Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Weakness


I’m going to be honest with you.

I’ve been feeling frustrated lately.

With myself, with circumstances, with the blog.

But mostly with myself. I feel inadequate and insufficient.

Scattered, unorganized. Tired. Weak. Inept.

Carrying around a perpetual headache.

There are about 9 recent unfinished blog posts in my Documents. I feel compelled to write about many things that are pressing on my heart. I frantically try to get the words down before time runs out. Time runs out. After I’ve dealt with a day’s worth of distractions, I return and stare at the half-finished page, but the words won’t come. Half-finished conversations wait for me, but the fire is gone. Or other words beg to interrupt. So I start a new topic, only to quit midstream again.

Great posts are written in my head on the highway. They never make it out of the car. Please don’t tell me to dictate them into my Iphone or something. I’m already quite a menace on the roads. I have to concentrate or I’ll forget where I’m going.

I’m disappointed. I had such great expectations of the new blog, but it’s not how I envisioned it. I promised you that there would be both more substance and more trivia… more range… but it just seems like the same old stuff. Me, holding on by the seat of my pants. Telling you stories from my everyday life. Stuck in a holding pattern. Just keeping on keeping on.

I’d planned on learning more skills. How to make it slicker, more professional, polished. But it still looks like the Amateur Hour. Technology Instruction just isn’t high on the list of priorities right now.

The feeling of inadequacy is not limited to my blog writing. It spills over into most areas of my life.

I start listening (a little) to those negative interior voices. What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you get it together?

Last week, I had a lot of intense interaction with friends in the middle of major traumas. The issues included a life-destroying chemical addiction, job loss, an incurable debilitating disease, marital meltdown, severe depression, and complete financial collapse. (As in no money for groceries.) Other friends confided stories of children in deep trouble and parents in major crisis… some at the same time. (I laughed with one old friend that if we’re the Sandwich Generation, I feel like a piece of bologna right now. With no mayonnaise, she added.)

I’ve found myself in a rather strange position. Being an earthquake survivor evidently gives one the appearance of authority. It seems that people look upon me now as some kind of survival expert. Someone who can provide answers to unanswerable questions.

But I’m still the same old me. Weak and wavering. Fighting my way to faith one day at a time. Climbing up the mountaintop, only to slip on some rocks and slide back down a little each time I’ve made headway.

It makes me feel self-conscious. Almost like a fraud.

I tried my best to transmit hope into the situations that were laid before me last week. But the words tasted stale in my mouth, and sounded hollow coming out. The needs are overwhelming. The issues huge. Too big for me.

That old desire to fix things came briefly back to the surface.

But I felt helpless to help.

Inadequate. Weak. Discouraged. Drained.

I told them I would pray.


Finally, I high-tailed it to church to get some prayer myself.

And I remembered something:

God has always used my inadequacies more than my strengths.


It’s funny.  Some of my closest friends don’t (can’t/won’t) read these weird ramblings of mine. A couple are even mad about it. But others, people I never would have imagined reading, do. And some of those people have encouraged me this week.

The blog isn’t what I want it to be. I’m not writing about the things I most want to write about. Instead of quoting Tolstoy, I’m talking about potty training. Rather than discussing C. S. Lewis’s use of allegory, I’m telling you about how I barely restrained myself from road-rage retaliation. There is no rhyme or reason. No thematic consistency. I still haven’t even managed to get a good Books List up yet.

But.

In spite of the way I feel about it, something is happening. Posts I’ve felt were the least inspired have evidently spoken to some people where they are.

I thank you for telling me that. For reminding me that it’s not about me. That God uses His servants any way He sees fit. In spite of ourselves. Often times, when we’re not even aware we are being used.

I felt that I had nothing to give those friends in need. Except for prayer.

Thank God I had nothing else to give them. What paltry offering of my own wisdom or compassion could compare with the powerful riches that come from the prayers of an empty vessel?

Thank God that I have felt inadequate, insufficient, scattered, and frustrated. Thank God that I felt as if I had nothing left to offer. Nothing left to say.

For I have been reminded that

when I am weak, I am strong.

when I am depleted, I am rich.

when I have nothing, I have everything.


I already have everything I need.


