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Grace


When they took my Titus to another room to insert the feeding tube, I felt flush all over, green. My milk wasn’t enough. The food wasn’t enough, and so they called it “starvation mode” and “failure to thrive,” his one year old body the size of a 4 month old. My tiny buddy came back with a puffy, sad face covered in tape.

After having 3 sons before him, I had decided to really do it right this time. I ate and gave only organic foods, and I wanted to nurse him for as long as I could. The truth is that my list of how to do it the right way has grown very long, and the longer that list gets, the worse I am at doing anything well. All the homeschooling, gardening, nursing, and playing in the world wouldn’t add up to enough for me.

In the hospital, I had to hold Titus’ feisty arms down so he didn’t pull out the tube. We had an intense and demanding job in that little room, and suddenly we were the needy ones. We couldn’t care for our other boys. We couldn’t water the tomatoes or go make a pot of coffee. We didn’t have any meals for ourselves or for our children at home.

And how could I ask for help, when I’m positive that I’ve failed at being a giver. One of the things I’ve been asking from God is that He would make me a servant. It’s one of those prayers I say, “I want to be better. Make me better.”

Then He answers this request in the funniest way. He allows me a position where I’m able to do nothing. Then He surrounds me with dearest friends and family, some of whom have the very least in time, physical stamina, sleep, emotional wherewithal, or material possessions. He shows me how they stop and sit with me and my children in their not-enoughness. It seems to me that those who have the very least were the greatest givers.

One friend laid next to me on the hospital bed for a while. I had no idea at the time how just having her sit right next to me helped my heart. I look back and remember our legs right there together, backs against the pillow. We were laughing. She has no idea. None of them know.

Sometimes I think about Paul’s thorn, how he must have thought to himself, “if only it were gone, I would finally be enough.” If only my milk were better. If only I read more. If only my kitchen were bigger or we made more money. If only I were better with people or were more loving or wasn’t so selfish …

But God’s response? My grace is sufficient for you.” When He says this, it’s the same as saying, “Don’t give me your excuses,” while simultaneously saying, “You’re not the one doing it anyway.”

I suddenly feel so free to shirk the pretense that I could possibly have anything together, and I’m learning that boasting in this weakness – it’s the gospel.

When we boast in our weakness, our hearts hurt for the struggles of others, and we are more willing to share even in our little. A sufficient grace makes our weaknesses our power.  The accomplishments of others begin to seem right, and whatever I receive, I accept it with gratitude.

My temptation is to say that if I nurse him more or read the Bible more or pray harder, I’ll be enough. Our temptation is always to say that our works are sufficient. But for me, let me tell you now, my marriage isn’t sufficient and nor is my house. My kids, my friends, and my insurance plans aren’t enough.

So when the mighty fall, when the rich go bankrupt, and the greatest dreams land broken, we can say to ourselves and to all the world what is true. His grace is sufficient. Power is perfected in weakness. Only after our deaths are we resurrected.

By: Amber, The Run a Muck

 

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  1. 1

    What a wonderful post! I recently wrote about how I want to “do it all” and how it doesn’t seem possible. You can see that post here http://www.townsend-house.com/2012/07/do-you-want-to-do-it-all.html I think that a lot of times we do try to do as much as we can on our own, without first leaning on God. How much easier of a time would we have if we actually went to God first?

  2. 2

    Yes yes yes. I learned the same thing (from the same teacher!) during my days in the hospital with my little one.
    Beautiful post.
    Being weak and loved… and the love is enough.
    The grace is enough.

    Emily
    http://www.weakandloved.com

  3. 3

    As someone who has trouble asking for help and “not being enough” this post was extremely encouraging (and convicting) this morning. Thank you.

  4. 4
    Jes Reffner says:

    This is beyond exactly what I needed to hear this morning…Thank you for being true to the Lord and being His mouth piece for me, Through Him all things are possible and only through Him do we receive true strength.

  5. 5

    Oh, how my heart aches for you going through that. How could you know what you wrote here is exactly what I’m struggling with right now? As I was out this morning running with my thoughts I kept thinking of how I’ve failed in so many ways recently. But now I’m hearing Him whisper in those dark places “My grace is sufficient.” You’ve ministered to me from that place. Thank you.

  6. 6

    It seems I’m not alone (after all !) in this struggle. This last year has been a season of learning the pain of inadequacy and the subsequent joy of dependence on Him. Thank you for your vulnerability, and may the Holy Spirit move a revival among women of this culture to know His great grace-sufficiency! My prayer is that we open our humble hands to His power and continue to strengthen one another with more words like yours, Amber. I’m so thankful for the beautiful way He loves and leads us.

