Today I am excited to share my space and introduce you to fellow blogger and writer, Jordan Fortenboher. We connected in recent years as we both were learning to chase dreams and move forward in obedience to what God had (and has) for our lives. Her words have encouraged me along the way and I hope they will encourage you this week and next week as she guest posts on the limitations that come with preparing to be a mom AND being a new mom.
I’m not sure what I was expecting when God led me to choose the word receive for my One Word this year. I suppose I had expected a word more actionable, a word I understood, a word I could use as a motivator.
I suppose I expected a word that would map out all that I should do this year. And that’s the farthest thing from the word God gave me.
Not that the word receive is passive, but it doesn’t have the kind of oomph that words like hustle, and trust, and vision, and excellence might have.
The word receive is more of a quiet whisper kind of word. Rather than spurring me to action, receive causes my heart to pause. Rather than telling me what to do, the word shows me how to be.
And this is not what my Type-A, do-it-all, bootstrapping personality wanted. It’s what my heart desperately needed.
As I await the birth of my first baby, receiving is the very last thing I want to learn. I want to cram in a million projects, be scarily over-prepared, and spend a lot of time with family and friends (before mom life takes over and I have no energy left and all they want to do is hold the baby anyway). I want to actually catch up on the laundry, have meals ready to go in the freezer, clean the whole house a few times…
But my body and soul can’t handle any of that. I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night (and yes, I know that will get worse). I’m often in pain as my body practices for labor and carries all this extra weight. My ankles are so swollen I can’t wear my own shoes. Physically, I feel like I am falling apart. Mentally, like I am walking in a fog.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to push through anymore. I’m used to pushing myself to the max, through pain and exhaustion. It’s what I do. And for most of my life, it’s worked. I’ve been “successful” and proud to say I accomplished hard things, all by myself and despite all the odds.
But I’m not sure who I’ve been trying to prove myself to. And my old habits simply don’t work anymore. I am too weary to force my way to success. I am too tired to push myself to meet my own standards. I am at my limit in every way.
I would never expect a friend to do the things I expect from myself. I would want to be there, encouraging her to rest. I would want to help.
And yet, the mental conversation I have with myself goes something like this: “Why can’t you do this? It’s so simple. It’s laundry, for crying out loud. You are a failure. You should be able to handle this on your own. Really, you should be doing more.” Ouch.
A lot of it boils down to not being open to receiving. For some reason, I don’t want to ask for help. I want to prove that I can do it all. But now that I’ve hit my limits, it’s almost like God is quietly smiling. He has backed me into a corner where I don’t have a choice anymore.
In a world that celebrates doing, I am being called to stop doing so much. I am being taught to open my heart to receive help from others. God is teaching me what it means to pause and be present. He is teaching me that being is so much more valuable than doing.
I am trying to learn what that looks like, especially within the realm of discovering my new limits. I know I will still be learning this when the baby comes along and I have even narrower limits and need even more help. Frankly, I am dreading all of this change.
For some reason, it feels easier to do things on my own than to allow others to help me. Maybe I’m afraid they will think I am weak?
But I am weak right now. I am learning to be OK with that. I am learning to allow God to be the strength that I need for each day. I am learning to depend on Him and receive that strength each morning.
And maybe someday, I will see that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, while not being afraid to boast in my weaknesses, so that all will see His strength at work in my life, rather than my own. Maybe someday I will learn to boast of my weakness, so that I can see God’s strength carrying me through each and every moment.
Maybe I will stop being afraid of my limits and instead lean into them. Maybe I’ll lean into the grace God has built into my limits, the grace that is for me because He is good.
Maybe I’ll finally see my limits as helpful. They keep me from arrogance, but they also bring me straight to the Father. These limits bring me to a place where I have to be real, where I have to seek Him, where I have to depend on His grace.
Maybe limits aren’t meant to hold me back, but to bring me to a place of leaning in.
And maybe it’s the weakness that really does make us strong, because we’re finally in a place to receive the only real strength out there. And the strength doesn’t lie in doing more, but in simply being. Simply receiving the grace that is already there for us, the strength that is already offered through Christ.
Jordan Fortenboher is a wife, new mom, blogger, and singer-songwriter. Her goal is to share hope with the world by writing honestly about her struggle with anxiety and how God is carrying her through it. You can read more of her writing or check out her music (including her latest album!) at jordanforty.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.