Tired Hands: on getting a grip when you feel defeated

This week, Cody pointed out that he has been observing a lot of self-condemnation in the way I talk about my day, and I was challenged to dig into these statements and decide how much was truth.

From how the baby napped to forgetting the espresso maker was running because I got interrupted; from my reaction to the dirty dishes to my inner wrestlings over cooking dinner again, I tend to observe how I walk through each experience and label it as another failure.

I’m always trying to improve, so I didn’t see a real problem with focusing on what could go better, but I’m learning that when that evaluation leaves me defeated, I may be listening to the wrong voice.

“For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to Earth – the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the lamb and by their testimony.”

Revelation 12:11-12

I have an enemy that drags up the past, day and night, in hopes of discouraging and defeating me; but the blood of Jesus Christ has paid for it all. There is zero outstanding debt. The accuser is the one who is defeated, not me.

The word “testimony” in this verse comes from the greek word martyrias which also means “evidence” or “record.” 

The enemy is defeated by the very record he tries to throw in my face. 

Because of the cross, the enemy accuses, but the record is clean.

Regardless of how I feel about myself, the record is clean, and God is not asking me to dwell on how I should have done better. I will never on this earth perform perfectly. Can I be content with God’s ability to forgive, forget, and use me in spite of my failures? Can I believe him when he says I am free to move on?

In a thousand situations, I would like to take my hindsight and have a re-do. In many others, I don’t like how it went, but I don’t actually know what I should have done or said instead. I have not walked perfectly, and I will not walk perfectly, but the record is clean.

God’s desire for me is to walk in freedom, confident of what he is able to do rather than carrying stress over whether I will ever get it right. He is NOT the one asking that question. 

“So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong…Look after each other so that no one fails to receive the grace of God…Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking.”

Hebrews 12:12, 18, 25

When I become aware of my falling and my weakness, may I learn to listen to the Lord when he speaks.

Because he does not speak of grace and hope and strength and then say, “but these do not apply to you; these are for people facing harder things, these are for people who haven’t screwed up.”

His grace is for every weakness. His hope is for every struggle. His strength is for every hardship.

He does not make me aware of my issues to make me feel disqualified but so that he may infuse my hollowness with his fullness and brace the joints that would give out and encourage my heavy heart and my tired hands to take a new grip. His instructions mark out the path ahead, not to intimidate me, but to help me press on with sure footing. 

His desire is not that I would never, ever fail; but that I would never, ever fail to receive his grace. Grace he is always holding out, like a steady hand when I’m walking with a limp, like a fresh, solid grip when my hands are tired. 

Grace that says: 
“The enemy accuses, but the record is clean.
Don’t listen to him. Don’t even listen to yourself. Listen to me.”

How Not To Love: on how hidden attitudes flow outward

“I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another…” 
(2 John 5)

“…see to it that you really do love each other intensely with all your hearts.”
(1 Peter 1:22)

Be Nice

Over and over and over, God’s Word gives this instruction: “love one another.” It’s the second most important thing we’re given to do with our entire lives.

But I think I actually live more in terms of “be nice.” I put all sorts of effort into my outward interactions with people, but tend to be careless with my heart attitudes toward them. In fact, I often don’t recognize that my heart attitudes are TOWARD anyone at all.

Here’s the hard truth: My heart attitudes are not isolated. They never only affect me. They are always toward someone, and they always flow outward: into my body language, into my actions, into my words. Hidden attitudes don’t stay hidden.

When I grow frustrated over what I don’t have in comparison to someone else, I am not only sowing discontent in my own heart, I am placing myself in a rivalry with and nurturing hostility toward another person because they have enjoyed an advantage. When I grow exasperated because someone is making me wait, I am not only giving into impatience, I am giving into the lie that the person I am waiting for is not worth it. And the hostility will surface. And the irritation will surface.

Whether I intend it to or not, the attitude my heart adopts toward other people will flow outward. 

The List

So I have been asking the Lord to help me identify when I am handling another person in an unloving way, even if it’s only within my own heart. I reviewed 1 Corinthians 13 with the filter of “how does this look at the thought level?”, and came up with this list of How Not to Love:

I am NOT loving another person when I:

  • allow my heart to see them as a rivalĀ 
  • refuse to celebrate when they have been given something good
  • become irritated and impatient with them because I have let their pace fuel my worry
  • remember, revisit, and rehearse how they have been hurtful to me
  • nurture expectations of how they will care for, pour into, or benefit me

How beautiful it would be to notice something better in another person’s life and feel zero negative emotions about it, because I finally get that it has nothing to do with what I have or don’t have. It has everything to do with whether I love the other person or not. And love celebrates the joys of others, so love is not jealous.

When I rehearse what has been hurtful, I have become the one that hurts. And love knows the record only does more damage, so love keeps no record of wrong.

My exasperation has little to do with what time it is, and much to do with whether I value the person I am waiting for. And love places immense value on others, so love is patient.

As I step into a room and gauge my expectations, I often find that I am greedy for the attention, energy, and care of the people standing in it, even when I thought I came with the best intentions. When I lean forward in expectation or lean away and lick my wounds, I am not loving them. When love leans, it leans in offering, because love does not seek its own.

If this is love, I don’t love very many people at all. I’m nice to them outwardly, but I do not love them. 

But if I could learn this love, how free I would be!

If this is how I handled people internally, I wouldn’t have to think very hard about how to interact with them on the outside. If I made the hard choice to love them with the thoughts of my heart, it would flow outward. And my joy would not be slave to what other people have or how other people handle me.

A Prayer


Even when you are wronged and treated as unimportant, your love forgives so easily and freely. It is generous; it is gentle; it does not demand attention. It is a beautiful thing to behold. 

Teach me to learn this love. Help me to see how thoroughly you cherish me, so that I find my soul settled, for it knows it does not have to chase after how other people see me or treat me.

May I shrug off my slavery to what other people have and what other people do, carefully tend to the attitudes of my own heart, and little by little, start to understand what it means to love one another from the inside out.