Revealing Weakness

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

There was a battle going on in my mind.

"This is the time. Say it."

"No. They will think you are attention-seeking. They'll think you are weak, or strange."

"This is it. You need to open yourself up. This is it . . . "

Then I thought of a quote from The Power of Positive Thinking, "Throw your heart over the bar and your body will follow."

So I lurched forward, and I spoke, "I've actually got a prayer request for myself. We are going on a trip in a couple of weeks and it will be the first time I've flown in a while. The last time I had to fly, I had a panic attack, and it was one of the worst things that has ever happened to me. It was awfult. It shocked me, and I didn't know why it was happening. Now I can understand it better and I'm in a much different place. I'm actually feeling more confident about this trip. But still, I need your prayers."

[Insert a flushed face and quite a few "um . . and. . . um's" in that speech.]

Sympathetic eyes were locked on me. A man looked right at me and said, "You are not alone. You are not alone in this. It is so common. You are not alone."

Then a ring of voices, "I've gone through the same thing. I know just how you feel. When is your flight? What time? We will be praying for you."

As we bowed our heads and prayed for the requests around the room, as my husband squeezed my hand, and as friends surrounded me afterwords, I kept thinking, "That was the best thing I've ever done. That was absolutely the best thing! I'm so glad I didn't listen to the devil, who wants me to be afraid; who wants me to keep it inside; who doesn't want me to share, or have fellowship, or victory. I'm so glad I threw my heart over the bar!"

I felt relief, because I shared my vulnerability in a safe space, and it was received so gently and respectfully. I had to do that first, in a small group setting, in order to have the confidence to share it here. Sharing it here feels like the next step, the brave thing that God wants me to do next.

Are you curious about my flight? 

I am happy to report that many faithful people, not just the ones in the room that night, followed up with me and let me know that they would be praying for me at 3 o'clock on Easter Sunday, when our flight left. I felt those prayers through and through, and I made it all the way (with connections!) with no problems. To say I am grateful would be the understatement of my life.

But, I am grateful. I am so grateful that I have been moved to action here. I feel like one of the many things that God has been teaching me through this anxiety journey is that I need to open up. I need to be less afraid of what people will think and more secure in how God is working. I need to let go of my former definitions of success and perfection, and cling to the reality of a beautifully messy life.

Life is wonderful. It is full of beauty, but it is also a mess! Life is not perfect. It is not always combed, straightened, or put together. It is not always poised, confident or smooth. It can be tearful and stomach-achey and blah. It can be scary, uncertain and lonely. And here is a newsflash: It is like that for everyone. 

If you are struggling with something right now, something you've only told your mom or your spouse, or no one at all because you are afraid of what they will think . . . I want you to know that there is power in prayer. Specifically, there is power in a lot of people praying for you and knowing that they are. If you've got a safe and confidential space, throw your heart over the bar and ask your friends to pray. If you don't, or if you just want one more voice going up to heaven, email me, and I promise that I will add mine to the chorus.

Just a few weeks ago, I wanted to be where I am now, but I didn't know how to get there. I'd been praying and studying and doing a lot of work. I wasn't sure where it was leading or how to apply what I was learning to my life. Then suddenly, God gave me a "now or never" time to share, and for once I wasn't too chicken to grab it. I stuttered and flustered, but I got it out and it was awesome.

It was so awesome that I'm stuttering and flustering again here now, in an effort to be obedient to God and his lessons for me: Share the weakness, let go of perfection, and help others along the way.

So, how can I pray for you? 

You may write your request in the comments and trust that others will pray as well, or you can email me privately. Either way, I'd love to hear from you. I'd also love to hear your stories of how God has helped you recognize and/or reveal something difficult, and what happened when you did.

