Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘God’

(Take a breath. Get a drink. This is a long one. But it’s worth it. I promise think.)

When I think of the perfect business woman, a very specific picture comes to mind. Someone who lives in a city, in a perfect apartment overlooking the city in which she works. She has perfect hair, perfect nails, a perfect figure, a perfectly coordinated outfit. She can walk in high heels for hours, and commands attention immediately when she walks into a room. She walks into meetings and has all the right answers, she sells her clients on whatever she needs to, goes on business trips, and makes enough money that she never has to worry about bills or how much she spends when she goes out with her friends. She is intelligent, witty, and held in respect. And, most important of all, she is confident. She knows who she is, what she is doing, where she is going, and how she is getting there.  She exercises every day, has relaxing evenings, and is always at work in tip top shape with all the energy for the day coursing through her. In essence, she is every white collar business woman displayed on every TV show and movie.

Perfect Woman

I have always wanted to be that woman. I have watched all those TV shows and movies and thought, someday – that will be me.

I am 32 years old. I live in a perfect apartment overlooking the city in which I work. I get up early to go to work, and make more money than even I ever thought I could. I have briefed and run meetings for hundreds of people throughout my career. I go to more meetings than I know what to do with. I travel all over the country to meet with clients. I go out to happy hours. I wear suits and heels. In a fleeting moment, one might think – I have arrived. And you know what? I struggle to exercise because I hate it. I struggle to keep my weight down because I like eating. I am exhausted in the mornings as I trudge into work wishing I could have slept in and trying to smile instead of glower at people. I spend most evenings either preparing food for dinner or cleaning up, trying to catch up on correspondence and social media, trying to catch up on errands, or playing on my phone and watching TV while feeling guilty for not being useful. I always watch the price when I’m out because I still have a budget, and we are saving for a house, and I have financial goals, unlike apparently that woman in the movie. I never make time to do my nails, my hair is rarely perfect, I can handle high heels for only about half an hour at a time, and most of all? I have incredibly low confidence. I never know what to say to people, am always confident I DON’T have the right answer, and have totally lost my vision for where I want to go.

Remember that fleeting moment that I looked like that woman? Well, I’m not. I am nothing like her.

But I’m always striving to be her. And you know why? Because she is perfect. And I so dearly, desperately, want to be perfect. I strive so hard for that and always, always fail, and therefore constantly feel like a failure, and constantly lower my confidence because I cannot seem to make myself disciplined enough to climb up to where that perfect woman is.

I know – well, my brain knows – that that perfect woman? She doesn’t actually exist. That actress is in perfect shape because she is an actress. She has money for drinks because the studio pays for it (and it’s probably water anyway). Her hair and nails and outfit are all perfect because an entire team of people came together to make them perfect and probably worked on it for hours. Every  bit of that is fake and yet somehow, makes us still desire it.

I excuse my desperate drive for perfectionism as a good thing. Aren’t we told to strive to be perfect? Matthew 5:48: Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

It was good to strive for perfectionism in all forms of my life. But I knew I was failing. A deep and utter failure. From not graduating with honors at college to not controlling my weight to not finishing writing that book, to not being confident at meetings or stumbling during my briefings. And I’m so rooted in the fact that I’m failing even as I strive desperately, that I am in constant turmoil if I ever pause to think about it. My husband has tried to talk to me about it. Tried to tell me it’s okay not to always succeed. That I have to fail to learn (a concept I’ve always panicked at). That it’s okay to just be who I am. And I know he’s making good points – but that doesn’t mean I can or will implement them. And then a friend said it in a way that turned my thinking completely upside down.

I think you’ve let perfectionism become an idol.

My entire world reeled at that statement. It’s taken me weeks to process it enough to even write this. Because at that instant, the absolute millisecond I read those words, I knew it was so. But Oh, I didn’t want it to be. No! I wanted, I NEEDED my perfectionism. It is WHO I AM. I am an ISTJ – I do things right. I am an Enneagram 1 – the perfectionist. I am a Green over Blue E-Color – I don’t just do things right – I do them right the first time. 