  7. 7

    Amber, there is power and strength in these tender words here. Yes, His Grace. Yes, His Grace is sufficient. I have learned this and re=learned this and continue to have Him lovingly show me, gently teach me, THIS. Bless your family. It is a privilege to pray for you and your family. This post is a lovely gift. May Titus grow stronger every moment!!!!

  8. 8

    God seems to work upside down…long ago I prayed that prayer too…and even more specific …deal with my selfish heart…my husband is one of the most giving people i know…I fell so short…I lived with a chronic illness for 10 years…all my strength…all my discipline…all my work to achieve …was gone…I could not work…strive to gain this virtue…my hands were tied…and i cried…”I am the selfish one…I should be the one having to do it all…to give so much”…He spoke clearly…I want to circumcise your heart…not change your actions…when your heart is changed by Me…you will be my servant.
    This hard, wonderful season taught me…His love is enough…He is enough…and i no longer had to strive to be enough. I pray for a resting place in His love for you…a place you feel Him holding your son…your heart…your family. prayers to you.

  9. 9

    Oh Amber!
    I am so there! My son has a feeding tube and a list of medical equipment too. A dear friend last week spoke of ministering in weakness. Isn’t that what it’s all about! Do we really have any strength to boast of?

    Thanks for ministering to me today, in your weakness! I’m grateful for it!!!!

  10. 10
    sheeba m says:

    Just beautifully said…

  11. 11

    God shows his love for us in our weakness and especially through others who don’t seem to have the resources to give. I’m reminded that his economy of time and wealth is different than ours. I too have experienced it and the blessing is unbelievable. Like his love, it feels extravagant.
    May you experience his ALL sufficiency today. And may your little one thrive unimaginably.
    Blessings!

  12. 12

    Thank you. Just. Thank you.

  13. 13

    Thank you SO much for writing this, Amber! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and vulnerabilities.

    I really, REALLY hear what you’re saying. I felt a lot of these things when my Abbie was born. What did I do wrong? How did I cause this? We couldn’t nurse either, because of feeding issues caused by her macroglossia (large tongue). And there’s something about not being able to nurse your baby that rocks a mother to her core. It makes her doubt her mother-ness, her womanhood, and her ability to provide for and her nurture her child.

    I’m feeble in reminding myself that it’s ok to not be enough. My mouth says that none of us are ever supposed to be everything, all the time; but my head won’t believe it and my heart won’t feel it. I think I hear it better coming from someone else, so thank you for that gift today.

  14. 14
    Jacquie says:

    my heart wept.
    humble grace.
    thank you.

  15. 15

    I so needed to hear this today. My prayers are with you. In my own heart I ask the same questions… am I doing this right? am I enough? But then I realize the reason I’m so tired and exhausted is that I’m trying to do it in my own strength and not resting in Him. Thank you for this precious reminder.

  16. 16

    Your banner of words over me today.. unimaginable grace. I am praying for you, your amazing heart and spirit and for that sweet boy. Prayers of enough, raw and abundant mercy and grace over you and yours. Love you so.

  17. 17

    Thank you for these words this morning . . . a good start to a Monday.

  18. 18

    His desire for us and our messy selves is overwhelming and when we cry out asking how we can serve Him best, He shows us in our weakness His love and mercy and grace through those around us. I’m praying for you and for your bare heart and your sweet Titus.

  19. 19

    What a horrific experience, but I’m glad there was something positive to be learned from it. You son is fine now?

  20. 20

    What a beautiful post, but I’m so sorry for your struggles. What a blessing that you have loved ones to help.

  21. 21

    Extraordinary grace and beauty in this time of trial, my friend. Loving you. Praying for you. Thinking beautiful thoughts of you, your family and that sweet, darling boy.

  22. 22

    Oh Amber….this is just….awe-filled stunningness. I know that’s not a word…but that is exactly what this is. This truth the Spirit of our Holy God gave you to speak. Sister-friend…thank you. Thank you for being obedient to speak when He instructed. To be vulnerable when He asked. To pour truth out when glossiness would have been so much easier.

    You wrenched my heart. You allowed Him to move in such a way. All I can say is AMEN.

  23. 23

    Praying, dear friend. Wish I could materialize outside your door but perhaps the Holy Spirit will arrange for a few wise folks in my stead.

  24. 24
    Jessica Y says:

    Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. How I love thee.

  25. 25

    *tears*

  26. 26

    Amber, it’s been way too long since I’ve checked in with you. You are not alone. We all hurt–different hurts at different times–but still. His grace IS sufficient, and often his grace flows out of the most unexpected places.

  27. 27

    Beautifully written. Thank you, thank you.

  28. 28
    Amber Kemp says:

    I read this, this morning, it’s beautiful. Spoke to my heart. <3 Thank you for sharing.

  29. 29
    Beth Williams says:

    Thank you for a heart warming post today! I struggle ever so much with not being enough, doing enough, etc. One lesson I have learned quickly is that those with little seem to be able to do much. They help others with little.