Linking with today:

on Wednesday:

(for the first time)

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18 Responses to “Revealing Weakness”

  1. It's so awesome that you've shared this experience with us, Courtney. I'm convinced that everyone has had that same mental battle over some issue, and most of us probably have it regularly. I love the quote (and the image) of throwing my heart over the bar. Hope I can remember that one the next time I'm in that situation and my ears start ringing and my head feels like static. As for my prayer needs, I have only recently realized just how much I am stressing over the huge trip we are taking this summer to visit my sister in Los Angeles. I am just a travel weenie and that's okay - but this is an important trip and I want to enjoy it. Thanks for asking and for your prayers... I'll reciprocate whenever you need it!

  2. I love this post Courtney.  I, too, have that little voice in my head every time my Sunday School class asks for prayer requests.  I never thought of it being Satan who wants me to keep these worries and fears to myself.  Very powerful.  I will think of you when I hear that voice again and will "throw my heart over the bar."  Thank you for your words and your continued prayer for our family!!

  3. Hi Courtney I am so happy about our small group. I am a homeschooling mommy to many so I do my blogging late LOL. Thank you for the prayers and words of encouragement! I so agree with this post I think honesty in our struggles is the key to healing. SO honestly I am struggling to forgive some people that have said the wrong thing and other people that have said nothing. So that is my request that God would continue to work forgiveness in my life.

  4. Thanks for being so open! I would love your prayers for our family, especially my husband's family because his grandpa passed away on Monday. Also, I will be flying in a week and I would love prayers for peace and for God to give me a sensitivity to His Spirit if He desires to use me to be his light to anyone I sit next to. Thanks! Keep sharing your heart - I love it. And yes, we can all relate!

  5. Can I just say that I love that I heard about this in person after your flight?  I did!

  6. Megan - So glad you shared. I will be praying for you.

  7. Tesha - I'm happy about our small group, too. Forgiveness is such a hard thing. I've struggled with it myself. I will pray for you in that regard. 

  8. Absolutely, Jayda. I really do think that keeping it all in - to the point where we feel overwhelmed or alone - is Satan trying to keep us from having the fellowship that Christ intended. I'm not advocating airing all our dirty laundry everywhere, (you know I'm still a pretty private person) but I think it is important to find the right group of people, and then trust enough to open up. It was a big step for me. Love ya, Friend :)

  9. Thanks, Brandee - I will definitely call on you for prayers. Your trip is exciting, but yes - huge! I would be stressing as well. I will pray for you all to have safe and easy travels so that you can enjoy your time together. 

  10. "I
    need to be less afraid of what people will think and more secure in how God is
    working." Amen! I needed to read this today as I continue to try to figure out where this writing/blogging/storytelling life is leading me. It's so hard to just trust and let  myself be led. So you can pray that I'll find some peace and rest and fulfillment in the "not knowing" and the adventure of it. Thank you. I also like what you said about being vulnerable in a safe place. We have to feel safe first. It's the first step to revealing who we are. 

  11. Tara_pohlkottepressApril 25, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    hi small group buddy :) thank you for sharing this experience - i could not agree with you more. how important it is to be open, honest. in doing so we allow ourselves to be blessed and to bless. it's all kinds of amazing.

  12. smiles....doesnt it feel so refreshing when we are vulnerable and see people respond...its a beautiful thing...i hope that your trip goes really well....

  13. Wow! "Throwing your heart over the bar." I like that. A lot. And I love that one of your friends kept saying to you: "You are not alone." Isn't that just the best thing in all the world to hear? 

    And yes, I could use prayer. It's a lot to share here in the comment box, but would you be willing to pray for me anytime at all this weekend? You are so generous to offer that. Thank you. Truly. 

  14. It really is refreshing - perfect word. Thanks, Brian.

  15. Yes, "all kinds of amazing." Love that. Hope you have a great weekend, friend. 

  16. Hi Angie - So glad you commented. It is key to find the right group of people to open up with. I'm guilty of putting on a fake face even with good friends, but then they can't open up to me if I'm not opening up to them. We fake each other out! 

    I'll be praying for you to know exactly where to go with your writing. Your work is important and so good. 

  17. oh friend. i nearly cried when that man turned and told you "you are not alone, you are not alone." this, why i love the community of believers. we are not alone in our trials. we can lean on each other.