6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
It’s funny. As I sat down to the keyboard and bible this morning I reflected on this being the midway point in this journey through the 50 Who I Am In Christ affirmation sheet. I began to wonder, what is the overall theme that really needs to get into my heart; what is it that I know already but struggle to actually believe and live out?
God nearly screamed the answer at me;
Perfectionism Destroys the Heart
One of my earliest trauma memories is one of not being able to please my father. On the scale of physical, sexual and emotional abuses it may not seem like much, but I believe this event and ones similar helped forge a profound mis-belief about myself.
I was a young pre-teen, maybe 12, and my father let me run the gas-powered lawn mower. I was so excited! I was gonna show him how his trust in me was not misplaced, that I could do a great job. I went round and round the yard, making sure to never miss a single blade of grass. I could see my father watching from inside the house but he never came out, he let me finish the task.
As I put away the mower, swept up the sidewalks and patio, and put away the last of the tools he came out. I stood before him with such anticipation of “job well done son”, but instead I received ” I noticed you went round and round but it’s better if you go back and forth”.
I was crushed, and I’ve spent over 40 years trying to prove to people and myself that I can do it correctly, that I can meet and even excel way beyond their expectations. I can complete any task with superhuman abilities, and I kill myself in the process.
Probably the worst of all, is that I’m realizing I never afford my self the luxury of saying to myself “job well done George”, and if others say that to me I figure they are just saying that to make me feel good, but they don’t really mean it.
God constantly is reminding me of this, that because of my incredibly deep rooted (and previously unknown to me) foundational feelings of worthlessness and fear of failure that I compulsively obsess on tasks in front of me, striving for a degree of perfection that never lets me rest in a job well done. It is always, “I could have done this, I should have done that, I forgot to do this”.
I’m never good enough for me; and I’ve taken that lie into my relationship and walk with God.
It is good to desire and strive to be all that I can be In Christ, but it is quite another thing to be on this hell-bent mission to become Mother Theresa or the Apostle Paul.
I think it is a good thing to desire and pursue the best God has for me, but I sense there is still a dark and cold cellar in my heart that continues to whisper, “look at your sin, you still fall so short, after all God has done for you and you still want to do things your way”?
I remember more than a year ago truly praying for God to break my heart for what breaks His. In those months following He graciously revealed deeper layers of selfishness that I need to die too, reliance on earthly atta-boys or recognition or rewards, and the funny thing is those rewards are unsatisfying and leave me unfulfilled anyway.
It was a humbling season in which I am very grateful for, but I’m beginning to realize that I perverted the truth that He revealed to me about me and I have been on an unholy quest for perfection ever since.
I think what today’s promise is revealing on a deeper level is that the process of “being built up in Christ”, progressive sanctification, is the very thing that brings joy to the Lord and which I can allow to bring me joy, hope and peace in the assurance that God is at work in me.
It is not I who must figure it out on my own, then do all the work on myself by myself and then wait for God to scoff at all the things I did wrong and reject my efforts. God is not infused with my earthly father traits, He is the God and Father of all creation with a perfect love that is unconditional, unfailing, faithful and forever.
I believe that a heart that is right with God, one that understands His true nature, is one that will be filled with gratitude for the journey, not one that is putting off joy and gratitude until the journey has been completed; living in fear that “I could blow it at any minute and then all bets are off”.
It’s like I’m waiting for my next inevitable failure so I can hear God say, “boy I sure had hopes in you George but I guess you weren’t capable of being my disciple, my mistake, you can carry on with your old pathetic life”.
I’m robbing myself of the joy that God has in store for me right now, today. As His adopted son, His rightful heir, as His disciple who is doing my best to share the Good News with those around me, I am not only allowed but I am encouraged to rest in His arms through gratitude and marvel at the Divine Works that He is doing in my life and in those around me.
In reality, for me to not be happy with where I am on this journey of redemption is not saying “I fall short”, but instead implying that God is not working fast enough or up to my standards of where I think I should be.
I said it once, it is worth repeating, perfectionism destroys the heart.
Perfectionism truly is a silent killer, one that works on the subconscious level robbing us of all the rewards that are rightfully ours to claim. Much as the farmer is allowed the first fruits of the harvest, a worker for God is allowed the rewards of the Spirit which claim the only truth worth claiming;
Jesus is Lord and Savior, and I am His, rejoice, be free, live, love, learn, laugh. He is risen, and those who yearn for Him have died to self and risen with Him.
A grateful-hearted servant of God serves others with joy, he does not see sacrifice as a loss of something but instead an opportunity to bless others with what is given to him by God’s mercy and goodness alone.
A selfish heart struggles to serve, presses on through gritted teeth and strivings beyond comfort in an effort to prove something, many times unbeknownst to the one doing it.
Life in the Spirit flows easily, an almost unearthly ability to stay grounded in the moment watching what God is doing and pitching-in however God leads, trusting in a unshakable faith that this moment is for my growth and His glory, regardless of the circumstance.
A life still spent in the flesh, even filled with good intentions will find itself tired, confused, directionless, doing waaaay toooo much, feeling stuck, avoiding uncomfortable situations and at other times holding back in fear of failure or insecurity.
I say that from experience. My mind, heart and spirit all love God passionately, but for the longest time now God has been revealing how much I still don’t love myself.
There is still a hurt, a wound under the surface that I’m not letting Him heal. Whether it is Satan telling me I need that old hurt, or I’m just hanging on to it for fear of the unknown, but clearly it is time to receive this promise this morning and know that I am so incredibly blessed, not because I have achieved anything, but because I am under construction by the Father of all creation, being made perfect by Him, for Him, because of Him.
Father God, You cut so deep into the brokenness this morning, in Your loving mercy you continue to speak over me and tell me who I am in You, why do I fight that Lord? Help me to surrender who I think I am Father God and continue to open my ears, eyes and heart to who You say I am. Show me a balance Lord, one that knows I fall short in the flesh but one that is then overwhelmed with a rejoicing that says Your redemptive work on the Cross is all I need. I do not devalue what You have done on purpose, it is the broken lies deep within my heart that continues to tell me I’m unworthy, of no value to man or kingdom, and are going nowhere. Those are lies Lord and I rest this morning in the grace and mercy that You are pouring over me and anyone who might be reading this that needs to know we are forgiven, loved and set free from the lies of abuse in our past. You have redeemed all of that and You have immeasurable promise of glory to come, not glory in us but Your glory which is showing us what we are capable of if we just trust You for everything. You know I profess being all in Lord but I hold back. Continue to reveal those unhealed areas of my heart, shine Your loving light into those broken crevices of self-doubt and fear so I may soar with the eagles in Your perfect Spirit of love. Thank you Jesus, in Your precious name I pray…