Confessions of a Perfectionist

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Note from the Author: This is an extremely honest look at pride, specifically within my own life. I am not in anyway shaming hard labor or attempting to glorify God with our all, but simply the pride that has risen within due to my perfectionism. 
The wind whipped across my face as I rushed up the hill towards my college’s science center. Frustration, from my inner critic, slowly built itself deeper and deeper with each determined push.  “Eliza, you could have worked harder on that exam. How come you received an 92%? Seriously girl, you could have done so much better on that paper.”
My problem? I am a perfectionist. The type of perfectionist that refuses to labor hours on end to complete a project to perfection. It is a level of work that is drenched in pride. A way that I view my work and how it compares to others. To be perfectly honest, my flesh loves this aspect of myself. I love the congratulations, the hard labor, the early mornings, and the accomplishments. Yet the Lord has been graciously stripping this away from me. I am in no way a finished project, however I know that this characteristic of my personality must be reigned and ruled by the King of my life.
Not only has this pride affected by personal work style and level that I called myself too, but it has also greatly influenced my view of God’s level of perfectionism. For many years I have battled the guilty shame that drenches my soul. This shame and condemnation often comes knocking at my door, during moments of my greatest weakness. “Eliza,” the looming voice billows, “How can you call yourself a Christian? You are in no way perfect. You might as well surrender and stop this nonsense of attempting to achieve a holy life. You will never accomplish this.”
Though these voices of guilt and condemnation call out to me, the good Shepherd will whisper His sweet assurance to my soul.
“His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
 the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (Psalm 107:10-11) It is not in my strength or holiness that causes my Father’s face to shine on me. But it is within the seeking of him, despite my failures, that I learn of his unfailing love for 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.” (2 Cor. 12:9)
Dear friend, many times I fear approaching God. I tremble because I fear that my level of perfection would not satisfy Himself. Yet this is not so, it is within our weakness, that He is glorified. His precious blood, is more then enough to satisfy the need for justice, and within the fact I can rest.
For when I loose my way, He is still mighty to save.
When I am unable, He is still able.
When I am weak, He is still strong.
When I am faithless, He is still faithful.
Approach the throne of God, knowing that it is His perfection, not ours, that sustains us.
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In Sickness and in Health

Silence filled the beautiful chapel on a bright summer afternoon as a bride  walked softly down the aisle. Her hair was gently twisted back as she presented herself to her beloved, clothed in a simple, yet elegant, gown. We all took our seats and listened in anticipation as the bride and groom exchanged vows to one another.
“I take thee to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance.”
These words have often been repeated at weddings, and with the repetition I often fail to remember the meaning and importance of these vows. Yet during this summer day, Jesus began to whisper to my soul as I witnessed my friend’s wedding. “Eliza, do you not know that I have the very same vow for you?”
Puzzled, I asked, “How Lord?”
“Eliza… I will never leave you. In the best days and worst, I am there with you. During sickness and health, I never leave. I will always love and cherish you until death when we meet.”
We serve a God who is faithful unto death.
A God who whispers in our weakness. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5)
Yet just as at a wedding, the bride also has a set of vows to state, a set of promises to keep, we, too, have a commitment to the Lord.
The bride of Christ, the church, has the commitment to be faithful. We are called to not leave our first love. (Rev. 2:4)
We are called to trust His faithfulness, even in darkness, when we don’t understand. In wealth, and poverty, we are to cling. In sickness and in health, we are to trust His faithful hand. In the good and bad times, we are to be faithful to seek Him. “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him!” (Job 13:15)
May we, the bride of Christ, always be ready for His coming.
“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.” (Rev 19:7)


Community… A Need?

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“I don’t need anyone’s help,” I thought to myself as I contemplated attending church one morning. Being an introvert, I find it much easier to hide from crowds and to simply keep to myself. It is safer, in my mind, to not risk being hurt or betrayed by friends or companions. Perhaps you are like me and prefer the silence found within a simple walk in a meadow. Perhaps you would much rather have a mug of steaming coffee by yourself, compared to having a lively conversation with a group of friends.

Yet God did not create us to live this life alone. During the creation of the world, God declared, “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) The Creator went out of His way to state that us humans were not meant for a lonely life. We were created to have communion with others.

Thousands of years later, God showcased this need for communion by creating the Church body. “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ, we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:4-5)

Not only does our community with God’s people strengthen and build up each other, but it also allows God’s presence to be evident. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20) Yes, we can have communion with Christ on an individual basis. However, there is a special aspect found within the Body of Christ.

I leave you with this verse, as both an encouragement and conviction. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10: 24-25).

Dear friend, how are you going to practically build community within your life? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Pain~ Sickness~ Life

IMG_0291Some days the battle to rise from my mattress is bone breaking. The pain of life, and chronic illness is leach sucking. At times it would be all the more easier to turn my back to the morning light and to shut out the light. Nonetheless, I don’t! Every morning I am faced with the defining choice, the distinction. Will I rise and fight for my life? Battle to make a difference, or allow the darkness of depression and illness to overwhelm my very soul?