To take away my drive to perfectionism would be like – not being me anymore. And everyone kept telling me to be me. So how would that work?

Perfectionist identity

But. Striving to be perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect . . . is a far cry from striving to be perfect so I can meet my idea of the person I need to be in order for people to admire me and think of me as a success. Because I know that, deep down, my current pursuit of perfection stems from the need to be admired. To be praised. To be looked up to as the example. And above all, oh shudder, above all, so I am not laughed at or derided or looked down upon, or any of the other horrible things that all those who are afraid of  what people think fear the most.

I pursue perfectionism like it is all there is in the world. Most of my thoughts revolve around what I could be doing better. I even criticize my handwriting WHILE I’m writing anything. It’s a constant voice while I’m writing those notes or that story, or a phone number: Why is your handwriting so sloppy? Why haven’t you finished that calligraphy course? People can see you writing, you know. You know what they are thinking right now. They are thinking about how awful your handwriting is. Oh gosh, what if someone sees that word you just wrote? Do even YOU know what you just wrote? What a failure.

Yesterday, I was part of a panel of presenters to a group of over 400 people on a webinar. I was in a room with two senior level people also giving a briefing. We all did our briefings, the webinar ended, and guess what happened? The other two people smiled at me, said goodbye, and went back to work. I sat there, almost stunned. You know why? Because they didn’t look at me and say, “Great job!”. My mind immediately went from Hey, I didn’t mess up!  To Oh, man. The analysis I presented must have been awful. It should have been way deeper. It was definitely too short. Did you see the terminology the other panelists used? Why didn’t you use fancier words? You should have run this by someone – someone other than your manager and the other person who used to do this because they obviously didn’t know what they were talking about. Oh, gosh, I just did a HORRIBLE JOB. I was trembling, I messed up a couple words, no one asked me questions – that wasn’t what they wanted at all! 

I could keep going, but I think you get the idea. It wasn’t until I mustered up the courage to actually ask one of the other senior people if I had done all right and they were like, “Oh, yeah – you were fine! You did a good job.” that I finally stopped the running dialogue (although the term fine came with its own dialogue, of course).

The-Perfectionists-Guide-to-Results

And I knew I had a problem. Technically I’ve sort of known this all along. And technically, I sort of knew it a lot more when I began to think of perfectionism as an idol. But this forced me to face it head on. I need to be perfect so I can be admired. I need to be perfect to elevate myself. And that is where the issue comes in. Because you and I, ladies and gents? You and I are supposed to be elevating God. We are supposed to be striving to do things better to send praises His way, not our way. We are supposed to be praising him, not ourselves.

I am trapped under a burden that will never release me until I allow God to take it from me. Perfectionism is going to choke the life out of me – every bit of joy I have – everything I do and think and strive for – it is waiting to grab that cup of joy I took a sip of and drink the rest. Always thirsty but never full, no matter how hard I try. But that isn’t my job. That’s God’s job. All I have to do is hand this joy-sucker over to him – because He is the only one who can actually fill that empty chasm. Nothing I do will ever fill it up . Only He is large enough to do that. All I am large enough to do is my best with who He has made me – and then let Him fill up everything that I thought perfectionism would take care of.

800px-Water_drop_001

Oh, I’m not saying everything is fixed. I’m not even saying that I’m not sitting here alternately condemning what I wrote and then imagining someone publishing it worldwide and turning me into a star and then condemning it again. No, this is an ongoing struggle and one I am only just beginning to face. I have a feeling it is going to be a difficult time getting these clutches off of me. But I suppose recognizing it enough to write about it is the first step. And hopefully I won’t just bury it away again, thinking this was good enough.

Because – how would it feel, I wonder – to step outside, stretch out my arms, breathe the incredible air, look at the view – and NOT be wondering way deep down inside if people were watching me and what they were thinking and whether I should be better dressed and why I wasn’t skinnier?

