I have a tendency to want to be perfect at everything I do. I am not a perfectionist in the way most people think--my papers in college weren't always the neatest, I don't have a whole lot of OCD symptoms, and while I am a bit germaphobic, I am okay with some clutter and some messes--rather I attack life with gusto. It's why we have to vacation away from home...if I am here I am striving to be the perfect on vacation mom and wife...and that usually serves to drive my dear husband insane.
The way my thinking works is that if I am going to do something, I might as well do it all the way.
If I am going to be a wife, I want to be an incredible wife.
If I am going to be a mom, I want to be an awesome mom.
If I am going to be your friend, I am going to be a true and loyal friend.
And I can list for you all the things that being that person means, point by perfect bullet point.
That mentality has transferred over into my relationship with God.
If I am going to follow Christ, I want to be a perfect Christ Follower.
And yet, the message of the cross is that none are perfect. None are able to reach God on their own merit. None can attain righteousness or holiness. Not if given the garden of Eden; not if given the Law; not if given prophets, judges, kings or promises. No one can do it on their own.
We need a Savior to be able to go to heaven, but we also need a Savior to live on Earth.
In striving to do all the things I thought God wanted me to do, I forgot the message of the cross and I made my own law. I forgot that God is concerned with WHO I AM more than WHAT I DO.
It was exhausting.
In our Leadership Training (which my husband wrote and led, and I was considered a leader of--ha!), we took 3 tests to help us see our Spiritual Gifts, our Learning Styles, and our Personality types. I knew mine, for I have taken many such tests, but it's what Daniel told us that has made such a difference.
The "Love" chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, which we so often use at weddings, is sandwiched in between 2 chapters about spiritual gifts. And in Corinth, the believers were elevating certain gifts, desiring certain gifts, and in general trying to do what I was trying to do--do something they were not called to do, something they were not gifted by God to do!
And Paul is telling them, be glad for who God made you to be. Use your own gifts and be thankful for them. And whatever you do, do it in love, for even good deeds that are done for wrong motives count for evil.
I don't need to be the perfect anything. I don't need to serve in every soup kitchen, go to 3rd world countries, start a preschool ministry, run a small group, teach a Bible Study, volunteer around the community, homeschool my kids, give money to each homeless person, pass out tracts on street corners....
I don't need to do any of those things, unless I am called by God to do them. I am free to focus on the specific things He has put before me, things I am capable of and passionate about, and I can let go of everything I have created to be important.
All of those things can be good things, but not all of them are what all of us need to do all of the time.
Instead, I will seek out the Lord, learn His ways, follow His Truth.
Instead, I will serve my husband because when I do, I serve my God.
Instead, I will love my children, teach them at home, be actively involved in their lives as long as God grants them to me, because THAT is what He has given me to do, and THAT is what I love.
Instead, I will spend my time helping women grow in their faith, to know what Scripture says, giving them practical wisdom in being godly women, wives and moms, because that is where my passion lies, and that is what I am good at.
I will be someone who cares for everyone. I will cheerfully serve and give. I will say yes as I am available, and no when it is right to. I will meet needs as I am able, but I am released of the guilt of not meeting every need, and being everything to everyone, because when I think I can, I try to become my own god.
As I look back on my life, the times I was closest to God were very busy times, but they were very focused. Years spent in youth ministry, with people in our home all the time, with hours poured into younger women, and hours poured into my kids. Months spent focused on a single mission, like sending shoes to Haitian children, or supporting a friend going through a horrible time. Those are the times in my life that I know I was being who God has called me to be.
And at the end of all my days, there will be no greater thing than to know I put my time, my energy and my love into the right things.