Have you ever had that pull on your heart? That ache that tells you that something is not quite right? The persistent call that tells you that you have messed up yet again? The one that makes you ask, “Why can’t I be better?”
It’s a feeling of shame, mixed with regret, all combined with a ton of guilt.
I hate these feelings sometimes. Even worse, I hate how I feel when I am not sure what I should do. I hate not knowing if I will ever “be better”, “do better” and “love better”. I hate feeling like I will never get it quite right. I hate feeling afraid to take the risk to go “there”.
Sin weighs me down. It crushes a spirit. It burdens a heart. It stifles a purpose.
Sin comes and:
It laughs at us
It makes us afraid
It shames us
It makes us uncertain
It tells us, “why bother?”
It condemns us
It defines us
It confirms we can never change
It makes us self conscious
It covers us in chains
It discourages us
It attempts to hold us back from our purpose
It steals peace
It embarrasses us
It robs us of joy
It knocks on the doors of our lives attempting to lure us. It stands ready to rob us. And after it does, it leaves us injured, broken and lying on the floor unsure what to do next.
But it is in this place of vulnerable pain where our hurts drive us to admission. It is in this place where we have to take a risk. Where we have to step out of our comfort zone.
And, it is in this exact place where God is best seen. This is where we see him from an authentic, open and receptive heart. And, when we come to God, he heals and binds up our pain better than we could have ever imagined.
When we confess, and move towards God through changed actions, he comes to us – and we come to him.
And he says:
I forgive you
I love you
I will embrace you
You are my workmanship
Your actions don’t disqualify my plans
Your sin doesn’t mean you can’t win
Your ways don’t supersede my ways
I am more successful than your failures
My grace extends further than your guilt
I live inside of you. I can’t give up on myself.
You are more than a conqueror because of Christ Jesus.
You are my work-in-progress
Do you believe me?
If so, let it go. As far as the east is from the west. Let. It. Go.
Watch me work.
I can change you.
I am perfecting the beauty that is “me” within you.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)
SEE YOUR BEAUTY. You are absolutely beautiful to God, just as you are.
You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. (Song of Songs 4:7)
God loves you. Choose today to believe in the depths of your heart that God does not look at you and see a list of flaws, of shortcomings and of failures. He sees beauty. He sees a treasure that he loves. One that he created. He sees a child of God, his own child.
For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. Deut. 7:6
God doesn’t look and define you by your shortcomings, failures and your lack of _____.
Instead, you are defined by greatness – His greatness. He chose you, my friend. You belong to God – not because of anything you did – and certainly not because of your goodness. But, because of your beauty – in Him.
When we believe that God accepts us because of him, the spotlight can come off of us. When we believe that he loves us because of his love, we can stop harping on failures. When we believe that he is greater than us, we can finally stop feeling so weak.
God’s love surpasses our limitations. There is no moderation. What he gives, surpasses expectations.
We expect to be pushed away for our failures, but God draws us near. We expect to be cast aside for our weaknesses, but God makes us strong. We expect to be ridiculed for our flaws, but God comforts us.
He knows we fall short. This is the point. This is why we need Christ. This is why we need grace and forgiveness. We need his saving work to be righteous – in Him. His grace. His love.
The real beauty is that it is all about Him. We are beautiful because of Christ. He makes us beautiful.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12).
God looks at you, his child, and says:
“You are beautiful.”
“I want to lavish love upon you.”
“I know you sin, but, as you confess, I extend you my grace.”
“Be guilty no more, I have come to your rescue.”
“Let go and trust me to refine you.”
“Do not fear yourself. Let my perfect love cast out fear.”
“I love you as I have created you, you are my work in progress. I know what I am doing. You are beautiful.”
Do you get frustrated at your failings? Do you feel less than sometimes? Do you feel unloved? God sees you and he sees beauty. It is time you see your beauty too – not because of you, but because of Him.
I try to so hard to “do good”. I try so hard to keep everyone happy. I try so hard to keep things in order, to make others feel good, to do things the right way, to be all that I can be – and to be who others want to see.
I try and I try and I try. But, I fail and I fail and I fail. It can be tiring. It leaves me worn, discouraged and wishing I could be better than – me.
Even worse, I notice that in my pursuit of perfection, I tend to hurt others. I don’t want to do this. But, I do.
It is a common day, when simple words of feedback, turn into living giants of criticism. They come and tower over me with pointed fingers, telling me that I am not “good enough”, “talented enough” or “wise enough” to handle life. They push me to strive harder and reinforce the idea that I am failing.
Why do we let these giants hold so much power?
When we seek to set our own worth, we fail. Because only One defines worth.
Any worth found outside of Him is worthless.
God writes the definition of who we are – and why we are.
I may seek worth in bills paid, things in order and a happy family, but God gives us his worth. We are worthy because we are his children, loved and fully accepted.
God has a greater glory is greater than our manufactured version. His glory surpasses expectations. It exceeds our wildest dreams. It is bigger than you or me. But, we miss seeing it when our mind is focused on our perfect ways.
His glory unfolds in the midst of weakness. In the place of imperfection. In the land of mess.
God is greater than our perfect. He shows up in our faults. He is present in our weaknesses.
This is where beauty is unveiled; and I want to see it. Christ makes my imperfect – perfect. Perfect in Him, as I trust Him.
I want this better way. Let’s remind ourselves of God’s truth as we move towards him with authentic, open and receiving hearts. He will be faithful to touch us in just the right way.
Bible Verses for Perfectionists:
1. “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect” (Psalm 18:32)
His strength is power.
