I come from a long line of perfectionists. I’m not going to list names because I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but you know who you are! That personality disposition has manifested itself in my life and I’m seeing it now more than ever.
It hurts to say it because the truth hurts sometimes, but at this moment I’m unemployed. I wasn’t forced or asked to leave; I chose to leave to relocate with my husband. This is the first time since 2004 that I’ve been without a job. At first, I thought I’d love the freedom and the break that unemployment would provide. I’d spend time renovating the house, sleeping in, meeting new friends, and exploring my new stompin’ grounds. But in reality, it’s been none of those things! It’s actually been quite the opposite. I find myself getting up when my husband gets up, so there goes sleeping in. I have made a couple of acquaintances, but haven’t even invited them over. How am I to make friends that way? I would like to work on house renovations and improvements, but have learned that it’s not as easy as it looks on tv! I don’t know anything about installing light fixtures, sewing and hanging scarf valences, staining wood trim, tearing down walls, and all those things that need done in this old, new house of mine. Sure, I can watch videos, but when it comes right down to it, I’m scared to try it. Why? Because I’m afraid of messing up. I’m worried I will fail. I’m fearful of not being perfect. I liked it so much better when my life was centered in and around people, places, and things that were ‘put together’ and established: my organized house, my decorated classroom, my talented students, my chorus lessons.
I was reading in my devotions this morning and came across this one sentence that really put everything into perspective. In her book “Jesus Calling,” Sarah Young writes the following: “Instead of seeking perfection in this fallen world, pour your energy into seeking Me: the Perfect One.” Psalm 46:10 (NET) echoes this. “Stop your striving and recognize that I am God! I will be exalted over the nations! I will be exalted over the earth!” I like the sounds of that….sounds so…perfect!
But some of the ways Jesus described blessing in the Bible seem to be a little different. In Matthew 5, in what is called the Beatitudes, Jesus refers to a whole range of people being blessed that I wouldn’t think of having a blessing —-
- Blessed are the poor in spirit
- Blessed are those who mourn
- Blessed are the meek
- Blessed are the peacemakers
- Blessed are you when people insult you…because of me
Jesus puts us in a topsy-turvy world with these words. Maybe blessing will bring about circumstances that humble us, so that we are poor in spirit. Maybe to be blessed will bring about mourning, so we can understand comfort. Maybe to be blessed will bring about strife, so we can learn to be peacemakers.
Our self-centeredness makes us want exactly what we want. What God is about is having a close relationship with Him and making us more like Him Sometimes that means having the opposite of what we think will be a blessing occur to us so that the blessing can follow.
So, when you are going through troubles it might just be God blessing you, you just haven’t seen the end results yet.
Today’s blog is a little different. Since our blog is centered around conversations of faith and life, we felt compelled to pay tribute to all the little ones who have lost their lives in the last 40 years since Roe v Wade, over 50 million of them.
We sympathize with women in hard, hard places making even harder decisions, so this is not to condemn, but honor the babies and to say that we believe that every child is a gift from God, fearfully and wonderfully made, created in His image. (Psalm 139:13-15)
Phil Keaggy shares our heart so well in this haunting song he wrote —
Do you ever wake up and just lay in bed for awhile, running over and over in your mind the challenges that you’re going to face that day? You get more and more anxious as you keep playing them out in numerous different ways. Or maybe you’re thinking about the ones that you faced the day before. You keep beating yourself up over saying what you said or doing what you did. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I have my troubles and challenges set on repeat. It’s like I store these short clips of my life on a shelf for easy access so I can watch, re-watch, and rehash them again and again and analyze them from every possible angle.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we put ourselves through the agony, guilt, regret, and anxiety of reliving or anticipating these difficult times in our lives? I don’t think God wants this for our lives. We are only meant to live through these times once not over and over. Reliving them only multiplies our suffering. Instead, we need to learn what we can from them and then offer them to God to be used for His purposes. God can use the rough and seemingly terrible times in our lives for good. He wants us to lay our burdens before Him (Matt 11:28) and be freed from the thoughts that bring us down.
Here’s one of my favorite songs that reminds me what I need to do with my troubles!
When my kids were toddlers my husband lovingly and skillfully made them a large toy boxo. I remember times they would grab specific toys and wouldn’t want to let go. Their little hands would turn from pink to white as they held on tightly and cried if someone tried to take it. At times they were holding onto something that they really didn’t know how to play with or had outgrown, but it was theirs and they wanted it.
That picture came to my mind one day when grappling with the idea of letting go of a good thing in my life. My schedule was busy and I could see this ‘thing’ was taking more and more of my time. The thought of letting it go was enough to make me grab tighter and cry.
In my mind I could see the toddler holding on while behind him (her) was this great big toy box with so many other toys. Ones that were colorful, challenging, and maybe more fun! But that toddler was so fixated on keeping what was in their hand that they couldn’t even see the other toys available if they would just let go of the one they had.
I think I’m like that toddler sometimes. I get so wrapped up in something that I can’t see how I could ever do without it, that it’s actually taking up way too much of my time or keeping me from more important pursuits. I hold on for dear life because I don’t want to lose it. And all the while God’s gently saying, if you are willing to give this up, I have others things I want to put in your hand that will be more fulfilling, help you grow and bring even greater enjoyment. As long as we fixate on the good thing we have in our hand, we can’t turn or see clearly enough the better thing He has to offer. (Rom. 12:2)
I never viewed myself as a very controlling person. I usually let others take the reins and just settle in my nice comfortable seat of following. Lately though, God has been revealing something to me…that I am a total control freak! I mean, not controlling of others, but of myself. Throughout my life I thought I was doing a pretty okay job at living my life for God when in reality I was making decisions based on myself and what I wanted out of life. God has been pointing out so many areas of my life that are still under ‘my control’.
I like to think about it like a house. I do feel like I’ve given Him access to quite a few rooms in my house…but I have some locked doors too, the keys to which I have a death grip around..I’ve hidden those keys so well I think that God will never find them! It’s like He’s standing outside of those doors, lightly knocking, waiting to be let in, but it’s just so hard to relinquish that control and hand over the keys! I think sometimes I pretend not to hear the knock and figure it must just be those shutters flapping in the wind again! But honestly, how come it’s so hard to trust God with every part of our lives? I think for me it goes right back to trust. Trusting that He is truly in control of all things (Col 1:16-17) , trusting that He loves me and that He really does have some kind of plan for even me!
I hope and pray that you and I can learn to trust this sovereign God more and more and start loosening our grip on those keys!