It all crumbled slowly and subtly. Things usually do. You don’t see the fragility of it all until you’re right there in the middle.
The middle for me was on the way to a beautiful summer wedding. It had been a hard season for my family. Full time jobs and the second move in a year had left us exhausted and stretched to capacity. We had just come from a relaxing camping trip and were now attempting to get three adults, four kids, one dog and a camper trailer to the wedding of a good family friend.
It felt like we needed this. We needed it to go right. We needed some sort of relief.
That relief didn’t come when we set out about an hour too late. As hard as I thought and as hard as I prayed, the clock didn’t stop. My dad was frustrated, the kids were crying. My mom was silent, knowing she would be late to the wedding of her best friend’s daughter. We drove along the highway as the tension rose in the car. I tried so hard not to cry as voices rose and verbal punches were thrown. Then our bikes start falling off our car, so we pulled down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere to fix them.
I jumped out of the car, trying to help. I could fix this if I just tried hard enough. Everything will be okay somehow, I kept telling myself. But it didn’t look like that. Standing there—in the dirt—in my black dress, red lipstick, and four-inch heels; I just held my breath. I felt nauseous.
I couldn’t do enough; I couldn’t BE enough.
I grew up with that child-sized view of superhero parents who could magically do it all. I continued through high school with straight A’s and the belief that it just takes more coffee, more effort, and more strife to get where you want to be. If you just try hard enough, you can make it.
But that’s not true.
I feel it strongly as of late. I feel it when just getting through the day is a struggle—when I have two parking tickets, loans on loans, and my shoes break apart when I’m finally walking home from class at 10pm. I feel it when friendships get messy—when you and your best friend have seasons of your life you’d rather not remember. I feel it when relationships don’t work and you’re left alone with all your questions. I feel it when families fight and your idealistic view on the happy home doesn’t match up with what you’re looking at.
Your best is not always good enough. You can cry, you can scream, you can pull all-nighters, you can work two jobs, and you can pretend you don’t feel any of it. But sometimes, none of that is enough. I realize what this is now. Today at Reality LA, the sermon gave voice to the things I couldn’t say.
We are limited. We are finite.
And—we can rejoice in those limits.
When we finally pulled up to the wedding, we parked our trailer across the street. We jumped out, set up a kennel, changed into suits, brushed off dog hair and ran to the wedding (or stutter stepped in high heels). We entered right before the actual procession began. The beautiful bride looked just like a princess—beaming with expectancy. We took our seats as “Take Heart” began to play and the flower girls began to walk down the aisle.
And I just started crying. We made it. There is no way that should have happened. And as I looked up at the cross in the front of the church, I saw it come to life for me. Through this small struggle in my life, I saw a beautiful portrait of our greater struggle.
This is the Gospel—the Good News: I’m not enough. I am finite. I am mortal. I’m not perfect and I mess up more times than people know. Despite all my efforts, I could not earn a place in heaven. My best just isn’t good enough. But God.
God knew that. He filled the gap for me when He sent Jesus to die on the cross and pay the price I could never pay. “He has overcome.” His grace goes beyond my limits.
This is why I rejoice in my limits, because His strength is made perfect in my weakness. I rejoice in messy friendships, tough relationships, and a family that isn’t perfect. Because God is, and I see his redemption written all over my life.
When friendships are redeemed, when my family makes it through to the other side of a difficult season; I know it’s not me. I can’t try hard enough; I am not enough. But He is. Through him, I am enough—because, He fills the gap.
He redeems and He makes all things new. His goodness is limitless and His grace never runs out. We can boast in our weakness, knowing that He will be shown strong through it all.
“I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the rock of ages.” – Charles Spurgeon