Something happened this week that triggered hurt and angry emotions for me….this hasn’t happened in such a long time…a trigger that seems to push my “buttons” is when someone says something to me that makes me feel “foolish” or “stupid”…and then shame soon follows and doesn’t want to let go…it hangs on with a tenacity that sucks the life right out of me. And then I find myself “beating myself up” again, emotionally….feeling totally defeated. It’s an old pattern that trips me up from time to time.
Then the next day I was taking a day trip so I had a total of 7 hours of driving alone. It gave me time to pour out my heart to God, to talk and to listen….. As I drove, with tears blurring my eyes, I simply spoke aloud to God all that I was feeling
His Words back to me in the silence of the car was simply this: “you extend grace to others so easily, when are you going to extend grace to yourself?”
He nailed it!! But what does extending grace to myself look like? As I continued pouring out my heart to Him I confessed that I was tired of beating myself up, tired of not forgiving myself….I cried out to Him admitting that I am not perfect, I make mistakes, I sin, I am not like so and so, I am tired of trying to be like everyone else, or tired of trying to please everyone else….I just want to be me…to be who my Heavenly Father created me to be….I want to be authentic…and true and real….the pain was real and raw and as I spoke each word I sensed His presence….eventually His peace filled the car…..
Words that a kind counselor said to me years ago came back to my mind- “you need to cut yourself some slack!!” As it was then, I struggle with this. What does this really look like?
Striving, living in fear of making mistakes, performance based living….is a crazy dance that involves jumping through hoops repeatedly. Trying to be a good Christian makes me tired and worn out-exhausted in my own efforts. Just thinking about it leaves me feeling tired, and the goal of a perfect life seems even more elusive.
It’s tiresome focusing my energy and devotion on pleasing other Christians and striving to make myself more desirable in my own eyes, or trying to earn acceptance and value based on what I do.
Jumping through hoops puts the emphasis on doing rather than being, on personal performance rather than abiding in Perfection.
I read today that God does not demand perfection in you. God is not expecting you to measure up. God never thought that you could live the Christian life, nor does he expect that you could actually meet his holy standards. If he thought that you could, he wouldn’t have come to earth to die for you. But he did.
It is the difference between independently trying to perform for God, verses depending on God and relying on him to live through you. We do not mature into independence from God. We mature only by remaining dependent upon him, and that’s the way he wants it. He wants you to enjoy the freedom and love of being in relationship with him, trusting him, depending upon him. He is not expecting you to perform for him.
I know in my head the ONLY thing we are called to do in this life is to be the beautiful, unique human being God created each of us to be. Human beings are NOT perfect. A few years ago the Lord began the work of stripping away my perfectionism….He spoke to my heart about AUTHENTICITY. And I soon realized that perfectionism is one of the primary blocks to authenticity. We are called to be WHOLE, not perfect. Now if these truths could just move from my head to my heart!!
This past year God repeatedly seems to be speaking to me about grace….little did I know that authenticity and grace would one day meet!!
When we read about Job in Scripture we find that after all of Job’s long trials and a deep depression, he made a statement near the end of the book named after him. “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” (Job 42:5, NIV).
That is how I felt driving in the car that day…no longer were those words such a mystery to me but they began to make sense. As long as I continue trying to achieve my own perfection, or a perfection someone else demanded of me, I continue to hold Him so far away that I really only hear of Him.
But the moment I give up and embrace my utter weaknesses and failures, Christ reveals Himself in a way that has me “desiring for” and “longing after” Him.