine and selfish ways I’d grown to think of as good. God had just started to untangle expectations I had created. He was showing me His way of good and how I should embrace weakness so He could be strong. I broke when I came home with our son Logan. Praise The Lord, I was finally broken. A clueless new mom, aching for help, trying to understand my new role and there was no way out. My one year old marriage was also trying to adjust to this new season and we needed God. Thankfully, God sent help with sweet hands that prepared our meals, friends that showed up to listen and teach, family that loved us despite our moods and marriage mentors that need their weight in gold for all they do. We were deeply loved in our weakness. God used His power to make things perfect. I was used to making things perfect. I was behind that wheel. I liked the glory. I was so sinful. The blessing of a baby boy broke me and healed me more than I ever knew I needed. Who chooses to discipline with such love? How can I be worthy of such a loving and gracious God? Thank you Jesus. It was a dark but beautiful time. By the time we were emerging from our old ways and adjusting to our new life, God blessed us with our second child.
Hit fast forward and we are in our favorite season again, Fall of 2015. We just celebrated our Logan’s third birthday and our fourth anniversary. I still love Fall. For very different reasons though. Now it is a reminder that I need to continue to embrace my weaknesses and let God be strong. It is a reminder I need daily because the saying is true, old habits die hard. I wish I could say His work is complete in me and I no longer stumble, but I can’t. Despite this, He is faithful to meet me when I fall and gently point me in the right direction. I wouldn’t trade my days of being so broken for anything. I met my Father there in a way I had never known Him. He gave me freedom and love when I did not deserve it. I will forever be thankful for the timing of His lessons. Little did I know then but I was like a student. Taking notes from the world’s greatest teacher. He taught me love, grace and humility so I can in turn give it to the people that I begged Him so desperately to give me. I don’t do it perfectly, but that’s ok. Perfection isn’t the goal anymore. The new goal is to show up and give my best but give God the glory.
Leslie is married to Jason and they have two kiddos. Logan, 3 and Ellie 19 months. Retired hairdresser and now a stay at home mommy. We have been members of Springdale a brief 4 months and feel right at home.