Thursday, November 29, 2012

Birthday Surprise. It's Melissa!

Hello there Friend! With great joy I re-introduce to you Melissa. God has given me the wonderful privilege of serving alongside Meli at youth group. She is fun, full of life and absolutely lovely. Her wisdom though, sets her apart as a pillar of faith for all who know her. May you be blessed mightily through her words. 
[photo credit]
Atelophobia and Failed Expectations 

We all have this idea of how our lives should pan out if everything goes according to the plan. Whether it’s marrying the man of our dreams, or getting that dream job, or traveling the world. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes it is a tree of life”. So often we find that instead of the happily ever after we always dreamt of, life hands us a not-so-perfect husband, a mundane job, and maybe a trip to Disney (Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney, but it’s no Italy). So often we are disillusioned when reality doesn’t line up with our expectations. So what’s with our expectations anyway?

A few days ago, my mother called me over and said to me, “Hey, Meli, I learned a new word today! Atelophobia, it means the fear of imperfection. There, I’ve diagnosed you!” All my life I’ve struggled with this mental plague many like to call “perfectionism”. Okay, before you start rolling your eyes and thinking, “Oh great! One of those women”, bear with me. I have no intention of whining about how hard being perfect is. Trust me, I wouldn’t know! If you’ve begun to mentally check out because you feel like you can’t really relate, stay with me because I’m going to focus on a particular aspect of my struggle that I think every woman can identify with.

I’ve been analyzing my mental processes lately in an attempt to understand why I drive myself crazy trying to get everything just the way I think it ought to be. And here’s what I’ve concluded, my condition is quite simple really, it boils down to the fear of not living up to the expectations – the expectations of others, those I place on myself, and those the Bible makes clear for a woman of God. Not all expectations are bad because by all means, we are to do everything as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). But to be honest with you, there are times I read Proverbs 31 and think to myself, “That sounds exhausting! I’m just trying to make it through college.” I’m sure the circumstances are different for everyone, but I hope you understand where I’m coming from. Because of all that’s expected of us, we are forced to juggle our responsibilities while trying to be everything to everyone. Ironically, as a result of being spread so thin, sometimes I feel more like I’m hardly being anything to anyone. When the desire to please others or ourselves takes precedence over our desire to please God, we have lost sight of our purpose and we will eventually burn out.

Jeremiah 2:13 says, “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.” These cisterns are things we place our trust in to satisfy our needs; things we put our hope in to meet our expectations.
Tragically, what usually ends up happening when those needs are not met, we begin to resent those who we feel let us down. We sort of play the blame game and in our minds we’re telling ourselves things like, “if this thing had never happened” or “if he were just more ______” or “if I had just been better” or “if God had only done something about it” then maybe I would be happy and I could be a better wife/servant/friend/mother.

Within the last few years, God has been revealing bitterness and resentment that I’ve allowed to creep in to my heart. I have resented myself for failures and shortcomings. I’ve also known what it is to resent others for not being what I wanted them to be, and in a way I resented God for not making everything right. Remember that part of the proverb that talks about the heart being made sick? Well, yeah, it got ugly. At certain times in my life, I had allowed it to affect me so much that I became very critical and cynical. Before I knew it, I could hardly recognize myself. I felt like a Pharisee – a white washed tomb. In my attempt to get everything just right, I had become self-righteous and cold-hearted.

God allowed me to have that experience so I would know how awful it is to be so far from him and so that I could understand where leaning on anything other than him will lead. I still struggle with perfectionism and self-resentment but God always reminds me of 2 Corinthians 12:9 “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 

My prayer for you is that you trust God regardless of your circumstances and that you would always remember His faithfulness. I copied one of my favorite prayers (Not that I believe in reciting prayers, but I love how this was worded):

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
-Reinhold Niebuhr

You can read Melissa's Birthday Surprise post from last year HERE. You won't be disappointed! 

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