Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Skeleton in My Closet

I am a perfectionist. Yep, there's no denying it, I'm as type-A as they come. In fact, I am so much a perfectionist that it literally pains me to let my guard down enough to share these thoughts with you all. However, if I could write a letter to my 20-year old self, I would, and ministering to you girls is the closest chance I get.

There are times in life when God is subtle, and there are times in life when He smacks you right across the face. Tonight, in preparing for our "Chase" Bible study, He smacked me. Hard. As I read through the study guide, praying about what message He had for me to share with you all, I instead found myself staring into a message directed right at me.

How much are you trying to control your image or what others think of you? Answer these questions:

  • Do you freely confess you current struggles to close friends? Oh no, I'm the one who's there to listen and counsel others, the one who feeds and doesn't need to be fed.
  • When someone accuses you of something do you immediately get defensive? Guilty.
  • Are you quick to condemn when you hear about someone else screwing up? And do you feel like you are above making massive mistakes? Nope not above, but certainly don't want to let people see me sweat.
  • Do you get frantic when you feel misunderstood? Absolutely. 
  • Do people think you have it all together? Of course, how could I let them think otherwise?

I am still in a bit of a panic right now as I regurgitate these thoughts to you. In addition to being a perfectionist, I'm an extrovert, and in all honestly wear my heart on my sleeve. I'm open, happy to share and wouldn't describe myself as private. With one BIG exception - when it comes to my failures, or even my weaknesses.

True story - I had a melt down at a driving range when I was 16 years old. It is a wonder that I've ever picked up a golf club since. You may be wondering what on earth could have caused me to come unglued during a "fun" afternoon date to the public driving range. We're talking hysteric tears, heaving chest, burning cheeks, paralysis kind of melt down. I couldn't swing, wouldn't swing. And the culprit? The simple possibility that if I swung the club, I. might. miss. This was such a painful experience, and example of my desire for a perfect image, that I used it as the analogy for my college entrance essay more than a year later.

Flash forward to undergrad. I was so fixated on maintaining a perfect GPA (fear compounded by Drury's untimely institution of the + & - grading scale), that I vividly remember having to rush out of class (sometimes on a weekly basis), find a private bathroom and sob hysterically, because I could no longer breathe sitting in class I had buried myself under so much weight and pressure. Minutes later, I would return, feathers seemingly unruffled, never letting on to my melt down.

Let me be clear, I am not proud of this. Furthermore, I blame no one for this obsession with my identity as someone who has it all together. My parents were nothing but supportive and encouraging with the realistic expectations that any parent/educator would have. No, this is self-imposed, compounded by a grip of sin on my heart telling me that I am in control and control is a beautiful thing. "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Even as I write this, a supposed revealing message, I am tempted to highlight and erase the entire thing with one swift click for fear that I'm rambling and the PERFECT words haven't been found. But let me be open with you for a few more moments. I struggle with this stronghold on my heart; I'm working on it. In the infinite wisdom of my 20s (ha!) I am just beginning to learn to let go and let God. I am seeing the beauty in my own weakness, for it is only then that God's strength can shine through me. "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us."
(2 Corinthians 4:7)

Will you walk with me on this journey? Will you ask me and push me to be real with you? To be an honest, open example of a messed up sinner, wiping away my facade that I've got it all together? I don't have it all together. And you don't have to either. Thankfully, we serve a God who does have it all together, and offers His unconditional love to us in spite of our ugliest failures. 

He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve,
    nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
    so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
    he has separated us from our sins.
(Psalm 103:10)