Someone recently said I was one of the strongest Christians she knew, and that bothered me. Why?
Because I don’t feel like a strong Christian. I feel like a paltry one, at best. I don’t pray as much as I should. I don’t trust God like I should. I put pleasing others before pleasing Him. I lose my patience. I get distracted. I have doubts. I get scared.
I have recurring dreams where I’m trying to drive a car from the passenger seat, and if that doesn’t describe my faith right now, I don’t know how else to say it. I want so badly to walk around with a smile and pretend like everything is great and under control, but it’s not. On Sundays, I sing in the choir about God being on the throne, but at home, I have to constantly remind myself of that very fact. Trying to hold it all together leaves me exhausted.
But I’ve found freedom in those unguarded moments when I admit to someone that I have no idea what I’m doing. In moments where I break down and admit that I’m wrestling with so many of my own doubts that when someone else questions my path, it becomes too much. And it’s in these raw and honest moments that I’ve realized I’m not the only one who struggles with living by faith. I’m not the only one who is overwhelmed and discouraged and weary.
I’m not the only one who is weak.
I know this because when I share my troubles with someone, they often share theirs in return. And many times, they’re struggling with the same things I am.
We live in a world that glorifies superwoman and hustle culture, and we often find ourselves juggling several different things and then feeling like failures when we drop the ball. We don’t want to admit our weaknesses, our struggles, our faults. But at the end of the day, the truth is, you aren’t the only one who needs help. You aren’t the only one who needs Jesus.
James 5:16 says, Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed… That first part sounds intimidating, but I think the point is to be honest with each other when we’re struggling. Not so others can judge us but so we can encourage one another and pray for one another. So we can build a community, a family, and help each other grow. So we can all see Christ at work.
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul tells us that he begged God to take away a thorn in his flesh. In verses 9-10, Paul says, And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
It’s the weaknesses that show Christ’s strength, Christ’s power, and Christ’s glory. It’s the weaknesses that show Christ’s grace.
How many times have you been touched by a testimony where someone admits they doubted God’s provision, but He came through anyway? How many times have you identified with someone who admitted to struggling with grief when God met them at their lowest? I am convinced these stories touch us because they remind us that though we are weak, God is strong. Though we are fickle, God is faithful. Though we are wretched, God is merciful.
These stories touch us because they remind us that God loves us despite our weaknesses. That being perfect isn’t a requirement. And that reminder gives us the hope we need because we all know we will fall short of perfection every time.
If those stories can touch us, the ones already acquainted with God’s grace, how might they affect the lost?
On TV, when someone goes to Alcoholics Anonymous, they introduce themselves by saying, “My name is so-and-so, and I’m an alcoholic.” I took to Google to see if that is actually what happens in these meetings. I discovered that the reason they do this is because admitting their problem is the first step to dealing with it. They have to realize they will always be an alcoholic and will need to work on it every day of their lives.
A man named Michael Morse put it this way:
“The sense of freedom gained from stating that sentence in public is a better high than every substance designed to avoid living ever was, or ever will be. Had I not said those words, my life would be far different from the one I enjoy today… I am a person first, husband, father, brother and friend second, firefighter third, and last but not least, an alcoholic. The first bunch of definitions I’m proud of. The last one just is. I’m not ashamed to be any of the pieces that complete the puzzle that is me. The person I am took a while to put together. Lots of experiences…went into the making of me, at this moment.
My name is Michael Morse, and I am an alcoholic. It still amazes me, some fourteen years later, how good it makes me feel to say those words.”
“My Name is…and I am an alcoholic“, American Addiction Centers Blog
The thing is, just as Michael Morse is and always will be an alcoholic, I am and always will be a sinner. Admitting I am a sinner was the first step to receiving the gift of salvation. Because I admitted to being a sinner, believed that Christ died for my sins, and confessed Him as my Lord and Savior, I’m now a recovering sinner saved by a merciful God. Every day, I need to work at it. But I can do this knowing that God won’t give up on me, that He is always beside me, and that He is still working on me.
I am a child of God first. Daughter, sister, aunt, and friend second. Writer, third. Last, but not least, I am a sinner. Like Michael, I’m proud of the first set of definitions. The last just is.
While reading about A.A., I learned that another reason they introduce themselves by identifying as an alcoholic is that it helps others at the meetings realize they are not alone. And by realizing they are not alone, they’re more likely to get the help they need.
I think that applies to this too. If I admit my struggles, my weaknesses, and my imperfections, maybe others will see Christ’s glory, His strength, and His mercy. Maybe they will see they don’t have to go this alone.
God called me to serve Him unafraid, unashamed, and unapologetic. So I’m taking a step forward with these words:
My name is Jennifer, and I am a sinner saved by grace.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Jennifer Purcell