Just some honesty today.
The events of this Monday reminded me what God has been trying to teach me over and over again for the last, oh, fifteen years. I'm in Houston for work, which is always crazy. Today I was leading a content meeting for the 70+ teachers I support, and I just felt "off". I felt like the day was not as good as it could have been from the start. There are lots of reasons why I felt this and lots of things that happened, some beyond my control. By lunchtime that little voice was pretty loud in my ear telling me that today was a failure and reminding me of all the things I could have / should have done better to prepare / troubleshoot / support / plan / react / execute / coordinate / lead. And by the end of the day, I was in tears. Just me alone behind my computer, beating myself up, afraid to look at the survey, dreading what people said about the day. Chalk it up to another day that I didn't live up to what I thought I could or should.
But just yesterday, Brent and I were studying the triumphal entry in preparation for Easter this week. Easter. This week. The very week I should be praising Jesus for his work on the cross for me and meditating on the amazing grace he has given me so that I NO LONGER have to strive or be perfect. Romans 5:18 says: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old is gone; the new is here.
So why do I relinquish the grace and peace that could be mine?
I have a huge issue with striving and perfectionism. In college it drove me to study all the time and stress myself out with 50 leadership positions and cry to my professor when I got my first "B". In my early years at YES, it drove me to stay at school until 8:30 and work until 10:30 at home and work all weekend and beat myself up for every dumb thing I did. In my later years at YES, it drove me to take on three or more full time jobs each year, even when I swore I would take things off my plate. It drove me to tears weekly from the stress and drove my blood pressure sky high. It's my innate desire for perfectionism and achievement that keep me striving, reaching, and stressed.
In my heart, I know that Jesus has paid it all! It is finished. There is no need to strive to be better, faster, higher up, more perfect, more accepted, more what people need, or just the better version of me. When Jesus looks at me, there is nothing I could to to make him love me less and nothing I could do to make him love me more. Nothing. He loves me just as I am with all of my shortcomings and failures and imperfections. How I long for that truth to sink in!
God has forced me to give up some of my striving and ambitions by moving me to Durham. Praise Him that I am FAR less stressed than I used to be. My life is slower, my job more humble, my ability to strive limited quite literally by circumstances and geography. I needed to be restrained; that's for sure. I feel that he is preparing me for another season of life with even less striving and less possibility for public recognition and less people pleasing. And I'm so grateful.
But today, I'm not in Durham. I'm in Houston, and all the old strivings have a way of fitting right back into place like a puzzle. I was rushing out the door to get to work super early (so things would be perfect at my content meeting), and I skipped my time with the Lord. I didn't read; I didn't pray. I was relying just on me.
The Lord is not through with me yet. I'm not a hopeless case. Today, I recognized the striving relatively quickly and identified my intense desire to please people. While I did cry, my second response was to remember what the Lord has done and not go completely to pieces. Today brings to mind one of my favorite Nichole Nordeman songs that speaks to this very issue I struggle with, and maybe you do too.
I don't mind
if you've got something nice to say about me.
I enjoy an accolade
like the rest.
But you can hang my picture in gallery
with all the "who's whos" and "so and sos"
who used to be the best at "such and such"...
It wouldn't matter much.
I want to leave a legacy.
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to YOU enough to make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering:
A child of mercy and grace
who blessed your name unapologetically
I want to leave a legacy.