Saturday, September 09, 2006

When "me" gets in the way of what I want.

I have often said that I am a recovering perfectionist. Not that I have ever been good at being a perfectionist - but I sure seem dependent on the pursuit of it at times. The sin of it in me runs deep. Ironically, like most sin, what I try to accomplish in myself by pursuing it only ends up creating more of the very pain I am trying to avoid.

What my perfectionism results in is depression, anxiety and anger. I can look around in 20 different directions and see things I need to do better.

- I need to be a better mom. More patient, more intentional. Less angry or frustrated. I need to play more.
- I need to be a better spiritual guide to my kids. They need to get the first of me, not the last of me. Why don't they have verses memorized yet?
- I need to be a better wife. And cook more. And not be grumpy.
- I need to be a better daughter, sister, daughter-in-law , granddaughter and friend. Besides this blog, I stink at writing and calling those I love.
- And if I would organize our finances better we could get ahead faster. And if I would clip more coupons, and shop at more than one store, and cook all of our meals once a month, then I could do more stuff.
- And I need to be a better secretary. And mentor. And Christian. And, well person, in general. I'm just not really good with people.
- And if I could get up every morning at 5:00 and get in both my prayer time, bible study AND exercise before my kids get out of bad, the whole day would go smoother.
- And if I could get in bed by 10:00pm and fall asleep by 10:30, I could get up at 5:00. Then I wouldn't depend on a nap because I get up at 5:45 and go to bed at 11:30. And THAT would leave more time to get stuff done.... Why do I always seem SHOCKED when dinner time and bed time roll around... because I'm not done with stuff!

You can see how my thoughts go on and on. I can't do it. I'm mad at the world because I can't do it. I get mad at the world because I can't do what I think it wants me to do. I can't do what I want to do.

Now I share all of that not because I need consoling or affirmation, but because I don't think I'm the only one who has those thoughts. They may take different forms, but most of us are pretty skilled at being frustrated with ourselves, and consistently aware of how we don't measure up.

But it's the measuring up that is at the heart of the problem. Why do I want to measure up? If it were some noble reason, and sometimes it is, okay. But really, if I'm honest to the core of my thoughts, .... most of the time my wanting to measure up is rooted in selfishness. I don't want to fail. I want to be a success. I want to accepted. I want to be liked. I want to make a difference. I want to mean something to somebody. I want to be important, good, appreciated, valued, credible, consistent, wise, worthy, nice, kind, personable.... I want to be valued..... I want to be loved. I don't want to be or do anything that could result in the opposite.

"I", "I", "I". There was a time when my grappling with this concept led me down the course of understanding our unconditional my acceptance and love from God was. How life changing that was and is. To know the consistency of His mercy! To trust His affection and acceptance. He covered me in His Son's blood. How more intimate can a relationship be?

And while I feel grounded in the understanding of His acceptance & love, I find that the battle with me is not over. Motivations may change, and become more noble, but "I" still seem to be at the center of them too often. Bible study would start with what He would teach "me" ( so "I" could become wiser), and prayer time consisted of what "I" would need to present to Him for intervention. The list begins again....

This week I have tried to focus on being done with me. I don't need more strategies on how to become better at more, but I need simplicity and decision to just make my life about worshipping God. My time in the morning... is spent with Him, but listening with humility to what He would change in me through His word. I have tried to take captive the first thoughts of the day.... so that they would be on Him, and not on me or what I have to do or what problems I think I face.

Do you know how hard that is? Have you ever thought about how much you think about yourself? All the time. I talk to myself more than anyone else, and I talk about me to myself more than anyone else.

I can choose to not think about me, and begin thinking on God, and without apology, 'me' will interrupt myself!!!!

Today.... I decided to sleep in. And I rationalized reasons why the day was okay for me to just go on and not pray in depth or read or study or meditate. It wasn't a sin. But it was enough room for "me" to take over the leading of my day, and the results were disastrous. Until this evening when my husband sent me off to pray. (Thanks Cindy - for the reminder through Eli that any day can be turned around....)

I want to be a nobody who just needs Him at any cost. Not because "I" will be better, but because He is worthy of my thoughts being on Him day and night. Ironically... it changes how I think... about my children, my husband, my relationships, my finances, my day, my problems, my time... my nothing. He is amazing, and puts all of life in perspective.

It will take practice to be okay with being a nobody. But the peace found in His Perfection is more than enough to compensate. I'm finding it is pure joy.


Carolyn said...

Thank you Heather for your honest reflections in this post - I really connected with it and gleaned wisdom from it. Thank you for reminding me to be less strategic and more simple in my day to day life - and to give Him the attention that He deserves.

Struggling against perfectionism with you,

john said...

Heather, thank you so much for this. Every day can be turned around.... yeah, I definitely needed that today. Have you ever heard of Nate Sallie? He's good. I always love reading and thinking about humility and submission. Few times I enjoy doing it, though.

azeneth said...

I can relate to the whole "me" thing. Wanting to do more, to be better, to measure up and the what "ifs". At the end I end up frusterated, upset and angery. Taking it out on other people, but when I am able to catch myself and focus on him the whole perspetive really changes.

Dad said...

God has a purpose for each of us and since we are made in his likeness, and we have been brought to Him, cleansed, through His blessed Son, we should never feel that we are "nothing".
Remember and read again, Romans 8;1-4!!! There is a very inspiring message in two words "No Condemnation". No matter what we do, say and feel, the Lord has taken care of it by shedding his blood and dying for us. Such a blessed gift!! Our sins were taken and all we need to do is follow him, Recognise our weakness, admit our sins and He will Keep us in a state of NO CONDEMNATION". Very important words that we keep in our minds. I know who you are and I also know some of the pains and difficulties you have dealt with. I know also that you are a very special person, who loves her Children, Husband, extended family, and is always striving to be worthy of the gift that God gave us. GRACE, NO CONDEMNATION, and also remember that each time you pray to Him to forgive the mistakes made, He tells us that He "Will Remember NO MORE'.
Please, as your father and someone who admires you so much for what you have done with your life, remember that you are someone important, loved by both family, friends and most important God. He loves you, I love you, Jason loves you, your Children love you, your friends love you, Your Mother loves you. I think what you might need to do is start Loving yourself and realizing that you are a servant of The only God there is. As a servant, you are a blessed person and will be until God see's that You have accomplished what He set you on this earth for.
Well You have got Your old Dad going this evening But I needed to say these things. I know that I peronally have failed many times, both in your life and my own but I take comfort in the fact that I can approach God Humbly, Walk hand in hand with Him, Talk with Him, and rest all my problems with Him, and know that there is "No Condemnation" because of His Son. Keep this in mind, Read My favorite Book in the Holy Word, and confort will be yours in times of struggle, being to busy and feeling that you are not achieving what You think you should.
May His blessings be on you always.
I love you so much!!