Tag Archive | perfectionism

Getting Aqcuainted With Grace

One would think grace would be something to be received and understood at the onset of Christianity.  If only it were a class you took at the beginning of your enrollment on the path of truth.  I would have surely signed up, checked off my checklist and aimed for the A that decorated my academic career (prior to college that is). But there was no class and after 15 years on this journey, I’m led to believe, grace is ever unfolding. 

As a recovering perfectionist (recovering because I am at least aware which is the first step to truly recovering) I have spent most of my journey trying and doing and accomplishing.  If I don’t do it who will? But what I’m learning is that God will.

God still will. Somehow, someway, even when I fall short and miss the mark and send the text when I shouldn’t, His promises still stand.

He still stands.

I went running this summer and I paced myself up a steep hill.  It was hot that day. Too hot for a run but I was determined. Funny thing was that when I got to the hill the sun was no longer my enemy and shade became my friend. Shade kissed me with each step forward and offered a relief to my burning skin as my thigh muscles flexed and thrived. It was in that moment that I had a picture of grace.  Grace does not remove the obstacle you are called to overcome, instead it offers the ability to overcome it. It travels with you during the hard parts of life and manifests in a breeze or a cool shade on a hot summer day.


A friend sent me a message from Graham Cooke and I think he had a great revelation on grace. “Grace reminds you of who you are”, he said. That is the training I have received and continue to receive: identity. 

Who am I? 

Who are you?

Often our behavior reflects our perception of identity. I asked God recently, “Why does this (insert your this) have to be a big deal?” I have asked this question numerous times but this was the first time I had received an answer. “Because you are a big deal”, He said.

We are a big deal. Whether we want to be or not. We are because we are made in His image and He is a pretty big deal.

SHALOM

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Shedding Perfection

rain

I remember years ago a brother in Christ gave me a prophetic word, “You are a perfectionist”.  I nodded in agreement and smiled.  I thought it was a compliment.  Its only now years later that I’m starting to learn how deceptive perfectionism is.  As my friends and I navigate life with its high highs and low lows, our mid 30s are teaching us that no one gets through this journey unscathed.

We add notches of undesirable experiences to our belts.  We realize the black and white of our 20s and early 30s has now morphed into shades of gray.  And all the while God battles on our behalf…

I find it interesting in this season of quiet that He is most vocal when things are in an upheaval.  I struggle with resentment about that.  I struggle with resentment about a lot of things.

I ask Him questions like, “Where is the restoration?”  I know that the question cannot be answered unless it is asked.  I know He will answer in His own way.  In His own time.

Time has always been difficult for me.  I have always been prompt yet surrounded by many who are not.  I watch the clock and the seconds turn into minutes and the minutes turn into hours.  I watch and watch and there is no movement.  I know He tests me with time because of my own impatience.  Even this knowledge does not seem to make me any more patient.

I sat across from my counselor and she asked, “Do you know why God makes the journey difficult?”  I sat looking back at her blankly.  I really had no clue.  She responded, “So that you remember that you need Him.”  A light bulb went on in my head.

I need Him.

Oh yea, that’s right.  I keep forgetting that.  I have this vision of what my life should be like, of what I want to do and accomplish and deep inside I feel that if given the chance I can just make it happen.  But then I fall short.  My insecurities and my issues and my fears surface, and I make a mess of things.  I am faced once again with my own imperfections.

But slowly, I am giving up that feat.  I am letting go of this idea of what being a Christian is supposed to mean, and what being single is supposed to mean, and what being me is supposed to mean.

There is a freedom in laying down a standard that was self imposed and never really accurate anyway.

There is a freedom I am discovering in my mid 30s.

 

SHALOM

Being Kind

Lately I have been thinking about how little I focus on the 2nd Person of the Trinity. Honestly it feels weird for me even to reference God as individual parts: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The thing is when I think of God I normally think of Him as Father. I understand in my head that even when I am interacting with Him daily it is the third part of the Trinity who I am interacting with (Holy Spirit), but in my heart to me He is still–Father. But lately I’ve been thinking about Jesus and I’ve been re-reading the book of John to focus more on Him and his life while here on earth.
Recently, I was told to “be kind to myself”. I have heard that I can be hard on myself and therefore hard on others, but I will be honest and say that there is still a part of me that doubts this. Am I really too hard on myself? Are my expectations really too high? Because they seem pretty realistic to me. Except I and others usually fall short of them. But when she said to “be kind to myself” there was a realization that dawned on me. There was an awareness of a burden I was carrying. One I seem to always carry w/o knowing it. 

