My entire life for years was based on this challenge. “No excuses” was what made me run five miles a day in the snow and in the 100 degree heat index. “No excuses” was what kept me up until five in the morning writing essays on a regular basis my senior year after I would get home from work. “No excuses” was what would call me out of bed in the morning after I developed a disorder that a disturbing amount of sufferers view as a death on earth sentence. (It’s called TMJ and it sucks. Also my calculus teacher started suffering with it my junior year and she disappeared in the middle of the semester and I almost failed. That is all I have to say about that.)
I got so passionate about it that I told God that I would never stay in bed because I didn’t want to face challenges. “No excuses,” was what I told Him.
Except then I had a great excuse all of a sudden, because I moved out and promptly got mono.
Even knowing that I wasn’t supposed to exercise with mono, and knowing that I was supposed to rest with mono, I hate myself for not running and I hate myself for not working and I hate myself for not having it in me to drive to the store and I hate myself for sleeping 16 hours at a time (I just woke up from a 16 hour sleep. It’s not as great as it sounds.) and I hate myself for what people think of me because of this and I hate myself for using mono as an excuse to not do everything I need to do.
So when I woke up today, having falsely believed I was getting better and then being discouraged by still feeling like death, I told God that “this is it” and to “please help me do what I can with what I have, even while I’m sick” because I’m tired of not accomplishing things for Him.
Because all of my self-confidence comes from feeling like I am pulling my weight and feeling that I am making God proud with the things I do for Him. And in being self sufficient and capable of doing everything, and more, that is expected of me. I am nothing if not productive.
“No excuses,” I told Him again.
And then ten minutes later I fell on the floor in a fetal position and stuck my face in a pillow and made noises that reminded me of a whale or a manatee and thought I had died.
Then this dang song that I heard in church was stuck in my head. Something like, “This grace on which I stand, it will hold me till the end, never failing.”
“That’s hilarious, God. Making fun of me while I’m down. Could you not give me songs about standing right now?”
And God said, “It’s not you that’s doing the work in this situation. It’s My grace. Sufficient in weakness. Tell me, just how much standing are you doing on this grace that is holding you? It seems to me that it falls on grace, not you. I don’t expect you not to fall; that’s why my never-failing grace holds you and helps you stand. This is more about trusting my ability to hold you and less about trusting your own strength to support yourself.”
And also, He loves me when I am in the fetal position and look like a manatee and I don’t have an ounce of strength left and I’m afraid. He loves me when “No excuses” doesn’t work, and He has a plan for me when I can’t see past the next five minutes.
So yes, maybe my struggles recently have done a great deal to tear down my self-confidence. But that was what it took for me to realize that it’s not about having confidence in myself, but instead trusting His grace to hold me and provide for me in spite of what I in myself am capable of.