On New Years Eve my family went to the new years eve skate at the coliseum our church sponsors. I was enjoying skating not really thinking about anything in particular and then I noticed there was a song playing. I recognised it as: "Jesus friend of sinner's" by Casting Crowns. You need to go to utube and listen to it because it is awesome! I have heard it lots of times and have always liked it. I enjoy how the song talks about not judging people, but loving them instead. This is a value I have been passionate about since I was young. But on New Years eve the song hit me in a completely different way. It overwhelmed me and healed me as I was gliding along amidst all those people.
I have struggled since I was a teenager with feeling like I am a failure especially when it comes to my Christian walk. I think it stemmed from being a perfectionist and feeling like I had to be perfect for God to be pleased with me. I felt like He was angry every time I made a mistake and when you are a perfectionist you make a lot of mistakes! This tainted my life and made everything a struggle. I thought that life was just hard and that was the way it had to be. I thought that when God said we would have trials that the fear and sense of failure I was experiencing were the trails God was talking about. So I just figured I needed to try harder to be perfect and endure all the emotional stress, failing brought on. But I see now that I endured the very things that Jesus died to free me of.
What sort of things were effected by my perfectionism? Everything I did was effected! For instance, once when I was helping out with our youth group, I created a permission slip for snow camp but forgot to change the date from last years slip. Handing out a permission slip with the wrong date ruined my entire day. Looking back I can see how silly this was because in the grand scheme of things it really did not matter to anyone else that the date was wrong. The youth knew that the permission form was obviously for this year not last year. My whole day made up of numerous events like the permission slip; of me judging myself, and finding myself lacking. It was like I was continually playing this game to trying to be perfect and keeping score in my head. If I lost any points during the day I would feel like a failure which led to depression and feeling like I did not deserve anything good. But looking back I wonder if maybe I was trying to fix the hole in my soul, by being perfect. I was sexually abused as a kid and it really messed me up inside. I did not deal with what happened, or go to God to heal me, I just buried it all and tried to pretend nothing was wrong. I think I was trying to fix my broken heart by being perfect and I felt that if I could just not make any mistakes the hurt deep in me would go away. The devil had me right where he wanted me. This attempt by myself to fix the problem added a huge amount of pain and stress to my life. There was no way I could be perfect so this just made my failures more painful, and spiralled me further into hopelessness. I was haunted by condemnation and felt unworthy and insecure, but all the while, I was careful to not let others see my weakness. I taught others about forgiveness and grace but felt it did not apply to me.
So when I was gliding along and I heard the song about Jesus being a friend of Sinners I had an epiphany. I realised that all the things I felt God was mad at me for - where sins! That made me a sinner and the song said that Jesus was a friend to sinners! This song about God's grace did not just apply to others but to ME. God was not mad at me or even expecting me to be perfect he was wanting me to grasp His forgiveness and fully embrace His love for me. He died to free me from sin, and did not expect me to try harder but to trust Him. I couldn't do this on my own and I was not meant to even try. Which is why my life was such an endless, epic fail. I was hoping that being good would impress God and somehow fix my broken
soul. But trying to be good without God actually fueled pride and
separated me from God. God is so not impressed when we try to be good
on our own. The fact that I failed so often, when I tried in my own strength, was no surprise to God. God was so aware of our weaknesses that He sent Jesus to die on the Cross to be our SAVIOR. I totally missed the crux of Christianity : the fact that I needed a Savior to save me from my sin. Not just to forgive my sins so I could have a relationship with God and get into heaven, but to free me from the power of sin in my everyday life.
All that pressure I had been putting on myself slipped away as I grasped that God's grace and mercy applied to me too. I did not have to be perfect to please God, and my righteousness came from Jesus. Relief overwhelmed me as I realised God loved me just as I was - a sinner - someone who makes lots of mistakes. I did not need to marinate in condemnation when I blow it, but accept God's forgiveness, rejoice and move on. All the shame I had been holding for years, washed away. I could
finally admit that I was not strong and that I had huge issues and that I
was not the wonderful Christian I was trying so hard to be. By believing all of Satan's lies I had tortured myself for years - wasted years. But the the comfort that was flowing into my life as I skated around was so freeing. Being free from
pride and shame felt amazing. I had been trying so hard to have it
all together - it felt great to have permission to be a mess. It was going to be ok because my success did not rest in me but on God. I didn't need to try to be good on my own strength. That was not my job! I could trust God to transform me and if I stay close and listen and obey, He will lead me and change me. While I was writing this blog another Casting Crowns song came on that describes how I don't have to figure it all out by myself. It is called, "Just be Held." It is not by trying harder, that I become someone God is pleased with, but by trusting more completely in God, and surrendering all to Him.