The burden of perfectionism and performance-based faith.  

She asked me what Jesus told the woman who committed adultery (John 8) and the first thing that came to my mind was “Go and sin no more”. But really the first thing He told her was “You are forgiven” (paraphrased from “Neither do I condemn you”). His focus was on forgiveness while mine was on the sin itself. Then she said that even in the Lord’s command to “Go and sin no more” it was less from a place of judgement and more from a place of his concern for the woman. When He looked at the woman, he did not see an adulterer; he saw a woman with a history of abuse and pain and trauma. Because let’s be honest, who escapes this life w/o experiencing abuse, pain and trauma? So He saw the whole of her and really He was telling her to not commit adultery again for her own sake.  

Because it was an unhealthy form of escapism.  

Because it was just a coping mechanism that was causing her even more pain than the pain that led her to the sin.  

Of course God hates sin, but could it be His hatred for sin stems from His love for us? Could it be He understands that sin hurts us and He does not want to see us hurt?

It is with these revelations that I began to understand why I must be kind to myself. Because Jesus is kind. He is compassionate. And if I function as an unkind, compassionless person to myself, how can I have any hope of being kind to others? How can I have any hope of demonstrating the true purpose of the gospel? 

To be forgiven.  

And to sin no more.  

Because it hurts us.

Gal 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”…

SHALOM

 

Lord Help My Unbelief

  

Faith can be a tricky thing. The world’s view of a Christian’s faith is that of a person declaring they believe in Christ as Lord as opposed to Allah or following the teachings of Buddha or the many other religions that are out there. Even some churches may hold the view that faith is a onetime profession that gets you into the pearly gates securing your afterlife of pure bliss. But I’m learning, faith is a journey. One that takes you from glory to glory. In my journey it has been evident that there is no onetime anything. It is day to day. Test to test. A flow of happenings eventually pieced together to paint a picture of His intention toward me. A good intention, but one that simply can’t be accomplished w/o the power of Holy Spirit. To my discouragement. As I typically, subconsciously will try to do the works of Holy Spirit myself only to learn it’s impossible w/o Him.  I need His faith (Gal 2:20).  Not just the faith that gave me salvation as a child and filled me with the power of the Holy Spirit at age 19. But a faith that is cultivated and deepened in an unashamed dependency on Him b/c where I am weak, He is strong. So when I found myself in the arms of a perfect stranger, letting him do what it is men do in those circumstances, I had to take a step back. How did I get in this position? Because these things don’t just happen. At least not with someone who has been intentionally single. Sure there is the typical issue of lust and human desire and even pride. But as I let Holy Spirit lead me in reflection of peeling back the layers there was one answer that was staring boldly at me.  
Unbelief.  

I fell due to unbelief. As the days turned into months and the months turned into years, His promises that were so clear to me last year faded away. I became once again self-reliant and my self-reliance puffed me up and my pride gave way to disbelief.

There is such a delicate balance waiting upon the Lord and living a life of fullness and purpose. How do you fully engage in your present and still have expectation of your future? That is always my struggle and I’m not sure if anyone has the answer. Everyone’s story seems to be so different. As much as I desire there is no one else I can go to. I have to walk this out.  

My friend told me no one wants a perfect story. Others can relate to failure. In my head I know that’s true but my heart still doesn’t get it. I hate being messy. I hate flaws. I hate failing.  

I want the perfect story.

But even today I keep hearing Him say, “I don’t see your weaknesses the way that you see them. I see your weaknesses as opportunity.”

It is in this opportunity He is being glorified. Through my story. The one that is so not perfect.

He is faithful.  

I came across a pretty good discussion on singles and sexuality you can check out here if you’re interested.

 SHALOM