Beautiful Between

living fully in the now & not yet

This book will make you want to be poor in spirit (Glorious Weakness review + giveaway)

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I don’t like my lack.

Sure, I tell stories of my struggles and brokenness in this space. I try to make room here for you to let your guard down, to breathe a sigh of relief that you aren’t alone, after all.

But it’s much easier to hold space for your brokenness and weakness than my own.

For many years, I only sought wholeness and growth because I knew I’d be a better servant if I was healthy. The reason I’m even willing to accept my lack is for your sake. I suppose there’s a bit of that left in me.

I know that if I can somehow let down my guard enough to let you see that you’re not the only one struggling, it might just be healing. It might just be a little bit life-giving.

But I’ve been reading this beautiful book called Glorious Weakness by Alia Joy, and it’s pushed back against all the ways I don’t like my need.

Alia’s storytelling is gorgeous and raw as she talks about all the broken places in her life: chronic illness, bipolar disorder, childhood sexual trauma, poverty, racial discrimination, and miscarriage. She’s endured more than a lifetime of heartache and, like many of us, has fought tooth-and-nail to find hope.

Past Tense

But, more than anything else, I was struck by this way I talk about my brokenness and lack in the past tense.

I want to say I was depressed. I was broken.

I was poor and needy and all the other adjectives that we try to avoid as American Christians.

I want to tell you about the things I have walked through, not the ones I am walking through.

Because here’s the truth:

I’ve been trying to write this post for several weeks. But I’ve avoided it because I’ve been dealing with the darkness.

I hit a rough patch with my mental health as I’ve been working with my doctor to adjust my meds. It got heavy and hard to get out of bed most days. Anxiety’s buzz grew louder every afternoon. It was so predictable I could have set my watch by it.

I wrote notes in my phone, in my journal, and in Google Docs about things I wanted to tell you. I took anxiety selfies and drafted Instagram posts, but I didn’t publish a single one.

To be fair, I believe in the value of healthy boundaries and maintaining some privacy. I’m not an advocate for oversharing in unhealthy ways. As always, I’ve been talking with my husband, my therapist, and good friends about how I’ve felt, so I’ve been caring for my mental health in community.

“We don’t want to admit we went down with the ship. We don’t want to confess we are clinging to debris afloat in a sea of nothing but our losses. But we are a beacon of hope for others who’ve lost their way.”

I hid my hurt. I forgot there’s power in letting others see some of the struggle, in allowing ourselves to become that beacon of hope.

Strength made perfect in weakness

Alia writes, “[w]e want God’s perfect strength, but we don’t want to live with our constant, gaping need.”

I guess I’ve wanted to feel God’s strength as inseparable from my own. Somewhere along the way, I picked up the idea that God’s strength made perfect in my weakness means I’ll feel strong on the inside and look strong on the outside.

“We think our testimony is supposed to be our faithfulness. But our testimony is only ever how God is faithful to us, not the other way around.”

I feel like I know the faithfulness of God in my bones, and yet I still try to be enough. Good enough, strong enough, whole enough, it doesn’t matter. If the testimony isn’t about God, it’s not true and whole and beautiful.

Blessed are the poor in spirit.

Alia kept coming back to that verse from the Beatitudes, where Jesus turns everything upside-down by saying the lost and the least and the broken are the truly blessed. I chased down those words, studied them out, and found a sense of complete destitution in the idea of being poor: no wealth, no education, no power, no influence, no honor.

In those words, I wonder if it could just as easily say “blessed are those who have absolutely nothing to bring.

“There is a helplessness in poverty that precedes the move of God in our lives because we understand an aspect of grace that so many miss: we do nothing to earn it.

Too many years trying to be good enough make it hard to remember. But I resonate with Alia’s confession that she most often meets God “splayed not on the altar of my offering but of my poverty.”

Even Jesus

In the hours leading up to the crucifixion, Jesus entered and stayed in his deepest darkness, weak and empty and lacking. He begged God to take the cup from him and just wanted his friends to stay awake and keep him company in his grief.