It’s my goal to find out what that’s like.

dancing (2)

Photo Credit: Jennifer Regnier on Unsplash

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.” Acts 13:22

I am reading in both 1 Samuel and Acts these days, specifically about David, whom God called a man after His own heart. I don’t know about you, but every single time I read one of those verses where God says David is a man after His own heart, I feel my own heart reaching out in yearning. It is instantly the cry of my own soul, Please, God, make me a woman after your own heart. Say that about me too.

What a wonderful thing that would be, wouldn’t it? To know God looks at you and says, “Now there is a woman after my own heart” or “There is a man after my own heart.” And you know the most miraculous thing about it? David wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t the first Jesus or anything – he made so many mistakes. Yet, his heart longed for God, followed God, was pure enough that God could still look at him, and say, Yes. He is a man after My own heart.

I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to want to be perfect. To want and aim to follow the path of righteousness. To learn and follow His commandments. To strive to be a woman after His own heart. Yes, God wants us to strive for perfection but He doesn’t demand it before loving us. He doesn’t look at us and say, no, you cannot possibly be someone after my own heart until you achieve it. He sees our attempts, our prayers, and yearnings, our striving. And it is good.

Praise God for His goodness, his perfection. His patience. And make me a woman after Your own heart.

“And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which he Lord commanded thee.” 1 Samuel 13:13-14

Read Full Post »

I’ve been working hard on my book and am up to 46,000 words. It is amazing to me how much easier it is to write when you don’t care about being cheesy and you don’t have to do research for historical bits. The miracle of a sappy romance set in modern America. But really, I am having fun with it and am always a little sad to stop writing to do something useful, like going to bed.

So, I learned from my journal today that a year ago today we set out for a cruise. Sigh. How I would rather be doing that than sneaking a post in between work in a cold office, and knowing I will be walking out to an even colder outside in a few hours. But, I have to remind myself that, unlike a majority of people, I do pretty much like my job and my coworkers and that this job funds the ability to go on a cruise, so I can only complain so much. Next year. We’ll go on a cruise next year and it will be ten times more rewarding because we will be debt free. Did I mention that? We are doing a staycation this year (end of April) to save money because, if we work and save hard, and God deems it the right time, we will be able to pay off the rest of my student loans by the end of the year – maybe even earlier! Totally worth suffering through the cold instead of going to the Bahamas.

I’ve finally been going to a chiropractor on a regular basis and, for once, he has actually helped me. I have not had great experiences in the past. But, my fingers have stopped going numb and the debilitating pain in my elbow has gone to a reasonable amount that I can live with. Which makes me happy. Changing my sleeping position has been more difficult – since apparently the nerve damage is due to my sleeping with my arm crooked and my head on top of it. But I changed pillows and have been slowly changing my habits and am finally beginning to sleep well again despite not being in my accustomed position.

And that is basically life right now. God is good.

God is good

 

Read Full Post »

I am in a one of those moods tonight. Introspective, depressed, or whatever other adjectives you care to describe those nights when you just want to curl up and hide from the world. But, since I still have to be a little productive tonight, I thought perhaps if I wrote it out to you, all you strangers out there, I would get it out of my system.

I can’t be the only one who goes through this – those times when you just start reflecting on how low a priority you seem in literally everyone’s lives? Except my husband – he always makes me feel cared for. Sometimes, I just feel like, if I never contacted anyone again, or asked someone to hang out or talk or whatever else – nothing would happen. Just that. They would never get around to contacting me. I’d never visit with anyone, go out with anyone, nothing. Because, sometimes, I feel like I basically have to beg to get someone to hang out with me or chat with me. Not that I need it that often, being an introvert, but sometimes it would be nice to have someone ask me for a change.

Or, there are those times, when you feel like you rearrange everything to accommodate someone else – and still they just can’t make something work? Or you contact someone and they never get back to you – or perhaps wait a week or two to respond. How low must you be on their priority list that they don’t get around to you until they feel like it?

