Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Who Will Be Your Strong One?

This past weekend I had the precious privilege of going on a 'retreat' with many of my sisters in Christ from Proverbs 31 Ministries. Most of the time when we are able to all get together, the focus is work, work, work!  But this was a special weekend of nothing but rest, rest, rest... and a lot of pajamas, coffee, chocolate, fellowship and fun (and a few tears, which is to be expected in a group of emotional women, right?!)

Yet in the midst of all the calorie intake and laughter, we also invited Jesus to meet us there.  Our Mama Lu as we all call her (Luann Prater) and our sweet Amy (Carroll), had planned some special quiet time activities for each day that would nourish our hearts and feed our spirits for the days ahead.

On Saturday morning, after many breakfast delicacies, we discovered that there were five different "stations" prepared, with each one focused on a specific quiet time activity. Soft music filled the silence as we all quietly wandered through the house from station to station,  reading our Bibles, journaling our thoughts, and spending time in prayer, as the calmness of the Holy Spirit permeated the air.

At one particular station, we were instructed to randomly draw a piece of paper out of an envelope, which held the many names of God, then journal about what the name we selected meant in relevance to our life. So I closed my eyes and reached into the envelope, grabbed a piece of paper, and pulled it out. The holy name that God led my fingers to, was "El: The Strong One".

As I allowed this name of God and the verses provided to seep into my heart, these were the first words that I scribbled into my journal:

"Jesus, I have always tried to be the strong one. Strong for my mom... my dad... my sister... my brother... my husband... my children...my friends..." and after each person I listed, I gave a reason why it was often so hard to be strong for them.

As the words poured out of my pen, I laid at His feet the exhaustion that comes from trying to be strong for everyone in my own strength.  I admitted my tendency of masking my own emotional weaknesses, so that I could be strong for others, and so that others would think I am strong.

I don't normally set out to be self-sufficiently strong, it is just a habit that has evolved throughout my lifetime.  I could try to attribute my strong-willed habits to being a Type A personality, or maybe because I am the first born child in my family and have a built in sense of responsibility for others, or maybe because life has been hard at times, and I had to be strong.... or I could be honest, and attribute it to not always remembering that God's strength is fully sufficient for my needs.

So as I took this peek into my inner self, my heart was pulled towards asking for forgiveness, for having ever thought that I could be the 'rock' for myself or for others.   I remembered the verse in 2 Samuel 22:3 which says "my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior....." God gently reminded me that I am no one's rock - that is His job, and His job alone.

As I soaked in the whispers of His spirit, my heart lightened, and I found myself journaling about how far I had come in learning to rely on the strength of Jesus when faced with adversities; in finding peace, when life was far from peaceful; in seeking - and discovering- guidance and wisdom, when I needed hope and direction; in learning to rely fully on Him.  As I glanced over the written words that had spilled out from my deepest thoughts, I realized that over time, I have cultivated a habit of seeking God's strength, when I have none left to draw from.  

I think I finally understand that God is strong, so we don't have to be. Although I will always have the human tendency to try to be strong on my own, I can ask God to prick my heart each time I begin to do so.

If you have been trying to be strong for everyone else, and find it exhausting and joy robbing, would you be willing to loosen your grip on your problems and emotions, and let God carry them for a while? 

Are you willing to let go of your habit to appear strong and in control, and let God be the Rock?

If you have been depending on another person to be your strength, will you give God a chance, and discover how His strength alone is sufficient?

Life is too short to depend on ourselves, and stay weighted down with things we were never meant to carry. The Strong One, our Rock, is ready to be our strength, but we have to be willing to let Him be.

Who will be your Strong One today?

Exodus 15:2
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him— my father’s God, and I will exalt him!  (NLT)


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Sandie said...

Thank you Tracie your words are beatiful and remind me that indeed God is my strenth. I too am guilty of being the strong one during difficult situations but I praise the Lord that I learned many years ago that strength comes from Him alone. I find my comfort and strength in Him that I am able to share with others in their time of need.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Traci for the beautiful post. I am learning to let go and depend on Him to be my strong one. I need to always remember that He is strong and I don't have to be. Blessings to you.

Jennifer Dougan said...


What a rejuvenating-sounding retreat! Time spent in silence with God, and then laughter and tears with dear friends are treasures.

The names of God are a wonderful way to get to know him more, aren't they? It makes me miss an old Bible study some friends and I went through years ago.

Jennifer Dougan