Reading is one of my passions. Yet, there are very few written words that speak to me the way this woman’s words speak. I sometimes think it is because I know her, I have heard her share her heart and can hear her “voice”. But truly–I think it is because God has inspired her to write, and has given her a willingness to be so incredibly honest and vulnerable that it reaches in to your very soul and goes as far as to gently ask for a response.
If you have not read “The Climb” it will give you background as to who Cabell Sweeney is and why I think she is such an inspiration. I thank God for Cabell’s courage throughout this journey and want to share a portion of her last journal entry:
“When I was 19 I became overwhelmed by my need for a Savior. In my dorm room at The University of Georgia I kneeled before God and told Him I was desperate to be loved by Him. I confessed I had made a mess of my life and anything I did to try to fix the brokenness or numb the pain created more of a mess. I told Him I needed Him. But then I got off my knees and set to proving to God that He needed me too. I wanted to be sure He wouldn’t regret picking me for His team. So I started “doing” stuff for God. I became an even better friend, a better student. I became a Young Life leader. I was a good girlfriend, a good teacher and eventually an excellent wife. (Since Sweeney isn’t here to debate the point I’m going with excellent wife.) Sadly, I didn’t stay in a place of desperate need for my Savior.
I didn’t stay “needy” because the world tells us neediness is ugly. Being needy is for the weak. Being needy is too vulnerable, too uncomfortable- too exposed. So we push it away and say we are ok. Doin’ just fine on our own. No one wants to be perceived as needy- “Come on pull yourself together!” is the world’s harsh demand.
We learned so much about need as Sweeney battled cancer. About 4 months into the 18-month battle, with so many times in and out of the hospital, Sweeney began to sleep on the couch. Ironically, our bed was just too comfortable. And his sleep patterns were all messed up. At first I would wake up several times throughout the night to check on him and give him medicine. If he remained awake I would stay with him until he fell back asleep. But at some point I would kiss him and ask, “Do you need anything?” He would answer, “No, I’m ok- I don’t need anything.” After a week or so our bedroom felt too far away so I moved to the guest room. Same routine every night. Get medicine, stay with Sweeney, ask him, “Do you need anything?” Same response, “No. I’m ok- I don’t need anything.” Then the guest room was too far away; so I moved to the love seat next to the couch. And one night as I was leaning over to kiss him asking, “Do you need anything?” I saw the tears streaming down Sweeney’s face. “Cabell, I’m not ok. I just need you. I need to be loved.”
And then something so beautiful happened between us. Something we had tasted so often in our marriage but hadn’t lived in every single day- we realized how much we needed to be loved by the other. It was a fact that cancer revealed. We weren’t afraid of being too vulnerable or too needy. And I came alive in a different way being needed by this incredibly strong, athletic man I loved and respected more than any other living person. So every night that we were alone we snuggled or I rubbed his feet or told him stories of falling in love with Him. I told him how proud I was standing in the back of the room as he told hundreds of high school kids about God’s love for them. I told him what it did inside me to stand on the sideline of the ultimate field and watch him so humbly dominate. I told him how listening to him play guitar was like water in a dry land. I told him every single thing I loved about his heart and his body and his character. I read scripture; we prayed. Until Sweeney died, I slept between the couch and the coffee table because anywhere else was too far away.
Something beyond beauty happens in complete vulnerability. It is what transforms us in the presence of God.
It makes me think of the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years whose story is found in Luke chapter 8. She was desperate. She was so needy. She knew she was not ok, she knew she needed Jesus. But in this crowd of hundreds, maybe thousands was she really the only one who was desperate for healing- desperate for a different life? I doubt it. Maybe she was the only one who had been bleeding for twelve years but surely she wasn’t the only one in pain for over a decade. Surely she wasn’t the only one who had spent “all she had”- all her money, all her time, all her energy, all her hope trying to get well. Surely she wasn’t the only one who needed to hear that she wasn’t “unclean”- that she was beautiful and dearly loved. She couldn’t have been the only one who wanted someone to love her enough to listen to her “whole story” with compassion. But she was the ONLY one in that moment who had this intimate encounter with the God of Creation, The Savior of the World; because she reached out for Him, for the edge of his robe and in doing so said, “I’m not ok, I need you to love me. I need you to change my circumstances.” And Jesus did.
So here’s my point. Stop trying to not be needy. In my marriage, in my deepest friendships, in my family, in God’s word and in His presence I have known a love that passes understanding. A love that is so tender it makes me cry. It’s because I’ve been too tired and too broken to pretend I am not needy. There has been no choice but to be completely vulnerable. And being in this place of need has allowed God to enter in and love me and change me forever.
2 Corinthians 12:9 Says that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.” Cabell Sweeney
May you be a blessing and may you be blessed,