Today we’re celebrating with (in)courage co-founder and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Holley Gerth as she releases a new devotional, Hope Your Heart Needs: 52 Encouraging Reminders of How God Cares for You. It’s a little book that’s big on encouragement. Enjoy the excerpt below — it will make you laugh, maybe cry, and want to find some waffle fries!
Crumpled tissues create a fortress in front of me, flanked by medicine bottles. I’m behind them, slumped down, surrendering to sleep at last. My husband comes into the room and says something. I struggle to hear, to process through the fog. But I miss what he’s trying to express entirely. Instead, I misunderstand. I snap. Angry words. Then tears. A retreat to our bedroom. A slammed door. I’m a crazy woman, out of my mind. What am I doing? What am I saying?
I don’t trust myself to calm down or behave. So, still in my pajamas, I grab my purse and walk out the door. I back up the car and then sit in the street, unsure of where to go, what to do. I’d likely give our entire town the plague if I entered a public space, and besides, I don’t feel well enough to take another step.
Then a moment of pure southern inspiration: my vehicle begins the familiar journey to the Chick-fil-A drive-through. I get my waffle fries and a diet Dr. Pepper, effective as any prescription. I pull into the final row of the parking lot.
I call my friend and say something like, “I had an epic meltdown and I can’t calm myself down and I’m in the parking lot in my pajamas eating fries.” She tries to understand me between bites and might have stifled a giggle before she tells me this is not the end of the world and, no, I am not the worst human ever.
She convinces me to go home. “Sleep,” she says. “Sleep and then work it out.” I walk back through the door of my house, repentant and exhausted. I crawl under the covers and wake three hours later. I go to our living room, to the mama-bear red couch. I sit on it and wait, unsure of how to proceed. My husband comes out from his office and eyes me warily, as one might a normally docile pet who has recently taken up biting. I pat the couch to let him know it’s safe. He sits beside me and the tears come — a river, a flood. “I’m sorry,” I say. “I’m so sorry.”
Surely he’s going to reprimand me. He’s going to tell me all I’ve done wrong not just today but in all our marriage. He’s going to make me feel the shame I deserve. I am ready. I have it coming. But instead my husband looks at me, puts his arm around my shoulders, and says only, “None of us are at our best all the time.” This is it. All he offers. The end. I lean into his shoulder and I almost can’t receive it.
But then somehow I do, and I feel loved, so loved, in a deeper way than I even do in my best moments. Because in those I-have-it-all-together times, it can seem as if somehow I have earned the affection and the accolades and the acceptance. But I know, with my messed up hair and messed up words and cough-syrup stains, that I’ve got nothing to offer just then. Not a thing.
I think of Jesus and how He knows what’s true about us too — that we are not always at our best. We act as if He will be shocked and surprised and dismayed when we fail or falter. But hasn’t He known what we are capable of all along? Isn’t this why He came? And when we come to Him in that state, broken and sick, sorry and hurting, He doesn’t offer condemnation. He offers compassion. “It is finished,” He said on the cross. It is over. It is done. You are forgiven.
I hope I never end up eating waffle fries quite like that again (they taste better with ketchup than shame). And I hope you never follow my greasy-fingered example. But we are human, you see, and if we find ourselves in such a situation, at least now we know more about what to do. We’ll know we can go, right away, still in our pajamas and holding our tissues, to the God who loves us. The One who has seen us at our worst and still, always, loves us best.
If you’d like more encouragement like this, order Hope Your Heart Needs today (it would make a great Christmas gift for all the women on your list!). When you do, you’ll also receive access to an exclusive, limited-time only, bonus ebook from Holley called Hope for the Holidays.
He is the God who loves us, the One who has seen us at our worst and still, always, loves us best. - @holleygerth: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
What a wonderful loving husband – being the hands and feet, and even the hugging arm of Jesus. For those of us who strive especially hard to do our best all of the time….that’s a tough pace to maintain. Eventually something or someone will take us down, and Oh how thankful I am that the loving arm of Jesus is right there to pick me up and say,”It is done. It is finished. You are forgiven. Go easy on yourself. I love you. Now go in peace and walk in freedom.” Jesus’ has incredibly more healing balm than waffle fries…though every so often we need our waffle fries.” Great post and all the best on your book release….I have many of your books – all terrific 🙂
Beth Williams says
Most fights in my house are over stupid stuff. Usually one of us is tired or stressed out. We say stupid things & then like you I cry my eyes out, slam a door sometimes & go to bed. Usually my hubby will find me, give me a hug & apologize. We talk a bit. I apologize for something stupid I did or may have said. Times like that I feel “stupid, dumb, less worthy of love”. Jesus doesn’t say that. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He brings His healing to us & says “I will always love you no matter what”. “Please forgive him – he’s just tired”. It’s wonderful that God can quickly forgive us & yet we can’t seems to forgive ourselves for what was said or done? We tend to be hard on ourselves. Next time I may go get waffle fries in my PJs.
Blessings on the new book. I pray it helps many woman.
Kathy Cheek, Devotions from the Heart says
In my own moments of self-loathing for what I have done, I remember Romans 1:8 and the grace in those words free me, No Condemnation…
Kathy Cheek, Devotions from the Heart says
I meant Romans 8:1!
Holley Gerth says
So grateful for grace, all of you reading and reassuring me I’m not the only one things like this ever happen to! 🙂
Just beautiful. I can so relate to this. Thank you for sharing and for the wonderful reminder of amazing grace. ❤️
You are awesome!! This is so funny and encouraging! I read it right after finishing my Chick fil-a waffle fries!!!
Holley Gerth says
Yay for waffle fries!! 🙂
There’s been times when I have acted in a similar way, and then there’s been times when I should of acted more like your husband. Thank-you for sharing, it was a blessing in more than one way.
Have a wonderful blessed day all,
Jayne McLeod says
You are such a delight … and such a wonderful writer … and such an encouragement to me! Thank you for being real. God (his Grace) is good, all the time ! Enjoy the SONshine. Jayne
Jenny K says
Thank you so much Holley for this beautiful little book of encouragement, the words have been such a blessing to me.
Holley Gerth says
I’m so glad the book is encouraging you, Jenny!
Anne@CMM World says
Congratulations and Blessings on your new book! Thank you for all the information, explained beautifully. Where I can purchase it?
Anne @ cmm.world
Becky Beresford says
Oh my goodness, Holley!
Thank you for these words. I have literally driven to Chick-fil-A and scarffed down waffle fries (accompanied with a chocolate shake because you just have to…) all while trying to regain my sanity after crazy days with my kids and fights with my husband. It was like I was reading my life… LOL.
Thank you for being real and vulnerable. I’m so not perfect, and it is a blessing to know I’m not alone, even in my salty-and-sweet recovery process. 😉 Jesus is the best. Plain and simple.
All of His BEST to you,