I know what it's like to hurt in ministry. I know what it's like to shrink back from the call of God on your life because you can't trust people anymore, and you can't take a chance on getting hurt one more time. No one really talks about this because of fear, or shame, or that we think it is somehow our own fault. I wrote Perfectly Weak* to put that hurt and fear out there. And although it scares the pants off of me to be vulnerable and share my own hurts and weaknesses, I want to so that no one is alone in it anymore. If I can help one person by sharing my story, then it is worth it. My sole motive in writing this book was to help. To help someone who has given up, is trapped in fear, or feels alone and hurt. I want to help us all live perfectly weak together--trusting Him with our wounds and our stories and resting in his grace that is sufficient and power that is made perfect in our weaknesses.
Much love to all of you out there in the trenches shining your beautiful light for Him. You are not alone. Let me share an excerpt from Perfectly Weak with you today.
There’s a lot of pressure on ministry wives to be all things to all people, and to never mess up or make a mistake. Leading puts you in the position to have all of your strengths and weaknesses on display. Through the ups and downs of ministry life, I have found myself on the ugly side of criticism and wounds many times over the last 18 years—as I am sure you have, too. Those kinds of wounds are not easily forgotten, and can cause us to step back—way back and hide. Hide from people and from ministry to avoid the pain. I know I did that. About 10 years into ministry, I decided I had enough and I withdrew. As I withdrew, I dug myself into a pit and hid. Inside that pit I did not find safety and refuge, but I found fear. I found myself wallowing in all the hurt, and coddling the fear. After I allowed God back into my mess of hurt and fear, I had a lot of ground to recover in my own heart and mind. I had to begin to obey Him again, and step out and take risks as I put my heart out there again.
As I began to step out and obey God, I was keenly aware that I had so many weaknesses. My experiences in the past and my new willingness to take a risk for God exposed all the areas in which I felt vulnerable. I felt like the least equipped person to do what God was asking of me, and still do at times. I was so focused on all the things I was not good at as a pastor’s wife, and I tended to be nervous and timid. I didn’t have that bubbly personality that commands attention when I entered a room.
I could only see everything I wasn’t, instead of seeing all of what God is.
While being focused on all that I couldn’t do, I was missing out on all the God could do in me. As I, ever so slightly, stepped out in faith and actually did what He’d asked me to do, He started showing me what He could do. I continued feeling weak and fearful as God kept asking me to do the things I didn’t think I could do. I kept asking Him, “Why me? Why did you choose me?” Finally, God answered and said, "Because you said yes. Because you were willing."
God doesn’t need our expertise. He needs our willingness to obey. To do what He asks us to do. He needs people who are willing to follow His dream even when that plan doesn’t seem like much of a dream at all. He does not ask us to be over-the-top talented, gifted, and confident. He just needs willing hearts.
See, I thought that if God was calling me to do all these things that I wasn’t good at, or afraid of, or that I was too weak for, that He would take away my weaknesses and make me good at those things He was asking me to do. That wasn’t what happened. He pointed me back to the verses in 2nd Corinthians 12:9-10 that I lean on so much, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I really loved the first and last part of those words, but I was mumbling through and skipping over the part about “…I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why I delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties, because when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 9b-10) I realized that I had to be able to step out in areas in which I feel weak, untalented, and not good at and allow God’s strength to be made perfect in my weakness. I had to learn to obey, even if I feel weak. Even if God asks me to do something that I think I can’t do. Even if I don’t know how, and it makes me scared.
When we step out in weakness, that’s when God’s strength kicks in. That’s when Christ’s power rests on us. That’s the perfect place to be with God—operating in His power and His strength, not our own. Each step I took, God caught me, held me in His hands, and let His strength carry me.
God doesn’t want a different you, or a different me. He made each of us, weaknesses and all, just the way He wanted us. When we yield all that we are to Him, weaknesses included, He takes what we aren’t and fills us with what He is. His call to us is an invitation to surrender everything. Our strengths—which really are no strengths at all—and our weaknesses—which really are no hindrances at all—and delight in how He made us to walk in His Grace and His Power. He won’t accomplish His will in our lives by making us different people. Rather, He will empower us to do His will through His grace and strength. He wants us to exchange our weakness for His strength. By stepping out in obedience, I learned to delight in my weakness and acknowledge that I needed Him in those weaknesses. I said to Him “I can’t, but I know you can".
I had to learn to live perfectly weak.
*Graves, Casey. Perfectly Weak, Hear My Heart Publishing. 2016. Print.
Casey Graves is a wife, momma to two girls, and co-pastor/planter of Foundations Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She enjoys a good cup of coffee with a friend or a family date day when she finds some spare time. Casey recently published her first book, Perfectly Weak, launching on Monday, June 6, 2016, and blogs at We Are Perfectly Weak.