    Praying for you and your family in this situation! Only by the Grace of God are we enough@

  30. 30

    Thank you so much for sharing this wisdom revealed. I’m recovering from surgery and gratefully accepting help, though it is hard to not feel unworthy. Prayers to you.

  31. 31

    Wishing you the strength to let go of everything but what is needed and what is true.
    xo

  32. 32

    this belief that i can do “it” – is the lie that kills me. leaning on that grace, why is it so hard?

  33. 33

    Wow. This was so good. I wish I could have read this in the midst of our own crisis. I will be passing this along on my blog. Thank you!

  34. 34
    Brandy Moore says:

    This is so beautiful what a wonderful post and reminder! God Bless!

  35. 35

    Much needed wisdom & truth for this moment & tomorrow too. A year ago, they wheeled my 7-year old through those doors where Moms aren’t allowed to hug, hold & protect. I so empathize with your thoughts & outcries. Grateful for grace that abounds from the One who hears & sees & loves you all so much. Praying for you.

  36. 36

    Oh my. Just aching for you and feeling with you that feeling of failure and not being enough. It is the truth that we are meant to be weak and there is power in weakness, God’s foolishness wiser than our wisdom, grace sufficient. I know in my head that this is true but my heart has such a hard time accepting it. I see such grace and beauty and Jesus in this post. Your story today has made me feel more courageous to be weak and not ashamed. I pray that you will know God’s sustaining love and really, really know his grace, sufficient for you.

  37. 37

    “My grace is sufficient for you.” When He says this, it’s the same as saying, “Don’t give me your excuses,” while simultaneously saying, “You’re not the one doing it anyway.”

    What freedom!

  38. 38
    Rochelle Dunsbergen says:

    So much of what you said resounded deeply within me. I’ve had the same fears, the same questions, the same doubts. Such a good word. Thank you for sharing!

  39. 39

    Jesus makes us enough. One thing I’ve learned is that nothing we do in in of ourselves is enough, only Jesus makes us whole. Thanks for reminding me of that :) .

  40. 40

    A hurting soul is not afraid of another hurting soul. Time and again I have seen it is those who are hurting in whatever way that may be, health, trauma, depression, finances, grief and so on, who reach out to those who are in trouble or suffering. His grace is sufficient, thank you, it is something we all need to be reminded of in our struggles.

    http://BhindTheSmile.blogspot.com

  41. 41

    Love you so. We are holding you and that Titus and your Seth and the big boys very close, lifting up so many prayers.

  42. 42

    well amber, as you’d probably guess by my moniker, there is so much that i can relate to here. in fact, the latest post i shared on my blog is called, “for when you have nothing left to give.” the 2 cor. 12 journey is often a painful one, but oh, the freedom that awaits.

    thank you so much for sharing truth amidst your heartache.

    blessings to you & yours,
    tanya

  43. 43

    the wonder of grace of God and giving jsut because of love and becasue there is a need never ceases to amaze me. I remember asking a neighbor for help during a troubled pregnancy and telling her I have no way to repay you and she said yes you do, when some needs you be there. A gift from God. Thank you for sharing your story.

  44. 44

    Beautiful. I had to read it again- so powerful!!!!! I have a sign in my kitchen “I am enough”. Meaning that what I have to give is enough for me to give. But I love the idea that not being enough is okay, too. Thank you for sharing your inspiration with us.

  45. 45

    A hurting soul is not afraid of another hurting soul. That is what I have learned in my experience. It is those who have suffered whether that be through loss, health, finance and so on, who come along side those who find them selves in hard, painful, questioning places. Thank you for reminding us that God’s grace is good enough, I think we all need to be reminded of that at times.

    BhindTheSmile.blogspot.com

  46. 46
    Katherine R. says:

    I’d really like to share with you about one of my best friends in the world. His name is Zach and at birth the doctors labeled him “failure to thrive” he was, in the medical world, incapable of living. He was allergic to everything you could think of and was way underweight for a long time…. BUT GOD, in his sovereignty, healed Zach amidst it all as he don’t let the label determine his life path. He is now married with two beautiful children and the youth pastor for fa mega church is Georia. Through his weakness, God made him strong and used his testimony to change lives for Jesus around the world. I will be praying for your son and your family, that God too would raise him up to e a leader in his Kingdom!

  47. 47

    This:
    “When we boast in our weakness, our hearts hurt for the struggles of others, and we are more willing to share even in our little. A sufficient grace makes our weaknesses our power. ”

    I love you… I am praying right now.
    I wish I could sit there and laugh with you and Seth and read books to the boys…
    Christ holds.

  48. 48

    ALL, every last one of you, I can’t tell you how much you’ve blessed me. I keep coming here and reading these encouraging comments. Thank you, truly, for the advice and links, too. Thank you for sharing your stories. Thank you for the emails and Facebook messages.