***************


“But he said to me, "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.” (II Corinthians 12: 9-10)

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

your blog is the ONLY blog i check faithfully everyday. everyone i know has a blog. yours is my favorite. and i am picky. don't get discouraged. or if you need to sit in that place of discouragement for a bit, go ahead but then do that thing where you remember you are weak but HE is strong and get back at it. no one cares about lewis' use of allegory anyway. we've all read him. we want to read you.
love, michelle

Allison said...

Honestly, If you wrote about Tolstoy, I would probably skip reading. Sad but true. I love how you write. I love how you open up about real life. Your faults. Your insecurities. Your desires. THAT is what draws me to your blog. But, mainly that you love Jesus.

I saw Paula Reinhart speak at a Young Life camp a few weeks ago. She talked about not carrying around others peoples napsacks. I am one to want to fix everything. Bad. But, I have to remember that I was not created to carry other's napsacks. Jesus does that. So, I have to make the decision to give those napsacks (mine included) to Him. Casting burdens onto Him is His specialty.)

Keep it up. Keep your chin up and know that you are a vessel for the Lord. Keep your eye on the Prize:)

love,
allison

from my front porch... said...

Your blog is your home to write about whatever you feel the need to!
Writing about your daily life is what you know. And I write about mine! And what comes together for us in this world of blogs, is that we find others who are like us. Or not.
I had the most wonderful email over the weekend. With the writers permission I printed it on my blog.
Mostly my blog is happy, little place where I share my complete and utter love for God's creatures. Our horses, dogs, and cats. I never imagined the little blog would touch someone like it has for my reader who emailed me.

Two years ago she lost her husband and only child within 6 months. I cannot even begin to fathom this. Somewhere along the way she found my blog. She read something that God lead me to write about last year and became inspired! I most certainly had NOTHING to do with this. God had everything to do with it!!!
I guess where I am going with this is maybe you are right where you need to be, Kim. Because you never know what God will lead you to do. Or who God will point in your direction.

Tolstoy?
Nah!
I just wanna read kim Arnold!

And to those who are mad because you are exposing your life etc., I believe it just makes some people uncomfortable to read about another persons honesty in dealing with life. It brings things *Home* And many souls walking this earth would rather perpetuate the image of being perfect. Reading another's honest posts about self doubt and flaws? Well, that can make a person take a good look at themselves. And sometimes it isn't pretty! It is downright uncomfortable.

xo, misha

Susan said...

Kim, how you touch my heart with your blog. It may not be the blog you dreamed of, but it is the blog that meets SO many needs - mine, mine, and mine especially. Just being willing to be used in such a special way makes your blog even better. Keep writing exactly like you write and don't worry about the subject. (By the way, how IS potty training progressing?) I FAITHFULLY follow your blog. You are not supposed to fix things for us and have all the answers. Each year a part of my job is to help folks identify the major issues facing children in the community. And I tell them every year that just because I know what the problems are and can put them into words does not mean that I know how to fix them! And, if you write about Tolstoy, I will still read it, but I don't think I want to. The everyday adventures of your life is what I love to hear about - your struggles, and triumphas and revelations. And, yes, your love for Jesus and a willingness to be used by Him. Do not be too hard on yourself. You are amazing and don't even know it.
The posts that end up making it all the way to the blog - well, those are the right ones. Really.

Anonymous said...

The previous comments say EXACTLY what I wanted to write to you. You Kim Arnold, have impacted my life each and every time I come here! I agree, we don't want to read about Tolstoy, we want to read about you. Your real and I admire real! Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. You are a shining beacon doing just what your doing....isn't it cool how he uses us, we think it isn't exactly what we should or could do 'for Him' and he says, "Just do what is in front of you". AND He uses it BIG time! Today's post like all the others is incredible! Love, Karen

emily said...

the reasons you feel so inadequate are the very reasons i have read your blog for the past couple of years. your posts, like this - that just talk about you, your life, struggles, observations always speak to me so profoundly. i end up reading them again and again. you always seem to find the words i can't. thank you

Corinne said...

I'm left a little speechless from this post... so raw and honest. It's much, much appreciated...

Trish said...

I check your blog EVERY day. Your blog gets me going and keeps me going. I think if it were meant to be easy, we would all do it! God is laying these messages on your heart to tell us because only you can tell it the right way. See? that's why I'm not writing a blog!!! I've shared your blog with so many friends and family. thank you for all that do. and I am praying for you.

