Last week I hit a wall emotionally, mentally and physically. My husband was out of town for 4 days on business, and even though this is nothing new for our family, it was a long 4 days. I took the kids to a new homeschool group outing, which was a good experience, but very draining. And we were trying really hard to finish up the school week on schedule so that we could start our holiday-themed fun school books and projects this week. I had not had any good quality adult conversation in a while, and the time zone difference between my husband’s location in California and ours in Tennessee made daily calls with him challenging. Nothing traumatic happened all week, and I even managed not to completely lose my cool with the kids during that time. But by the weekend, I was completely worn out. I felt depleted and depressed.
My husband knew I was struggling. He and I had a long conversation, and I cried a lot. It took me a long time to talk through all the things I was upset about, all the hard things that were dragging me down, but at the end, it all boiled down to this: I had been setting my expectations for myself too high again, and I was exhausted from trying and failing to measure up. You see, as a perfectionist, I have unreasonably high standards for myself and my performance. And when I do not meet my own standards, I often beat myself up for being such a big, fat failure. I walk around in defeat because I know I can never be good enough. But the ridiculous part is that no-one else has these outrageous expectations for me. My kids don’t. My husband doesn’t. My friends don’t. And most importantly, God doesn’t.
That is the hardest one to wrap my mind around. God does not expect perfection from me. He does not demand that I perform to a certain set of unattainable standards. He knows I am human. He expects me to make mistakes, to fail the test, to sin. And yet He still loves me. How can it be that this Holy God who is himself infinitely good and perfect still love me when I fall so far short of perfection time and time again? Because of GRACE. Because of Christ’s work on the cross. Because He has taken my sin as far as the east is from the west and left it there to be seen no more. When God the Father looks at me, He does not see my sin and my failure. All He sees is Christ in me, a new creation, beautiful and blameless.
This is so hard for me to get through my head and sink into my heart. But it is the Gospel. It is the Truth. And it is what I need to hear and read and speak and believe day in and day out. I need to eat, drink, sleep and breathe the grace of God. Because when I don’t, I live in a place of defeat, irritability and depression. I am open to the attacks of the enemy. And I am not a very pleasant person to be around. When I am living in the light of grace, on the other hand, I can have peace and joy, knowing that my value as a person does not depend on my performance. I can go through each day without guilt about unfinished tasks, admitting my faults without beating myself up. I can repent and ask God for the strength and help to do better tomorrow, knowing that He does not love me any less when I fall. He just picks me back up and dusts me off, hugs me and sets me back on the path, holding my hand as I go. I have a long road to travel to learn to give myself grace in my imperfection. Thank the Lord that He will be with me all the way!