When Weakness is Good

Originally published May 7, 2013

Last week, Shelby had an evaluation for MDCP (Medically Dependent Children's Program).  This is a state waiver program that Shelby benefits from.  Through it, she gets Medicaid as a secondary insurance and also receives respite hours for us to hire babysitters to help a few hours a week.  This program is a huge blessing.  It has not only saved us a ton of money, but provides lots of hands-on help with baths, homework, feeding, errands, and much needed breathers.  I can't say enough how crucial this is to Shelby's well-being and my sanity.  
Every six months, our case worker comes to the house with a nurse and we have to pull Shelby out of school so they can see her.  The purpose of the visit is to make sure that Shelby is still incapacitated enough to need their services.  The very first time we had one of these meetings, our then- case worker told me, "Now is not the time to brag on your child."  For most of us, bragging on our children comes as natural as breathing.  For Shelby, bragging occurs over minute accomplishments - because that's all we have.  She spontaneously strings 2 or even 3 words together.  She puts a blanket over her head to play peek a boo.  She gives an especially tight squeeze when she hugs.  She tries to jump with both feet off the ground.  Bragging rights for me.  But Mrs. Maxville was trying to protect us.  When filling out the questionaire, the less Shelby is able to do on her own, the more money for respite hours we will get.  So although we would never lie, she wanted to make sure we didn't embellish or exaggerate Shelby's accomplishments (what parent would do that?).  This year we were told that due to cut- backs, the program was looking for people to disqualify.  And after we finished the eval, we were told that we would definitely loose a few hours because Shelby doesn't need to be turned during the night.  Apparently, last year our survey was marked in the affirmative on that question.  I don't know why as Shelby has never needed to be turned and we would never say so.  Must have been a clerical mistake.  
This meeting made me think of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:
"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."
The more helpless Shelby is, the more state resources we can use.  In much the same way, the more helpless we are as Christians, the more God can work through us.  This seems so counter-cultural.  Bragging comes more naturally than admitting weakness.  Even in Christian circles, we often have a hard time being authentic - choosing instead to put up a front.  Pretend that everything is ok or we might not look like good followers of Christ.  When the opposite is actually true.  The term "strong Christian" is really an oxymoron.  The more we admit our weakness and inability to do life on our own, the more Christ takes over and accomplishes much through us.  Just as Chuck and I have to be honest with Shelby's lack of abilities (as depressing as that is to put on paper at times) in order to get the help she needs, we believers have to own our faults, sins and flaws so that God can fill them in and cover them over.  And only after we can admit what we really are, can others start to see Christ through our cracks.