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog - what makes it so wonderful is that it is so scattered and full of real life moments - I don't post often but I look everyday for a new blog. Please don't stop!

Anonymous said...

This post is EXACTLY where I am today. Different circumstances, different details, but over the course of this morning, I have gone from saying the same things about myself that you say about yourself to recognizing the exact same thing about God that you recognize: "God has always used my inadequacies more than my strengths.” Reading this entry was conformation that I have, indeed, heard and understood HIm correctly today as he speaks to my heart. I have grown frustrated with and stopped reading various blogs, particularly one blog that paints such a rosy picture of what a Christian woman’s life should look like that I leave feeling frustrated and inadequate rather than inspired. I have, however, stuck with your writing since your very first blog entry following Katherine’s stroke. You are real, and your relationship with God is real. You have inspired me many times, but as I think about it, here’s why: You share, on a regular basis, your sadness, fears, frustrations, joys, questions, self-doubt, even sin. But you always come back to God’s word, the truth of the Gospel, and some pretty amazing anecdotes of His actions in your life. In short, you tell the real story: We are weak and sinful people living in a weak and sinful world. But God is good. And that’s where our hope lies. Thank you.

Erica

Carrie said...

Kim,

I love your blog! I don't get a chance to comment as often as I would like to, but your posts are always good and honest. Everyone appreciates that! I feel like so many time people are not honest enough about what's going on in their lives. I don't even know you but have been following this blog this the beginning and I check it all the time. It's the only one I check consistently. I pray for you and your family all the time. Keep posting, I look forward to them.

Carrie

Ann said...

All I know for sure just how very much your blog means to so so many people. My daughter and I have a code-she sends in an email to me "Margery" or I send the same to her-whoever knows first and it means get on your blog; you have written a new post. We LOVE you...we are Montgomerians so we feel such a connection with you...so please know you touch lives EVERYDAY. You and your gift of expression are loved....and God is definitely using you.

Donna said...

I only follow two blogs faithfully which are nienie's and yours! I check your blog every day and look forward more to the random postings that relate to everyday life (road rage and potty training, etc.) as opposed to quotes from Tolstoy or other subjects. Please don't get discouraged or feel obligated to have to post every day. Take a break (just a short one because we will miss you) then come back. You have impacted so many lives, including mine, and I feel like we are all girlfriends that can share our thoughts, struggles, victories and our love for Jesus!

Anonymous said...

Actually, I have quoted the "not an option" line so many times this week it is almost funny. I read "Lit" as the result of your book list (I never read books) and now, for the first time, I feel I have more compassion and insight for my sister in that situation. I treasured the blog comparing your neighbors. I cried when I related to how you felt after reading Katherine's post on James's potty training. It is a great blog for real people. Keep it up.

The Retarded Mother said...

Oh you dear woman/writer/wife/mother/sister/
daughter/friend:
Gosh I really hear you.
Take care of yourself.
We are all here even if you go away for a while. We'll all still be here. This is real life.
We're already connected. Your blog has already changed lives. Even if you never write another word, (you will after you rest some), your words have opened up hearts, souls, minds. Believe it.
I am sending you love.
Marianne

The Mom said...

I appreciate your honesty, your depth, and the beauty of your faith. I say beauty because it is real, transparent and tangible. I , for one, need less intellectual or theological supposition and more of a real woman as she struggles to apprehend the tender mercies of a God who may not always seem near. Thank you for sharing your heart.

Erin M. said...

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Sometimes the weakness can feel overwhelming. Glad he uses it for good.

Karen said...

always good even when you are complaining you aren't good enough-

Anonymous said...

Isn't it funny that we are all so different and also the same?! All of us are still struggling with the inadequacies of our elementary school years and dealing with the new inadequacies of our adult years. Some of my problems are the same as yours, and some of mine are different. I also spend my days keeping my grandson who is almost 3, and my husband and I are also the caregivers for his parents who are in the late stages of alzheimer's . Each day we breathe and deal with the struggles of that day. My husband calls it "fighting the fire of the day". That is why I enjoy reading what you have to say Kim, because I don't need answers, there really aren't any answers. It just helps to know that we are not alone. The one thing that has blessed me the most in the midst of what we are going through is the prayer that my precious husband prays every day..."God, I am not asking you to make my journey easier, I am only asking you to give me what I need for today"... Thanks for writing...It blesses me!
Love, Janice

becky said...