    We’re in Little Rock at Arkansas CHildren’s Hospital with Titus now. He’s not doing well, but the doctors here are insane wonderful, and I’m confident we’re going to get to the bottom of this.

    I’m about to write a little update on my blog tonight. Thank you always for coming here to incourage. You are big in my heart. Thank you thank you.

  49. 49

    Here in the middle of the night my prayers are with you. Normally I’m the strong, giving one. Recently I walked through my own journey with cancer, and now it’s my husband. It’s hard when you really need help. But I’ve expereinced so much of God’s incredible love and mercy poured out through my friends and complete strangers who have been there for me in ways I couldn’t even imagine. I’m so thankful that you have friends who will climb right in bed… right in the midst of the pain and the fear and uncertainty that comes with a medical crisis… and they will be His hands and heart to you. Thank you for sharing your life with us in the midst of your journey. May God hold you all in the hollow of His hand, and give you and the doctors wisdom, and strength and a supernatural peace.

  50. 50

    Miss Amber,

    May the good Lord bless you as you continue to shine His light. Being drenched in prayers, both from strangers and folks you know, and accepting His provision in the way of others stepping into the gap(s) – threads us all closer as the body of Christ.

    Thank you for sharing your story and for miss Emily W. for the FB link.

    In Christ,
    Blessings.

  51. 51

    Amber! Praying for your sweet one. For all of you. God will get you through! My fourth is a runt, too. They wanted to give him a blood test for anemia because of his weight last week. I’m trusting God and praying harder, and feeding him everything he will eat! ;)

  52. 52
    Anonymous says:

    Beautiful….. just beautiful!

  53. 53

    Tears are running down my face, and my arms are aching to hug you, sister I don’t know.

  54. 54

    Amber, I don’t know you, but I love your heart. I grieve with you over my not being “enough”to my loved ones in my own life. I grieve for you seeing your little son not thriving. I grieve for my young friends who just lost their two month old to sudden infant death syndrome. I grieve for my own son so far away from the Father. I grieve for the suffering families and victims in Aurora, CO. I grieve for our friends in East Africa whose lives are often so tenuous…all illusions of control stripped away. “But God…” His grace is sufficient in our weakness, in our grief, our loss, our suffering. A young friend of mine whose sufferings are mounting always signs her blog entries, “Our hope remains.” May God increase your hope in Him even while those of us pray for you, dear Amber.

  55. 55
    Leslie Hancock says:

    Amber,
    The Lord has little Titus so stamped upon our hearts these several days; waking up in the middle of the night, praying for him, you and Seth, your family. We are so encouraged in the Lord as He is comforting, strengthening, and sustaining you. Brought to tears when we think of your son, too young to understand anything; in God’s hands; Yes, “Be merciful unto me O God, be merciful, for my soul trusts in You. Yea, ‘neath the our shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge until these calamities be overpast.” I picture Titus, indeed, safe under the ‘shadow’ of His wings, drawn close, protected.

    Leslie Hancock (Lindsey’s mother)

  56. 56

    Your message is really encouraging. I totally relate to you. I am going through the same thing with my daughter at the moment. She has had all the tests. Is fed through a tube and one high calorie milk and vomits. Is in and out of hospital. It’s been a real struggle and I identify with how you feel. Knowing that God is there helping me is helping me too. It’s nice to know that someone else out there knows how I feel.
    Thanks

  57. 57

    Oh Amber, amen to this. To be able to say his grace is sufficient, and to know love from the gifts of others to you. One day we will see him face to face and this ache will meet fulfilment in him. Bless you and your family.

  58. 58

    What a joyous lessons in living in his faith, word and promise! Thru Jesus Christ all will be as it is suppose to be! Living by his word is a task placed upon us by our father, difficult to honor and blessed when achieved! How precious his glory! Thank you for this awesome post.

  59. 59

    His power in our weakness is beautiful! I have come face to face with the same truth this week & all I can do is praise Him!!!
    You bless me.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] was a heart-breaking blog I read of a mother whose youngest was hospitalized and she was feeling not enough. Less than. Less [...]

  2. [...] This post on “why it’s okay to not be enough” is one of the best things I’ve read on God’s power in our weakness. (And it was inspired by the same verse we were meditating on last week with She Reads Truth). Do any of you read (in)courage? I love this website, and I feel like I learn so much about life from women I don’t even know. [...]

  3. [...] But pray. Pray specifically, for Amber and Seth and Titus. [...]

  4. [...] Why It’s Okay to Not Be Enough | InCourage via @AmberRunsamuck [...]

  5. [...] Why It’s Ok Not To Be Enough @ (in)Courage {“A sufficient grace makes our weaknesses our power.”  Amen.  It does indeed!} [...]