What Kara Tippetts taught me about weakness
by Kathryn Glanzer
“When you come to the end of yourself, that’s when something else can begin.” – Kara Tippetts
I found author Kara Tippetts through a friend. I began by reading her blog, Mundane Faithfulness, and eventually met her book, The Hardest Peace. Tippetts began writing when she had come to the end of herself.
In the midst of stage IV cancer, as a mother of four and wife of a church planter, she embraced her brokenness and wrote her story, communicating the fullness of God’s grace. As a reader, I watched Tippetts go through redefining what is beautiful and what is to God’s glory as she chooses to “humbly receive the story no one would ever want, and know there is goodness in the midst of its horror.” Make no mistake, this is a hard book to read; it forces the reader to consider his/her own story. After all, “We are not the author of our story,” writes Tippetts. “We are the characters.” We are here to glorify God.
Tippetts lays herself out before her readers as a dying and broken woman who struggles with her journey. She explains that, “Before cancer, I would have said I was on the journey of seeking grace, but in truth I was manufacturing my own faith.” Her book takes readers through her battle with preconceived concepts of faith, grace and beauty as she battles cancer and finds new definitions along the way. While I was reading The Hardest Peace, Tippetts passed away; she died in March 2015.
A dear friend of mine is the church secretary for the young Presbyterian Church of America church the Tippetts planted in Colorado Springs, Colo. During this past year, I loved praying for Kara alongside her congregation, but I have especially treasured hearing the side stories of how this congregation has moved and swayed together with the Holy Spirit at the helm.
What a journey they have endured together with their pastoral family: raw and communal. Tippett herself describes it: “Our church became a place to show up needy. We had to let go of our false comforts found in control and strength. We said yes to offers of care and help. We stopped pretending we had anything figured out.” Haven’t we all hungered for this kind of awareness of grace and the freedom to be broken amidst our church bodies?
In the end, Tippetts’ story is not one of miraculous physical healing but of spiritual and corporate healing. After all, God walks with her though the valley of the shadow of death and does not save her for this world. Her story promotes another focus: eternal preparation. It is about “finding ourselves restored in the midst of our brokenness,” writes Tippetts. It is about finding healing and wholeness through our recognition of being incapable without God.
As a Christian, I subconsciously and sometimes consciously work toward being stronger. Tippetts’ writing prompts me to question if I allow God’s grace to be sufficient for me and if I am allowing his power to be made perfect in my weakest moments. It is risky to allow God to be the author of my story. Risky, raw and restoring.