Last night after a leadership small group I have been a part of for the last several weeks, I got out of my car and was walking to the door of our apartment when I thought, "I try way too hard to please people." I seriously struggle with the desire to win the approval of others. I found myself exhaustingly convicted, worn out by the mental and emotional energy I have been giving to the thoughts others have or don't have of me. Lately I've found myself creeping into the pit of feeling like I'm failing. Self-righteous, I know...yet a struggle that has crept its way into my life many times over my almost 30 years of life.
See, I am not one who possesses the "gift set" that is often touted in our culture as desired or admirable. I guess I'm a fast typer, but that is the extent of my "administrative strengths." :) I am often shamefully unorganized, naturally messy, I struggle to focus on any one thing to completion at a time, I have many great intentions that go undone by procrastination, and I am chronically late. My heart drops even as I type those words, bracing myself for judgment and slander. I am even a teacher for goodness sakes!!! Yet my gracious, loving husband often gently reminds me that this is who I am. I immediately scoff at his words saying, "Oh no, I can change!!" Very often I plead with God to do just that, to change me, knowing that He alone can. Kevin smiles and reassures me that it is okay to be who I am. What if this is how God made me to be? What if it is through all of these things I am able to know Him more, or better yet, if how he made me to be allows me to point others to Christ? If I were to allow my own perfectionistic, unmet standards to overwhelm me, my so called inadequacies could easily cause me to curl up in a ball, ashamed to think anyone might really know who I am. But then again, if I had no weaknesses, would I really need a Savior??
Regardless of our striving, not one of us will attain perfection. When it becomes next to impossible to even see or think straight about what the world says about who we should be as opposed to what God says, we must run quickly to his Word. We must seek the answers to discover if the standards the world has set for us match up to who God has called us to be. Quite often, they do not. In our limited understanding and sinful humanity, we have projected expectations onto one another that are stifling. In our fears that someone might become a complete mess of life if we let them, we feel the need to cover them with our "wise" advice, give them solutions, and remind ourselves of all we have going because "at least we're not like them." Or maybe we hate on ourselves because we'll never be like "them." Either way, we neglect the precious opportunity to celebrate each other's uniqueness. The honest truth is, it often makes us uncomfortable to disagree with one another and to allow each other to fully become who we were meant to be, regardless of how different it looks than everyone else. In doing so, we neglect to delight in God's specific design of each individual, rather than reflecting Christ and his limitless grace; that which invites his precious children into an intimate relationship with him.
So here's what God is calling me to acknowledge as truth: I have weaknesses. Way more than I've shared with you here. Blaring ones, if you ask me. Yet isn't that the point?? Isn't this where my faith walk begins? My Savior says to me that his strength is made perfect in my weakness. This truth is as old as the song we sing about it..."Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong." I am not called to go around dwelling and whining about my weaknesses; instead, I am called to cry out for and acknowledge God's incomprehensible strength.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul talks about how he has been given a thorn in his flesh from Satan, to keep him from becoming conceited about the matter at hand. Read these next words carefully:
"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 1 Corinthians 12:8-10
The Lord loves you dearly. Grasp that truth with your whole heart and hold onto it. Quit pointing to yourself and hating what you see; rather, confess your weaknesses to others, following it with, "And yet, look at what my almighty God is doing in my life." Acknowledge your weaknesses in worship, overwhelmed with how deep the Father's love is for you, and how powerful he is to overcome. Then go joyfully, praising God for what he will continue to do in the days to come, in spite of your inadequacies, as you surrender to him. Be who you are...and acknowledge that you need a Savior. To God alone be the glory.