Fun fact: my dream is to join the circus.
Trapeze flying. Aerial acrobatics. That hoop thing they twirl around. The contorting. The tightroping. The fearlessness. The strength. I want to do it all.
Since my first time seeing Cirque du Soleil, I’ve developed an unhealthy obsession with these superhumans. So much so that I actually signed up for, you guessed it, Circus School! Blame it on a year and a half of being cooped up in my apartment convincing myself “I can do that.” Or maybe it’s a quarter-life crisis. I’ll let you know in ten years.
First, I’m learning aerial silks—long pieces of fabric that hang from the ceiling that you use to wrap, suspend, and swing your body into various poses in the air. One of the first things we’re learning is climbing.
Let me try to explain this. First, you grab on with both hands and wrap your feet around the silks. Then you pull your legs up toward your belly, walk your hands up again, and repeat.
So there I am. Hands walking up. Legs pulling in. Hands walking up. Legs pulling in. My muscles are on fire. My neck hurts from looking up at my hands then down at my feet. My arms are shaking. My non-existent abs are screaming at me for waking them up from hibernation. I’m a mess.
And remember. This is silk. It’s slippery. There is no grip. There is only the strength you bring to it—and let me just say, your girl here did a lot of things during quarantine, but pull-ups was not one of them. So after all this effort, I look down and I am literally…wait for it…only two feet off the ground. Two! Meanwhile, another girl is already on her way down after reaching the top of this 30-foot silk.
“What?!” I thought. All that effort got me two measly feet off the ground?! What am I even doing here? There’s no way I’m going to get to the top let alone perform stunts suspended in the air. Give me a towel, I’m throwing it in.
And just as I’m on the verge of tears—the teacher looks at me and says, “It doesn’t feel like it, but you’re building strength. You just have to keep showing up.” Uh, lady. What about my body flailing around like a dead fish looks anything like strength?
But later, I realized she was right. Maybe building strength doesn’t always feel like strength. Maybe it’s more about building than actually feeling strong right now. She didn’t say, “You just have to get it all perfect right now.” She said, “You just have to keep showing up.” A message of consistency, perseverance, and commitment—all things you need before you ever feel strong.
Then I stopped. “Is God using the circus to give me a blog right now? He’s so clever.”
Because, yes, some things in my life feel like the equivalent of a 30-foot silk. How am I going to do this thing? I’m gripping it with all my might, trying to inch closer to a solution, tapping skills I’ve never used. And I still feel like I’m getting nowhere. I just don’t have the strength. But what I’m learning is that spiritual strength is not something you have or don’t have. It’s something that grows as you keep showing up.
The hard pill to swallow is that God intentionally designed me so that I can’t do everything on my own. He says, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) A.k.a., we don’t come into this world with a giant portion of readymade strength. He wants us to go through the building process. A little more trust here. An extra prayer there. A bigger leap of faith than we took yesterday. If I was perfectly strong all the time, then there’d be no space for His power to work.
So, I have two choices: rely on my very-limited only-human strength and never reach the top, or let His superhuman strength work through me to accomplish the spiritual equivalent of an Advanced Open Silk Russian Foot Drop. I think I have my answer.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.