I know these are dangerous depths to go into, and I know that just because other people may not purposefully make time for me does not give me an excuse not to be there for them. But every now and then, usually when like 3 or 4 people do it in a row – I just find myself wallowing in self-pity and have to talk myself out of it.

There. I feel better already. And my husband loves me and always makes me a priority. And I am so precious in God’s eyes that He not only created me, He has a special plan for me. And everyone has busy streaks in their lives – not responding can just be a symptom of how busy they are and how much they need support in their lives rather than being all about me.

If I turn my eyes outward instead of inward, how much more am I able to see! How many others who may feel so much more alone than me – or may truly be alone – without loving husbands, friends, and family who just get a little busy sometimes. How truly selfish being introspective can sometimes be. I am here to give glory to God and be there for others, not wait for others to be there for me.

Thank you for letting me talk through this with you and I hope any of you who may feel discouraged tonight might feel refreshed and encouraged knowing that:

1. Everyone goes through down times. You are not alone. And

2. You are precious in God’s sight no matter what is going on in your life right now.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31

Read Full Post »

I feel like I write these type of posts a lot, so if you still read them, either I am not alone in the world of figuring oneself out or you are really bored.

All of you who have been around awhile or read previous posts know that I am the type to constantly push myself. I always have a goal I am reaching for and always trying to arrange my life around those goals, working towards it. I think I’ve talked a few times before about discouragement and trying to figure out precisely what I want and all that. Well, one thing I don’t think I’ve really mentioned is my constant struggle for joy. Not to say I have been unhappy – I am quite happy- but you know that settled feeling in your soul that just says you are at peace, even if you are striving toward something? I haven’t had that except once in a great while in a very long time, and I’ve been trying to figure out why.

I have, relatively speaking, a perfect life. It hasn’t always been this way, as anyone who knows my past can attest to – and some people see my life now and tell me that I deserve it after all I’ve been through – I know better than that. I deserve nothing and am therefore grateful that for some reason God has seen fit to give me such a good life right now. I am also under no misconceptions that it will last forever. Why, then, do I have such difficulty settling and enjoying this current life instead of constantly looking and striving forward as though I’m waiting for something more before I can really enjoy the life I’ve been given?

I worked between 10 and 14 hours every day Sunday – Tuesday this week on an exercise down in Florida. Consequently, I was able to take most of Wednesday to relax on the beach before working another 12 hour day on Thursday. I found myself looking out over the ocean in a contemplative mood on the very subject I mentioned above. So, I decided to go for a walk and talk it out with God. This time, however, I decided not to just concentrate on the writing aspect or the job aspect or whatever other aspect – I decided it was time to go through my life in detail with God to ferret out the reason for my inability to be joyful instead of impatient in my current status of life.

As tempting as it is, I won’t bore you with all the ins and outs of the conversation – it was very minutia oriented, which, after all, turned out to be what I needed. God and I discussed what I thought I wanted out of life vs. what God wants out of my life, and then we talked through my writing life and whether I had the right point of view on it, my current job, why I wanted to go into Counterintelligence, and if I actually wanted to go into it, or if I just wanted the glory of saying I was a CI analyst, and where I was right now in life vs. where I thought I wanted to be.

Below are what I feel the conclusions of the conversation were:

  1. God may have a different plan for my life than I think He does and my being stuck on a certain career path could inhibit what He wants to do in my life. Though it is good to have goals in life, the issue comes in when you insist on those goals remaining the same.
  2. My thinking I cannot have a writing career unless I concentrate on it full-time is a product of fear and procrastination and assumes God cannot give me the capacity for more than one task at a time.
  3. It is possible – not for sure, but possible – that God gave me the desire to go into CI precisely to get me where I am today. I love my job, my company, my coworkers, and my job location – why am I so eager to move on? What happens if I concentrate on doing the best I can with where God currently has me instead of not giving it my all because I think it won’t get me where I think I want to go? God can use me in this current capacity and if I assume this isn’t where I need to be, I may miss what else He has planned for me.

