I'm Not Strong

by  Jenny Isaminger

A few weeks ago, I ran a half marathon. It was the second time I've done this, but the first time in 4 years. There's a photo of me, crossing the finish line, about 40 minutes later than I wanted to. The photo shows the woman next to me with her arms in the air above her head, chin up, beaming, and victorious. Next to her was me, hands bracing my back, head down, and grimacing.

After you cross the finish line, you walk into the convention center where they give you a medal, take your picture, and you get your Finisher t-shirt. The whole time I was in that room was some of the most intense pain I had ever felt. My legs pulsed and throbbed and I couldn't stop shaking. I replayed Mile 11 in my mind, where I felt like concrete blocks were on my ankles. I just. couldn't. do it. I was so mad at myself and embarrassed at how poorly I had done. Of the 917 females in my age group, I finished in 758th place.  When I finally sat down, I burst into tears. I didn't feel strong at all. I felt incredibly defeated and weak.

I've never been an athlete, which never really bothered me. Growing up I was always voted "Most Musical." I was the singer, the actress, the writer, the storyteller, the comedian.... but never the athlete. I knew my role, and that was okay. I did minimal effort to get through PE class at school and called it a day. Not much was expected of me, and I ran the laps I needed to run before heading back to choir.

As an adult, I've had to force myself to do the work. As the years speed by, the metabolism slows down. I've had to make a conscious effort to make some positive changes. When I say it doesn't come naturally to me, that would be the world's greatest understatement. It's hard. Every single minute of it is hard.

At the gym, I'll be working my shoulder muscles on the lowest setting possible, and I am shaking so hard I can barely muster the strength to do even one exercise. I put the bar down, hang my head, and beat myself up. "I'm so weak." I look around at the other people in the gym. Women doing pull-ups or lifting weights, toned and chiseled and STRONG. I drive way from the gym, and the self-talk floods my mind as the tears flood out of my eyes.

I'm not strong.

Physically, I'm not strong. My arms and shoulders are incredibly weak. I've had 2 children, the delivery of both of which required that my entire abdomen be cut wide open, through the muscles, getting rid of any thread of core strength I had previously had. My body is weak.

Mentally, I'm not strong. Discipline is not my strong suit. I'll wake up and declare "No sodas this week!" and by Tuesday I'm pulling over to get a Diet Coke because "I need one." I have a hard time saying no to food, a hard time saying no to comforts. A hard time getting myself up and out of bed early. A hard time tackling the laundry monster. I'm mentally weak.

I'm even weak in my stances. I see all the public debating on social media and I generally stay out of it. One, because I hate conflict, but also because God has given me this unique ability to see both sides to every argument. Well, almost every argument. Most of the time, I could adequately argue both sides to any issue. So many things that we fight over, I genuinely don't know what my stance is. It changes every day.

I wrote all these things down recently. I cried and told God that I wanted to be stronger. Had I ever asked for that before? Had I ever asked him for strength? I've asked for strength as I weather some sort of trial or storm. But have I ever asked the Lord to make me physically strong? Mentally strong?

As I wrote this, all the verses I've memorized since childhood rushed in:

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power" - Ephesians 6:10

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me." - Psalm 28:7

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." - Isaiah 40:29

and of course the old standard,

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13

I took a deep breath as I wrote them all down. Such a key element I'm missing here. Could it really be that simple?

I am not strong. I'm not. But He is. HE is my strength, my super power, the lifter of my head, the lifter of my arms, the lifter of my mind.

I've never called on Him for that strength. I've not asked him to make me strong. To make me strong in my decisions and my beliefs. To make me strong in my ability to withstand the temptation of comforts and food. To make me strong in my self-control and discipline. To make me strong in my physical body. Strengthen this body, Lord, that I may be Your instrument! Your vessel!

I am weak, but He is strong.

Jenny Isaminger is married to Grant Isaminger and has 2 children, Ellie (6) and Jack (4).  They have been members at Crossings Community Church for 4 years. 

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