Pretending to Have It All Together Is Killing Your Spiritual Life
It's OK to be imperfect.
We desire forgiveness, we desire to be known, to be loved for who we are. To have the freedom to eat ice cream in our swimsuits with our wide thighs, mommy bellies and huge smiles without being judged. We long to have the acceptance of inviting someone over for dinner and serving leftovers. We want people who we can call on the phone sobbing hysterically and they’ll respond, “I’m on my way over.”
But we hide. We strive for perfection and efficiency. We cry into our pillows silently. We clean the house before guests arrive not in an effort to show hospitality but to reveal how efficiently we can care for our children, tidy our home and cook a great meal all at once. We put on masks that protect us from revealing our weakness. We change who we are around different people because we long to be worthy, approved of, loved and accepted.
When we don’t reveal our shortcomings, hide our weakness and cover up our failures, we keep ourselves from feeling true love. We lie to the outside world because being honest is vulnerable and risks getting hurt. But this armor we wear makes those lies more believable not only to the onlookers but to us.
We start to believe we aren’t worthy and we aren’t enough. So we put on another layer of armor to protect our hearts. And after a while, some of us get very good at the cover up. Then, a new lie materializes as the world tells us we are amazing and we don’t have to prove ourselves. But that isn’t the complete truth either.
Whichever lie we believe, that “you aren’t enough” or that “you are the greatest thing this world needs,” we miss out on the grace God freely, abundantly gives to accept our failings. We don’t have to hide them, we don’t have to creatively explain them. Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us.”
We turn our backs to that truth and believe the lie that if He knew us He wouldn’t give the gift. But that is just it. He does know us and He already gave it!
He chose to give us the gift not because of our perfection but because of His, because of Jesus’ perfect work on the cross declaring “it is finished.”
Redemption is the act of clearing a debt. See? He already knows your sin exists. He knows what will happen tomorrow and He has already cancelled that debt, too. Before we were selfish, judgmental, controlling, liars, indulgent, He died for us!
We put a lot of effort into what people see, into “being good,” loving people well, showing patience, loving sacrificially. We should, but we should do those things in complete freedom to fail. We should do those things because Christ did it for us and His grace and love is so life-giving it pours out of us!
King David writes in Psalm 23 “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” David, who was an adulterer and murderer, who ignored God’s laws for years and chose His own way, saw at the end of his life the majesty and beauty of God’s power and forgiveness. God richly blessed David, His favor rested on Him despite his lies, despite his taking control, despite his lust.
David’s cup overflowed not because he won wars, had rooms full of gold, people under him to rule or beautiful places to live. His cup overflowed because in the midst of his enemies and his own sin, God rescued him. This is redemption, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly … God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6,8).
This is perhaps the hardest gospel truth to believe and yet it is the most important—the most critical to our faith. We hear it and long for it to be true but Satan whispers that it is true for everyone but us. We think we are below it, lacking too much to ever reach His love.
Sometimes what we believe in church or Bible study or at our friend’s kitchen table, we forget alone in our bedroom. The chaos of our home, the whining of our children, the urgency of work all vie for our attention. Satan uses these things to berate us with the lies that we can’t measure up, we can’t control and we can’t perform. He distracts us from the beauty of the Gospel, from the reality of redemption by speaking truth.
He says just enough to hook us and then stops before hope of being rescued is revealed. Just as he did in the garden of Eden, he whispers, “Did God really say …” (Genesis 3:1) He questions us, confuses us and argues against us until we are confused. But the Gospel offers hope and in the daily routines and relationships of our lives. It redeems our thoughts and our fears. It brings life where we should have death. Redemption is victory over a hopeless situation.
Without Jesus, the hope is that we can muster the patience, courage or strength to not give up, that we can work hard enough and long enough to prove we are lovable, special, worthy.
If we were worthy, God’s grace wouldn’t be lavish. If we earned it, forgiveness wouldn’t come from His riches, redemption wouldn’t come from sacrifice. Have you ever had anyone lavish something on you? Maybe there is a specific birthday you remember or your engagement or a friend who cheered you up from something with all your favorite things.
My best friend once went to dinner with her husband and couldn’t decide which entrée she wanted so he ordered both! I have been to dinner with this same couple and they ordered every dessert on the menu. It was extravagant and celebratory! This is how God loves us—lavishly, extravagantly, abundantly. He doesn’t hold back. He doesn’t give you forgiveness in doses as you need it.
He doesn’t require you come running to Him begging for it. He “is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). You don’t have to do good on your own strength. You do not have to perfectly and intentionally love your children at every waking moment, you do not have to serve your husband or wife with kindness every time they get off work, you do not have to control your anger or resentment over that lost promotion or grieve without hope over your lost child or failed marriage.
The ability to do any of that doesn’t come from your nature it comes from His!
He desires our childlike faith to come running up to His wide open arms knowing just as my children know that I will always forgive them. He will forgive your silent judgment, your secret cravings, your performance, your mask of perfection, your struggle for control when you confess your failures.
Not when you change your ways, not when you prove you are sorry, but when you run to Him alone. For grace is free, unearned blessing and “… if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:2,5).
So run to the Father who created you. He didn’t rescue you because you were so creative, beautiful, efficient and patient that He couldn’t stand to be without you. He came and got you back from Satan because His love is abundant. So ask for His forgiveness, knowing that when you do you are worshipping God for His lavish love that you didn’t earn but have already been given!