Do you ever feel like a failure? Are you a perfectionist? Do you get discouraged and even depressed when you see the same problems in your life day-in and day-out? Do you find yourself exhausted trying to please everyone in your life? Do you fear failure...or disappointing someone? Do you project your expectations on to others and get angry when they fail? Do you want to see changes in your life, but you just can't figure out how to make them happen?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then today's post is for you!
But back to my story. I was so blessed to grow up in a Christian home, a loving family, and a wonderful church family. I accepted God's gift of salvation at the early age of 8 years old; and because I was sensitive and wanted to obey, I didn't get into much trouble in my teen years. I went to the same private school my entire life, and was a very successful student there. I felt loved and accepted and I was able to perform at a top level, academically and socially.
And because I'm a perfectionist, my idea of performance was extremely high. So when I couldn't peform (which I can't, because I fail every day...I'm NOT perfect), I felt discouraged. Over time, I got depressed. I gradually began relating my value in God's eyes to my level of performance. For example, the more I went to church, taught Bible studies, performed in church ministries, didn't lose my self-control, etc., etc., the more God was pleased with me. On the flip side, the less I did of these things, the more God was displeased with me. I began thinking perhaps He was tired of dealing with me. I was frustrated with myself. Surely He was too. He would probably put me on a shelf soon. There are others who are better than me that He can use.
Now here comes the good part! God saw me in all my self-made misery; and because He loves me more than I could ever fathom, He guided me to some special people and reminded me of things that I knew in my head but needed to know in my heart. Simple things. But things that I needed to remember.
2) Through my friends, God guided me to FlyLady. I know that sounds funny! But I really think He did. You see, I know that He cares about the small details of my life, and part of that is managing my home (actually, that's a pretty big detail of my life)! I have seen amazing improvements in my housekeeping and really every area of my life. But what has ministered to me the most is FlyLady's overall philosophy...you don't have to be perfect! It was her website that first helped me to realize that my perfectionism was bogging me down and causing stress and strife in my life. Go check her out at http://www.flylady.net/!
4) Finally, God gently began reminding me of His love and grace. I won't go into all the details because this post is already super long, but through some different things going on in my life and with people that I love, God has shown me again how much He loves me! He's never going to give up on me. In fact, I'm His child and He values me in spite of my failings. He does not love me based on my performance. Let that sink in!! God does not love and value us based on our performances! He is not displeased with me. His grace has covered my entire life, and it's only through His performance that I will ever see any changes in my life. Wow! That really takes the pressure off of me and puts it all on Him. I can just rest in His grace!
Over the last two years, God has steadily shown me these things. I am now looking at my life through the lens of GRACE. Actually, I really try not to look at myself at all. I just look at Him and concentrate on Jesus and what He has done. He has already conquered sin and death! In MY life...not just in some general sense.
Sheila Walsh communicates this idea so well in her devotional book Good Morning, Lord!:
"It has taken me many years to understand that God wants you and me to simply embrace what he has already done for us on the cross and rest in that forgiveness, reconciliation, and renewed relationship with him. I have also discovered--and maybe you have too--that when I am trying so hard to live a good life, my focus is on me. All I see is where I am flawed and failing. But when I take my eyes off myself and my performance, when I instead focus on the love of God and the companionship of Christ, I find not only amazing joy but real peace too. Jesus wants us to live in his victory. He has already overcome the enemy. He has already paid for our sin.
Yet the power of sin and the presence of evil in this world are both very real--but neither one is any match for the love of God. After all, God is in the redemption business, and Jesus has said that his grace will be enough for whatever we face. There is nothing you or I will face today, tomorrow, or ever that we will face alone. Jesus will be there with us, and he will provide everything we need to walk through it."