Friday, June 15, 2012

Good Enough.

"Well, that was embarrassing," he laughed. 
I kind of laughed with him, cringing inside as I agreed. "Yeah..."

And for once - it was embarrassing. He happened to be someone in a position of authority that I had reallllly wanted to impress... but between my bumbling awkwardness and incredible penchant for bad luck (*ahem* even though I don't believe in luck or fate), I had managed to mess up the situation to the point that I considered never coming back. But I had nowhere else to go and so forced myself to return the next day thinking *shrug* I have no sense of shame.

But THAT for sure isn't true. The next few days were something akin to Torture, Light, as I caught snatches of people talking about what had happened when I walked past them. But I pushed through, trying to work my way up from Idiot Ground Floor.

Other people would ask me how my day went and I would try to reply with something positive, all the while thinking Every single person in that place considers me an absolute moron and can't wait until I leave. I'm just annoying them all and none of them think I can actually do this. 

Of course, all this was right on the heels of several weeks of banging my head against a wall because of frustration over my GPA, which took kind of hard hit this past semester - which I can blame on nothing but my lack of discipline. (Yes, Physics and Biochemistry are hard classes, but I should have done better.)

Then it suddenly hit me. 

My self-worth is based on my perception of other's opinions of me.

Not even their opinion. Simply what I THINK is their opinion... which may be colored by things such as my current GPA, how much sleep I got the night before, etc. etc. etc. 

It's not like I have not at least partially realized this before. I started the following blog post last winter:

Idiot, idiot, idiot.

You would not believe the number of conversations I walk away from thinking that.

And no, I'm not meaning the other person. 

Why did I say that? And they're going to think...

Then, one day last fall, it suddenly hit me. Is that what God thinks when He looks at me? 

Um... not according to His Word... 

(for the sake of time, I am copying these from here)

• I am a child of God.

But to all who have received him--those who believe in his name--he has given the right to become God's children … (John 1:12).

• I am a friend of Jesus.

I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father (John 15:15).

• As a child of God, I am a fellow heir with Christ.

And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ)--if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:17).

• My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells in me.

Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you (1 Corinthians 6:19)?

• I am chosen, holy, and blameless before God.

For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love (Ephesians 1:4).

• I am redeemed and forgiven by the grace of Christ.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7).

• I am a citizen of heaven.

But our citizenship is in heaven--and we also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ … (Philippians 3:20).

• I have been chosen of God, and I am holy and beloved.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience … (Colossians 3:12).

Yeah... Something slightly different from Official Idiot there... And if God wasn't hiding His face every time I opened my mouth, why was I? So I started trying to catch myself, and each time that little refrain started up again, I would look at whatever had just happened again and remind myself that it wasn't that big of deal - because it never was. 
Somewhere along the line I had just started 
coloring every interaction I had with others by some paint-by-number chart that showed me lacking in some way.
Why, I'm not sure... I suppose I could look at certain people in my life and guess at why I started doing it... but that would do nothing more than give me an excuse for it, and I don't want an excuse. I want to stop doing it. And I was stopping it - that bit anyway. 

But the deeper part, the part that I've been realizing more recently, the reason I was judging myself so harshly, didn't change. One tiny compliment can make my entire year - but a hint of criticism completely destroys me. I've always been a bit of a perfectionist, and missing perfection hurts - getting others' reactions to my imperfection more than hurts.  

And it wasn't just that I found it incredibly easy to beat myself up after the smallest faux pas, or got defensive or despondent at criticism. It also meant that when I wasn't perfect, I couldn't move past it. 

If I got gas for the car and messed up writing the check and had to ask the attendant for the date and what gas station I was at exactly... I wasn't going to hand her a tract afterwards, because I didn't want her to think Christians were morons. Etc.

That's what started getting my attention. I started thinking about what John the Baptist said:

He must increase, but I must decrease.
And I realized that I was trying to increase, so that He would increase. I was going at it backwards.

Was I really not wanting Him to look bad when I didn't give someone a tract? Or was I just trying to leave as quickly as possible because I was already embarrassed and didn't want another opportunity to mess up?   