Jesus even cried out that he had been forsaken, honestly lamenting the horrific pain and injustice. But he didn’t hide any of that from us.

He stayed, trusted, and knew who he was even in the midst of his weakest and darkest moment. He wasn’t just saving us. He was showing us how to walk through hell on earth, and that there is life after death, resurrection after ruin.

If Jesus even embraced weakness and brokenness, refusing to hide it from us, then maybe I can do the same. After all, that’s the posture of trust and of confidence in the deep, unchanging, unending love of God.

Win a copy of Glorious Weakness!

Listen: I’ve never read a book that dealt with faith, brokenness, and mental health in such a beautiful and healing way, so I want to share it. All you have to do to enter is sign up for my email list below. I’ll draw a winner on Friday, May 3rd.  

10 Replies

  1. Carol

    Hi Sarah – You write beautifully and with so much heart – I must admit I’m overwhelmed by your insight and ability to convey your message – particularly because I don’t usually expect such wisdom from someone so young. I’m 75 and have struggled with ‘the darkness’ my entire life. I came from an age when there was no recognition of such a state – so I found no relief or comprehension until my late 50s. However, 8 years ago I accepted Jesus as my Savior and the world and my life changed – not all at once and not completely – but to the point where it is now manageable, and yes, hopeful. As I read your words, I find your understanding of a person’s brokenness and weakness, combined with your faith, to be invaluable – I only wish you can reach many more people, especially the young who are facing such hopelessness and despair. Most memorable as I read was: “If Jesus even embraced weakness and brokenness, refusing to hide it from us, then maybe I can do the same.” How wonderful and promising that statement is. Please keep sharing – you are a ‘beacon of hope’ and will be to many others. Thank you and God bless all that you are doing.

  2. Mike Dean

    I don’t like showing where I hurt either (even though it leaks out …) I am convinced that people get tired of it over time….

    Reading the post reminded me of the old Gillette slogan: “Look sharp! Feel sharp! Be sharp!” (but it only works with shaving irons…)

    1. I get that, Mike. But I’m learning that’s not always true. Hang in there

  3. Julia Broeders

    “He stayed, trusted, and knew who he was even in the midst of his weakest and darkest moment. He wasn’t just saving us. He was showing us how to walk through hell on earth, and that there is life after death, resurrection after ruin. ”

    Resurrection after ruin. Yes and amen. I spent the weekend reading the same book and I find myself distracted by it even now . . . the beauty she pulls into view from so many ashes of her before, and her now, have changed me. I too feel the need to write in response but I honestly don’t know where to begin. Just lovely, exquisitely achingly lovely. ~ J.

  4. Hi Sarah!
    I’m excited that God just brought me to a couple kindred spirits–you and the author you just introduced me to!
    I’m working on a hott mess of a book concept for which I’m doing a lil research. My search of “blessed are the poor in spirit mental” led me here. 😀 I’ve been walking with Jesus and struggling with Generalized Anxiety Disorder for 10+ years. I’ve always felt a pull to write, and as I’m an English teacher looking for work, that season seems like now! Anywho, just wanted to introduce myself!
    This piece is well written, and I am so grateful for your review and your perspective. 😀

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, Tiffany! It’s always a joy to meet a kindred spirit 🙂

  5. In long past the giveaway, but adding this book to my list!

    “I hid my hurt. I forgot there’s power in letting others see some of the struggle, in allowing ourselves to become that beacon of hope.”

    You are such an inspiration to me, friend. I am so, so glad you’re in my life. Love you big!

  6. Hello, you used to write fantastic, but the last few posts have been kinda boring?
    I miѕs your sսper writings. Past seveгɑl posts are
    just a little bit out of track! come on!

    1. None of us are super every day or in every blog. I’d like to encourage you to pray for blog writers as opposed to expressing your disappointment in not being entertained/inspired sufficiently. Putting your heart on the page for the world to see is no small thing. Please be respectful of the gift they bring. ~ J.

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