I can be so hard on myself.
As a child I remember if I ever got a B on a test, it felt like an F to me. My parents told me over and over, “as long as you tried your best that’s ok,” but to me, it was a failure. As an adult I can see where this has manifested in other areas of my life.
I have strived for so long to be the best mom, the best wife, the best leader, to have the best body I can have, the best friend, etc., etc., etc., and I finally reached a point that I broke. I remember having a breakthrough while counseling about my marriage when I suddenly started screaming and crying, “Do you know how hard it is to have to be everything for everyone??!!” My pastor told me these words that stuck with me.
“That is a very heavy burden that you were never supposed to carry.”
He was right. In my striving for perfection I could never attain and in my trying to make everyone else love me through my performance, I realized that I was like a hamster on a wheel. I was exerting a whole lot of energy, yet going nowhere. The burden was heavy because the only one who ever had the capability to carry it all was Jesus. I physically felt a weight leave my body that night. Suddenly I felt light on the inside.
It can be extremely frustrating when you feel you’re doing everything “right” and it still not working out how you want it to. When you are in the perfection mindset, chances are your performance will never be good enough because, shocker, you can never be perfect. The only perfect one is again Jesus. We are created in His image and should strive to be like Him, but we are also human beings and sinners. We are no one’s savior, yet we try so hard to be when we act in this way. We are called to love, but there’s only one true Savior.
I realize now that my kids love me exactly the same even when I can’t take them to every event, am sick in bed and can barely move, or when I make mistakes in parenting. I realize now my husband’s love doesn’t waver when I disappoint him or don’t compare in areas to other wives. I realize my true friends love me even when I can’t “perform” and am weak in my emotions. I tried forever to just be a shoulder to lean on and give encouragement, all while living in fear of letting others into my vulnerable places because I didn’t know if they would reject me. Funny thing is that when I finally started allowing others in, I felt MORE love than ever before. The people who are for you and love you will accept you, flawed and all. Now that doesn’t mean you can treat others poorly and they should just accept it. But a pure heart will shine over performance any day.
Most importantly, I’ve learned I don’t have to strive for God’s love. My A+ performance doesn’t give me a One-Up on His affection. I can lead every ministry there is or sit in a pew, and He loves me just the same. I realized in my striving that it led to a lot of disappointment and guilt that was never of God, EVEN WHILE DOING THE WORK OF GOD. The anointing is not there when it’s forced or from a place of obligation. He wants a cheerful heart. I can now just sit in His presence and say, “Lord, I’m broken. I thank you that you love me regardless. Show me where I need to move, but also show me where I need to be still.” There is complete freedom from the bondage of performing in just that simple prayer alone.
I have failed. It’s what I’ve done. But I’m not a failure because that would be who I am, and who I am is actually an imperfect child of God. I am so very grateful today for the freedom of the burden I was never meant to carry. I now can focus on what God is actually calling me to do. This blog was oddly enough birthed in that time of my revelation. It’s funny how when we clear out what we do out of obligation or performance, we have more effort and time to put into what will really benefit us AND OTHERS! Our striving can actually do the opposite of what it’s intention may be! In trying to be everything to everyone, we are in reality being selfish because it’s what FEELS good to us and relieves temporary guilt. That’s good stuff.
Lay down your burdens and take on Jesus. It sounds cliché but I promise you, there’s complete freedom in it. Get off the hamster wheel and use your energy for what will benefit you and others around you.
We are all hot messes, but we are all loved regardless.