Living Desparately

Allison Sweatman

November 5, 2017

It’s not hard for me to remember a time when my desperation was so on display that I had no choice but to own it and walk accordingly. My baby wasn’t breathing on her own. He heart was terribly sick. Her body was reacting to a physical brokenness she was born with. As her mother, I was helpless.

Many people told me during and around that season that I handled it all with grace and joy. I honestly don’t even know what that looked like or how I exhibited it. I can assure you that anything good that came from me during that time is God’s grace alone. I’ll accept that compliment as long as it’s known that it was not of my own strength or resolve that I exhibited these traits.

I was in a season that most will never endure. It’s unique and lonely and a low point in many respects. But I must always emphasize something that I know not everyone will understand:

I was thankful for the hard stuff because it brought me to the feet of Jesus like never before. 

No one wants to say it, but desperation is a goal of a follower of Jesus. I don’t mean that hardships are necessarily a goal, as though we should go seeking them. However, there is an important and valuable posture that comes from knowing that neither you nor anyone around you can save yourself from the mess of your own life.

Even when you’re a perfectionist.

Even when those around you have medical degrees.

Even when the mess of your life includes sleepless nights being told your child likely won’t survive the next surgery.

Our sweet Rosie’s hand, in the hospital. This was taken just before her first heart surgery.

The posture I’m talking about is one that I only slightly experienced when I lived in Asia (Shall we call it Diet-Desperation?) and then I was thrust into it full-force when my child was born with a severe congenital heart defect (Full-Flavor Desperation?). If I’m not careful, memories of both can take me to places of anxiety and even anger. And here lies the dilemma:

How do I remember upon my hardships so that I can live desperately without living anxiously?

The desperation one feels when she is first confronted with the real person of Jesus Christ is felt in small doses when she experiences the real pain of a world broken by the Fall. That pain can be leveraged to produce a healthy desperation and dependence on Christ. That is a good thing. That would be creating beauty from ashes. Redemption begins in a really difficult place.

The problem happens when our flesh and the lies of the Enemy take us from a place of dependence to a place of worry. Let me be honest. This happens so easily.

Reflection upon our desperate season can be a fantastic practice to remind me of how much I need Jesus. I need him as desperately today, as I did when Rosie was at her sickest. I need him as desperately today as I did the day I began following him. I need his as desperately today as I did on the most tippy-top of mountaintops. So how do I stay desperate for Jesus without falling into the pit of anxiety? If you find out, let me know.

Own your desperation to the degree that it draws you to the feet of Jesus. Walk with Him in desperation. Don’t let the Enemy warp that healthy practice into anxiety or anger.

Let’s live desperately, but let’s not live anxiously.


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