“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me … But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth” (2 Timothy 4:16-17).
The paper banner taped to the wall read I. L. A. C.
“Pretend you have a sign inside that reads, ‘I’m lovable and capable,’” I told my students. Each of them had multiple disabilities and struggled with emotional issues. The interactive sign would help boost their self-esteem. And assist them in communicating their feelings.
If they felt inadequate to meet a challenge, they’d tear off a piece of the banner. Symbolizing their sadness and diminished confidence. If they accomplished a difficult task, they’d tape a piece of paper to the banner. Conveying their increased confidence and pride. Providing tangible evidence of their achievement.
Decades later, I have a new perspective. As a believer I yearn for God’s love and rely on His help.
So why do I sometimes allow my disease to make me feel unlovable or incapable? It’s because I can’t resist the temptation to admire my I. L. A. C. sign.
Wow! Look what I did! I ran three errands and did water walking today!
Such self-celebration negates God’s power working in me.
That inner tug-of-war yanks my attention from God’s power and pulls it back to self-sufficient thinking. Victory is gained only by reading stories like Gideon’s conquest. “Gideon and his three hundred men, exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit, came to the Jordan and crossed it (Judges 8:4).”
The lesson: God’s power remains boundless regardless of small numbers or limited ability. Our weakness helps us understand His strength.
What happens when symptoms stifle our ability to accomplish things we once excelled at doing? Or when our illness makes us feel unlovely?
Like Paul we can find ourselves feeling deserted. But then we notice one Friend faithfully standing by. Giving us strength needed for the moment. And loving us more than we could ever imagine (Ephesians 3:19).
Prayer: Dear Father, Forgive me for prideful wishes to be noticed for what I can do. When others see me, help them see only You. When I feel unlovely, give me a vision of how You see me. Help me focus on inner beauty. Thank You for the access I have to Your power. And for Your unconditional love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
About the Author:
Vicki understands special needs as a patient, parent, and professor. She has had multiple sclerosis since 1993. Her 33 year old son was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. She’s taught special education as a teacher, administrator, and adjunct professor. Through her blog, she reaches out to other mothers of children with mental illness. http://mentalillnessmom2mom.net/
Vicki wrote a picture book about bullying: Heart Eyes: Beth and the Bullies. You can find out more about that book by visiting her Heart Eyes website: www.hearteyes.net
What worship song keeps your focus on His love and power in your life?
It can be hard to accept that God just wants to love us–and for us to love Him. Yes, we are called to love one another, to reach out to hose hurting, but if we can even grasp a bit of how much God loves us these things will come naturally (at least… They should!) This is Christa Wells singing “Being Loved” as she describes just how awe we are and how humbling it is to just accept God’s love for us–without trying to earn it. Bless ya! -Lisa