Every dawn, I rise in God’s strength to face another day of unknowns, falls, weakness, and frustration. Every day, He proves faithful to my soul. Every moment I have a choice. Will I make the enemy pay for the struggle He has brought, or shall I turn within and focus on my struggles?

Friends, life is to short to waste it only on yourself. Yes, it is healthy, and even necessary for you to care for your needs; emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. Yet, do not allow yourself to become consumed by your own struggles. Use your weakness instead as a catalysis into understanding and relating to others.

The Enemy of our souls is attempting to bring pain and darkness into this world. However, that is not his only agenda. His goal is to bring death. He will at all costs attempt to kill those of this earth, God’s beloved. We, as Christians, are being used to fight against this enemy and his horrid plans.

How can one fight the good fight, you may ask. We fight the good fight when we stand in Christ’s strength even when we are weak. When we spend time with the outcast at school, even though it goes against cultural norms, we fight the good fight. When we change the channel, to honor Him and fight the good fight. It is in the little moments of each day.

So, whether your battlefield is within your hospital bed, your cubical office, or by the kitchen sink, fight the good fight.

 

Who am I? The Questions of a College Student, Part One

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Ah… The questions so often feel my mind: Who am I? What does being a Christian college student mean in this day and age? What is the purpose to life?

Though not complete, here is a short list of who we are in Christ. As Christians, we have taken upon ourselves the identity of Christ. His perfection, becomes our own.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Cor. 5:17

Newness… It is the cry of a child as they breath in their first breath of air. It is the unfolding of a butterflies wings for the first time. It is the changing of night to day. The old being thrown aside as a newness is embraced.

Dear brother or sister, in Christ you are a new creation. The past is in the past. It is not you anymore. You are freed from it. Those sins that you are ashamed of, they too are wiped away, a tale from the past.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

You are royal.

You are chosen.

You are called.

You are holy.

You are in His light.

 

The Sacrifice of Surrender

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“No God… No.” I cried out in my bedroom as I rocked my 15 year old self. Tears flowed from my eyes as I sought the Lord on my knees that night. Within I battled the fear that overwhelmed me. I feared trusting God. I wanted to, yet at the same time I longed to cling to my ways.

We have all, as Christians, have those moments where we must choose surrender. Those moments where we battle letting the Lord rule and control the outcome or our own willful selves.

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Romans 12:1

Before Christ, the Israelite nation had been commanded to sacrifice the first born of their livestock to the Lord. It was a sacrifice, and since it was the first born, they had no promise of another animal. They had no knowledge if  the other sheep would give birth to healthy lambs, or even if their lambs would survive the birth on a cold night.

That is the essence of sacrifice: giving a circumstance or thing to God, even with no promise of return. We are commanded in Romans to sacrifice ourselves unto God as a living act of worship.

How can you practically sacrifice unto the Lord as an act of worship?

 

 

 

 

The Fear of Hypocrisy


It was a normal Monday afternoon as I logged my hours into the database of the pregnancy center where I work. Out of nowhere
came a sting of guilt as I remembered the quick temper that I had displayed to my brother as I rushed out the door. Pondering my actions, the enemy began to whisper lies to my soul, “Who are you to work with this Pregnancy Center? If they only knew what you are really like, they would never want to have your service. You are just a hypocritical Christian. You need to resign and step down from all the ministry you are part of.”

Shame shadowed my face as I finished up my tasks and headed to my car. “Maybe I should just step down from ministry until I get my life together?” I pondered, as the engine began.

I wish that I could tell you that I didn’t listen to those lies for long. I wish that I hadn’t lived believing them for so long. Yet, honestly, I stayed in that place of shame for many months, and still to this day struggle with the guilt of not being completely sanctified.

The greatest fear I have isn’t the fear of being murdered in my sleep, of the darkness, or even of heights. My most monsterest of fears is the fear of being a hypocrite. I fear preaching one thing and living another. I fear failing God and not living in a way that honors Him. I fear causing the same amount of pain that I have experienced
from others. I fear being labeled a hypocrite.

I know that I am not the only one who has struggled with this lie. The lie that the enemy so often speaks, attempting to disqualify us from the work that Christ is doing.
There is a clear difference between a hypocritical Christian and a true follower of Christ.

A hypocritical Christian claims to be without sin, yet knows that sin is within their lives. John warned the church of this very thing, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)
A true follower of Christ is a work in progress. He or she doesn’t claim to be perfect but simply on the upward climb toward sanctification.

I am not a finished project.

I am not sinless and it seems that the closer I draw to the light, the more dirt and grime shows within.

HE is still working on my soul.

I continue to strive toward perfection, Yet all the time allowing Him to sanctify me.