I Can’t Do This
By Jerri Phillips
Tears well and drip onto the paper. Frustrated, she crumples the mostly finished algebra test, jumps from her chair, and runs to her room. The sound of her sobs finds its way to the kitchen where I stand heart heavy.
“I can’t do this.” Her words echo in the kitchen and in my spirit.
Resigned to failure, she hides in her bedroom and finds comfort in the solace of loneliness where no one sees her misery.
I can’t do this.
The words I panted when my stomach tightened ready to bring forth a new life. The same words barely coming from my chest when I stood by my dad’s casket and I had to say goodbye for the last time.
These words spill out when hot tears roll down my face because fear has brought me to my knees one too many times and learning to walk in faith seems to be more than I can do. I spit them through clenched teeth with clenched fists when another bumbled performance has shattered my pride. I scream them in the agony of my own frailty, of my own frail faith, and I wonder when I will ever stop doubting. They are confessed confusion when God seems wholly disinterested, and I wonder why I have been left to fight the battle on my own.
I can’t do this.
When lately has the utterance slipped from my lips? Yesterday when bending my son’s headstrong disposition seemed more than my strength or patience could handle. Again this morning when the scale did not show its appreciation for my sacrificial lack of chocolate. On the phone with a friend this afternoon when I tried to fit one more thing into an already full calendar.
Like my daughter, I run to my safe place and hide in my comfort zone. In the silence, I confess, “I can’t do this…without You.”
I cannot raise children whose hearts seek You without Your wisdom each day.
I cannot give up this sin habit without Your cleansing Spirit working inside me.
I cannot love my husband as You desire without Your pouring love for him into my heart.
I cannot face the enemies that ridicule my beliefs without the mind of Christ.
I cannot overcome the fear that this venture might fail without Your Spirit to give me strength.
I simply can’t be the person I know You want me to be without You.
I smooth the crinkled paper and study her work. A few mistakes in calculation, but she has the right idea. She is so close but doesn’t realize it. A little more work, and she’ll have it down. All she needs is a bit of help, someone to encourage her, and faith that good will come if she just keeps trying.
“Honey! Come here!” I call.
So does God.
She emerges from her hiding place.
So do I.
“Let me help you.” We both hear, she with her ears, I with my heart.
We settle ourselves, ready to receive the much needed help. In her eyes I see my heart whispers.
“I’m afraid of failing. I don’t know how to do this, and I’m afraid I never will. I can’t do this without you.”
She doesn’t have to do it all by herself, though. I’m right there with her.
Thankfully, so is He.