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