Yesterday I mentioned that I have lived most of my life trying to earn the approval of God. I believed I was redeemed, and by no doing of my own. But I also believed that 99% of the time my Heavenly Father was thinking one thing about me: “I’m so disappointed in you.”
Here’s how it came to a head this summer.
My counselor encouraged me to journal through some of my deepest fears. Here’s the list straight from the journal page:
- Fear of rejection.
- Fear of failure.
- Fear of disappointing others.
- Fear that at the end of my life I will be found wanting and faithless.
- Fear that I’m not doing or being enough.
These needs and fears keep me anxious, worried, frustrated, and discouraged. They cause me to keep walls up and to continue performing in my relationships with others and with God.
I’m like Sally Field at her acceptance speech for winning best actress. I desperately want to shout, “YOU LIKE ME, YOU REALLY LIKE ME!”
And yet, somewhere deep inside my heart I’ve known the truth, I just couldn’t take hold of it.
One side of my mind yells: GINGER, you can’t keep the law. That’s not the point. It can’t be done. The purpose of the law is to lead you to grace!
But the other side screams back: BUT you aren’t even really trying! DO MORE NOW!
Pendulum living is depressing. I will admit that freely to you today. For so long I didn’t live aware of God’s grace. My emotional highs and lows were often fueled by the grade that I awarded to my own performance.
And then one morning as I lay in hotel bed in North Carolina I knew I had to get up and pull out my journal again. I pulled back the drapes in the early morning light and fell to my knees in tears. I was just so tired. I felt as though God was speaking freedom to my heart in a whole new way. Here’s what I wrote that morning.
Ginger, will I ever be enough for you? You are all that I want. I just want you- your heart, your dreams, your ministry, your future, your relationships, your words, your comings and your goings. Have I asked you to try harder or did I ask you to come with me and get some rest? Won’t you come and choose what is best… sit at my feet?
That’s your fear, isn’t it? That I’m looking for BEST and you aren’t it or aren’t doing it and if you COULD just read, do, love, serve, give MORE… then I would turn to everyone else and say, “Look everyone! Ginger chose what was best!” That’s what you want, isn’t it. You want my approval.
My child, you have it. You always have. You always have.
Perhaps you also have performance tendencies like me. Friend, we weren’t made to perform. We were made to live in freedom and grace. When we choose to make guilt and shame our daily companions we do not accept the gift of God. Of course, there is the good kind of guilt that leads to repentance, but if you find yourself living out of fear rather than faith, chances are that grace is a vocabulary word and not a lifestyle. I know. I’ve been there for far too long.
But I’m not going back.
“What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.” (Galatians 2:19-21, MSG)
Here’s to grace-filed living…
GRACEFUL GIVEAWAY! Two copies of “Graceful” the book by Emily Freeman are up for grabs this week. Follow this link for details and entry form!
“Instead of holding so tightly to the outcome, I can know that God is with me in the process. Instead of working to be right on my own, I can choose to believe God is gracious toward me. He lives in me, and he wants to flow gracefully out of me in every situation.” (Emily P. Freeman, Graceful: Letting go of your try-hard life.)