For probably the first time in my life, I realized I was willing to have every ability I was proud of (even when I struggled with thinking none of them were that much) taken away from me, to become absolutely nothing if it would glorify Him. If my failure, or inability to reach perfection, was what was necessary to glorify Him, then so be it. 
I had to stop fighting to reach my own standards of perfection. 
Because my standards don't matter. Only He does.

Then I read this quote of Oswald Chambers, and somehow it seemed to just fit what I was thinking about.

"Our calling is not primarily to be holy men and women, but to be proclaimers of the Gospel of God. The one thing that is all important is that the Gospel of God should be realized as the abiding Reality. Reality is not human goodness, nor holiness... but Redemption... Personal holiness is an effect, not a cause, and if we place our faith in human goodness, in the effect of Redemption, we shall go under when the test comes."  

I was failing, time after time, because I was depending on my success in being completely on top of everything and doing exactly what I should when I should (and judging my success based on what others thought of me) BEFORE I could proclaim the Gospel. Instead of remembering that only one thing is needful, I was focusing on everything but.

"As long as our eyes are upon our own personal whiteness, we shall never get near the reality of Redemption... 'What I want is anything God can do for me to make me more desirable in my own eyes.' To talk in that way is a sign that reality of the Gospel of God has not begun to touch me; there is no reckless abandon to God. God cannot deliver me while my interest is merely in my own character."

I'm memorizing Colossians 1 right now, and this verse has got to be one of the most amazing in the Bible.

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

Read that again. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross made me unreproveable in the sight of God. My self-worth is determined by Him... and He said I was worth dying for. At that point, what else matters?


Redemption is the only Reality. Jesus Christ Himself has already determined who I am and what I am worth... over and done with. No more question about it. The only question is whether my focus is on Him. Because He is all that matters. If I succeed, if I don't, it doesn't matter, so long as He is glorified. 

The devil will do anything he can to prevent that, and if he can catch my ear with his whispered You're not good enough, and prevent me from sharing the Gospel by so doing, he's accomplished his goal. 

Matthew Henry's commentary on Proverbs includes this:

"Eager readiness to believe what others say has ever proved mischievous. The whole world was thus ruined at first. The man who is spiritually wise depends on the Savior alone for acceptance. He is watchful against the enemies of his salvation by taking heed to God's word."

Wow. Did you ever stop to think what the first temptation really was? What were the words that made Eve take the fruit?

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat...

By eating the fruit, she would become wise... implying that right now, she wasn't wise. Her eyes weren't opened. She wasn't good enough. 

That's what ruined the world. 

In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence.
If I fear God... if my focus is on Him alone... if Redemption is my only Reality...  I will have confidence. My mood won't be dependent on how much those around me like me or dislike me, or what they say about me. Satan will not have that weapon to use against me - I am good enough because God made me, saved me, and He is perfecting me according to His plan and definition, not mine. 

The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: 

 The God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; 
to whom be glory for ever and ever. 

5 thoughts shared:

Vicki said...

Oooooooooooooh ...... *long sigh of deep relief* That is just what I needed to hear tonight, Katherine Sophia. Thank you so much for posting these thoughts. You always encourage my heart in the Lord - thank you for being a good blogging friend and sister in Christ!! :-D


Emily Shae said...

Thank you for sharing this with me. I really needed this. I have been struggling with my self-worth being dictated by what I think other's might think of me. This was really encouraging.


emii. said...

As I read this post, I journeyed with the words, being taken back to moments in the past week when I've thought, believed, pondered these same things.

I have never ever thought about what you wrote about Eve, and... wow. Just wow.

I'm just going to go think about it some more. But, thankyou.

Katherine Sophia said...

I'm so glad, Vicki - this was one of those things I just did not really want to post... but it was also something I felt like God wanted me to share and not just keep to myself.

It is soo easy to go there, isn't it, Em? It's kind of scary... which is why I'm so glad that GOD is the one working in me - I take a lot of perfecting! :)

Me either, Emii, and that was my reaction exactly. Wow. I think it helps to realize just how serious a thing it is to judge our worth by anything other than Christ.

Thank you all! I really appreciate your taking the time to comment on this - you have all encouraged me as I try to learn to listen when God prompts me to share something that He is teaching me!

Vicki said...

P.S. I just tagged you over at my blog again ... :-D


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