“LiveWeak” was Kristen Milligan’s way of embracing the unwelcome truth that she was not in control. Most of us know this fact, yet we instinctively fight against it. Putting on a brave face, keeping a stiff upper lip, being self-sufficient, pushing through–all of these concepts will at some point just not work. It doesn’t take a cancer diagnosis for our humanity to fail us–no one will make it through life unscathed by hardship.
Many already know Kristen’s story, but it is worth repeating. She was a young mom, raising three kids with her husband when she was diagnosed with a rare terminal cancer at age 30. Her children were just four, two, and six months old at the time. She quickly realized her entire family was affected by her illness, and searched for resources but found none. So she and her husband Deric decided to create Inheritance of Hope to serve families just like their own. Read her reasons for starting IoH >>
At first glance, this may sound like a story of strength, but the Milligans never tried to do it by themselves, nor through their own abilities. They relied on an entire community of friends and family, and most importantly, their faith. Kristen did what she could, but she recognized that her weakness allowed space for both the strengths of others and God’s miracles to shine through. And, she trusted that her children would be ok no matter what. Now, almost a decade after she passed away, that belief is just as true as it was when she first explained her sickness to her little ones through a children’s book. They are ok.
In a culture so focused on doing, it would be easy to talk about all the things Kristen did. She did a lot–she fought the disease, she wrote, she spoke, she made legacy gifts for her children, but in the end, what was more important was who she was. During her last days, when she could not do hardly anything, her best friend saw that Kristen was at peace, “realizing that she could worship God just as well in silent reflection from a bed as she could from any stage, classroom, meeting or table.” Kristen accepted her dependence on God and others, and lucky for us, while she was still able, she left behind the fruits of several years of study on weakness in a 12-week devotional.
Although she freely admitted to not being a theologian, Kristen said, “What I do know about, however, is weakness.” This–weakness–was her starting point.
At the time she began writing “LiveWeak,” Kristen thought the cancer was in remission. She had undergone extensive surgery a few months prior that had removed all evidence of disease. She planned to complete the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon with several friends while raising awareness and funds for IoH, and envisioned this Bible study as a way to frame their training to be applicable to more than just running a race. Kristen asked her fellow readers and runners if they were ready, and she conceded that her body was weak and she herself was “not sure!” But, that didn’t stop her–she was willing to live in a way that openly recognized and accepted her weakness, even to the point of embracing that it could lead to an even richer life than she imagined.
In the introduction to her Bible study, Kristen describes how she has simply been unable to Livestrong®, and has thus made “LiveWeak” her personal battle cry. She found plenty of examples in the Bible of people who had lived weak, by one means or another, and saw the impact of their faith. Paul, Gideon, Lazarus, Moses, Samson, and Jesus–all of their lives provided Kristen with ideas for how she too could stop relying on her own strength. Now, in his version of LiveWeak, Charlie Garrison does the same by examining favorite Bible stories and adding in his personal modern anecdotes.
One important thing Kristen wrote is this, “I might have felt weak, but I never felt alone.” That is our hope for you too–for you to see through stories, other people, and faith that you are never alone.
Just like Kristen, we ask you here, “are you ready?” And, just like her, it’s ok if you aren’t sure. Living weak is something that requires work every single day.