2. “Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14)
We are being made holy. We are a work in process.
3. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Psalm 118:6)
He is greater than any barrier that stands in front of us.
4. Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 103:8)
His mercy does not end for us because he loves us.
5. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God… (Eph. 2:8)
Grace is always ours, even when we fail.
6. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:14)
He made us beautifully. We can believe this.
7. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:13)
He holds us and loves us; his hand won’t let go of us – ever!
8. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29)
His ways are easy, when we truly are in them.
9. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)
We are not perfect. He is.
10. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor. 12:9)
Let us be weak, because we can then be strong in Him.
God doesn’t view our weaknesses as obstacles to closeness with him; he sees them as opportunities for growth as he loves us.
This random Saturday morning, I had no idea that being stuck in NYC traffic was going to teach me a life-changing lesson on how to take charge of your expectations…
When my son laid eyes on just about the biggest big rig ever seen, his eyes light up as bright as a kid on Christmas morning.
“Roll the window down!” he yelled.
With utter urgency, his little fist started pumping – up and down, up and down. This would have been really cute, except for the fact that I was contending with New York City stop-and-go traffic.
Getting directly next to this truck was going to be a feat in itself. With 2 kids sitting in the backseat on the verge of tears and on the brink of disaster, I knew what I had to do.
“Super Mommy” needed to come to the rescue – in a big way!
Nothing would stop me from making my little boy’s dreams come true.
Finally, after much breaking and accelerating, I got my son in perfect hand thrusting position! Yes!
The driver was delighted. Mikey was delighted. I was delighted. Everyone was happy. We all shared a moment of fun as the truck let out a massive “honk!”. Victory! Happiness! Joy! The truck driver and I threw out some quick pleasantries, a couple of laughs and then he kept on truckin’.
Meanwhile, on one of the busiest freeways of NYC, I was guilty of the unthinkable! I let two cars slip into line in front of me. I inadvertently left open the tiniest of gaps on a freeway where most people don’t give you an inch. And, in true New York fashion, these opportunist drivers took advantage of my gap.
Our final moments of celebration were cut short when the SUV behind us pulled his car right next to ours. With a red face and a quickly moving mouth, he signaled me to roll down my window.
Anxiety welled up in me. I knew what was coming. Afraid, I rolled down my window down.
His anger was palpable, “What is wrong with you? You let two cars get in front of you! What are you doing? Pay attention lady!”
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
Some way, some how, God gave me peace as I responded to this man. He needed peace. So peace I gave him, not as the world gives.
I felt for him.
In his own attempt to get ahead, to be effective and efficient, he turned into a mad man. The irony of the situation is that, after he yelled at me, he cut up the line and gained a significant head, but as traffic freed, much to my discomfort, we still ended up side by side further down the road. All his maneuvering made no difference in his ultimate progress.
We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. (Proverbs 16:9 NLT)
In his quest to rush, to get ahead and to power through, he got nowhere. His impatience didn’t propel him forward; it landed him right where he would have been if he had kept his cool.
How often are we like this man? How often do we have expectations that rule us?
Expectations Can Drive Us Mad
You may be thinking, I would never be like “that”! But, I find I’m guilty of being a “mad woman” too. I often take measures into my own hands to get things “accomplished”. I rush to get to my “destination”, only to get frustrated when others hold me back. I “speed” to the least populated checkout lines at the store and become agitated when the cashier is the “slow” one. I rush through bedtime stories with my son, in order to arrive at my “chill time”.
Unsaid expectations can rule me. I think, “How dare “that person” mess up “my plans”, get in “my way” or “hold me” back?”
These expectations leave me sad, upset and irritated when things don’t go my way.
Are expectations just demands wrapped in a bow to cover their ugliness? Is God even present in these demands? Or, is he just the one we feel upset at when we don’t get our way?
How To Take Charge of your Expectations
God doesn’t give us what we want. He doesn’t answer us. He doesn’t hear us. And, others hinder our success. They block our lane. They get us “stuck”.
With all this focus on our personal progress, we miss big opportunities. The opportunity to love. The opportunity to serve. The opportunity to encourage. The opportunity to witness, to see God’s glory and to understand truth. Why? Because our one-track mind speeds to our destination of choice – and the needs of others become the red lights that stop us.
What are your destinations? Maybe it’s education, maybe it’s a ministry, maybe it’s getting your kids into the best schools, maybe its your comfort, maybe its saving money, maybe it’s climbing the professional ladder, looking great for a playgroup, decorating your house, taking care of your yard, buying that house or (fill in the blank).
Are you missing the journey, the glory, and the people who need you?
Let’s not drive in vain. Let’s slow down and see the scenery that God has set before us. Let’s take a minute to look around,
soak it in and delight in the glory the Lord is displaying.
Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)
The truth is God hasn’t – and won’t – forget about us. He knows our dreams, our hopes and our wishes. He knows what we hope for. He knows us. We don’t need to rev up our cars and fill up our tanks in vain – he has an unlimited supply of gas for us, when we trust him. He will get us where we want to go- in his timing. Do you trust Him?
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
When we let go of our need for speed, we will be freed- freed to love, freed to experience peace and freed to see Him work.
God has something special prepared for us in the midst of our “traffic”. If you feel like you are stuck and you don’t know how to take charge of your expectations – the answer is that you don’t take charge. Instead, you let go of your will and surrender to His.
He will take care of you. He sees you. He has big plans for you – for his glory.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matt. 11:28)
Release your expectations into His Hands. To Take Charge of Your Expectations – you let him take charge.
You will be amazed at what He does.