“Jesus understood unfinishedness very well, which is why he was comfortable leaving eleven unfinished disciples. When he died, the disciples were confused, depressed, afraid, and doubtful. They faced a lifetime of finishing, just like you and me. Messy spirituality not only reminds us we will always be a work in progress; it also reminds us that the unfinished life is a lot more spiritual than we imagined.”
(M. Yaconelli)
Love your blog and keep at it - from a fellow unfinished sister
becky weber - falls lchurch, va

Anonymous said...

Dear, dear, Kim!!
As so many have shared, your words resonate because of your honesty, authenticity and vulnerability to go deeper. We have a world that only looks at the surface - the white picket fence. And their platitudes don't ring true with us because they stop short of addressing the deeper stuff that is truly life. You go deep - and for that I am so thankful - beyond words thankful!!

As some have indicated, I could read so many other blogs that stay on the surface, but they don't reach the deep places of my heart that your writing does. We who blog I believe all have some desire to make some profound difference in others' lives. So we may think that discussing the likes of Tolstoy or others might be relevant (and maybe there will be some time when an apt quote will make the appropriate point). But what draws us all (and I think I can safely say this on behalf of others), is you are real and your honest musings are making a profound difference in our lives. Because we can all identify with one post or another in some way. And that's what our Lord and Savior has asked us to do - simply open our lives and share the places of our feable attempts to live this life with great honesty so others will find hope for their struggles. As we are faithful to do so then others see Him.

Some day you will get back to the unfinished drafts (I have a dozen or so myself) and I look forward to them, but only when the time is right. Until that time, we are all unfinished. Yet we can take great encouragement that our Savior declared "it is finished" from the cross.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for staying the course and sharing your heart with us!!

Blessings to you today and every day!!

L

Anonymous said...

hmmm sometimes I check your blog a *few* times a day and I always get excited to see something new. Not sure what you had intended this blog to be, but I see 20+ comments before mine who all say how much we are inspired/encouraged/ challenged/brought to tears/laughter/introspection etc etc etc by what you are writing here. I too have used the phrase "not an option" in dealing with a particulaly difficult person. You have permission to get down in the dumps- just dont stay there too long!
Love Blair

Rebecca said...

Hi Kim,
I love your blog and probably wouldn't if it were full of fancy book discussions :)

Your blog on Blessers vs Bleeders has really stuck with me lately, I even shared it with our pastor and he acted like it was something new to him so I thought that was cool!

Keep going and don't let Satan steal your joy. Rejoice!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. Your blog is my favorite, and if you write about Tolstoy I will still read it!

Jeannie said...

Jennifer Kennedy Dean has a powerful Bible study "Living a Praying Life". I read your blog and then began to study this week's assignment. On page 83, she shares - "The Potter needs clay that is soft and yielded. It is the Potter's hands you feel shaping you - squeezing, pushing, pinching. He knows exactly what he is doing. You can entrust yourself to Him without fear or reservation. Your work is just to surrender. Be transformed."
Letting go has been some of the hardest work I have ever done. I know how to worry, fret, complain, beg, resist, panic, bargain, cajole, and basically tell God what to do. Admitting weakness and surrendering to it is much tougher. That is the only way that he can mold me. Why do I fight it ? Thanks for exposing your weaknesses -- you give me courage to expose mine.
Love,
Jeannie

Kim Arnold said...

This is the fifth or sixth reference I've heard to the potter and the clay THIS WEEK!

Do you think someone is trying to tell me something???

allison guyer said...

kim,
this is one of the best blog entries you have ever had. Honesty shines right through and we can all relate. I am struggling with a feeling of inadequacy as well. I am leading a women's small group and so excited about it, yet already feeling like I am weak and letting the negative voices take over, questioning whether I am really good enough to carry out this task.
I believe God will enable me, yet my anxieties love to hold me down. I am not afraid to admit, I am weak. But I am thankful God restores us all.

Your words fall on hopeful ears. thank you.
love, allison