Ultimately, and it can be difficult to put into words, but ultimately: Instead of striving forward constantly, I am making a goal to be happy where I am. I still have goals, but realize that God may have different goals for me. I am going to enjoy my current life and not feel guilty every time I am spending time with my husband instead of writing or feeling guilty for not working on writing an article because I don’t feel like it or not working on something CI related because I don’t want to. I am going to strive to be the best in my current capacity (which is, after all, a Senior Analyst, which is a huge part of what I wanted out of my career) and assume that, as He always does, God will clearly open a door when it is time for me to move on to something else He has planned for me. I am going to continue writing on a regular basis, but not feel guilty when I don’t have time for it because I am taking joy in the life God has currently granted me. I am going to assume that God will allow me to be published in His perfect timing, not mine.

Implementing the pattern of thought that it is not a sin for me to not constantly be doing something educational or working toward one of my goals has already done an incredible part in putting my heart at peace. Despite being sick, I enjoyed a very relaxing weekend at home with my husband, and read two books, without any guilty thoughts on needing to write or needing to practice Russian. I healed significantly faster than usual from my cold and did not wake up today with the thought that I didn’t want to go to work.

I want to be clear that I still think it is good and healthy to have goals you strive toward. The secret I am learning, with God’s help, is being at peace and joyful where you are while you work toward them, and being flexible enough to realize that God may direct those goals elsewhere and, for God, there is no time limit. He’ll bring you there when He knows you are ready.

We so often concentrate on the trials aspect of Philippians 4 and being content. For some of us, it is in times of plenty that we get lost.

Philippians 4:6-7, 12-13

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. . .  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Read Full Post »

WHAT? Two posts in a row?? I know – I know, you think the world is coming to an end.  But have no fear! It is only that I am at work, but have little to do (right now at least) and wanted to talk about something that I experienced yesterday but wasn’t ready to talk about when I posted last night.

So, you recall, no doubt, that I wore a hat to church yesterday. Which was awesome and exciting and a huge step for me. But something unexpected came out of it too. Something you are the first to hear, and it is humbling for me to talk about it. But I feel the need to share it, if only to cement what I learned within myself.

I was standing in church during worship, singing along to the words – but not paying attention. I was far too focused on whether I looked okay, and if people were staring at me, and what it would be like if everyone wore hats to church like they used to. Suddenly some words I had said to Daniel before reaching church floated back into my head. It was something along the lines of: “I’m pretty sure God doesn’t care if I wear a hat, so I don’t know why I care so much what other people think.” And I suddenly felt convicted as something (or Someone) whispered, “He may not care if you wear a hat, but He cares if you pay closer attention to that hat and your looks than Him.” I realized with a start that I was so concentrated on my own looks, I couldn’t even do what I had come to church to do – which is worship and learn about God. I’m not going to say it was easy, but I very purposefully turned away my attention from myself and concentrated on the worshipful words I was singing. Which not only took away my self-consciousness but opened up another vein of thought.

How many times had I stood in that same church, singing and worshiping and focusing on something other than God? For instance, in the same line of fear (people’s opinions), I often focus on my voice and whether I am singing too loudly or not loudly enough, if I am in tune, if I got the wrong words or had the wrong timing and whether other people liked or disliked the tone of my voice. I blushed to myself as I realized how incredibly self-focused I was during this time at church every Sunday. So I took my purposefulness to another level, and instead of focusing on my voice and how it sounded, I listened to the sound of the church singing to their God. What an incredible difference it made! For the first time, I could hear all of our voices joined in one harmonic tone, lifting up praise. And I understood why God loves worship. The people in that church may or may not have “good” voices and may or may not sing in general – but for those moments – it was the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard and the most in harmony song I’d ever witnessed. And I knew that God was in His heaven, looking down and reveling in the sound of that many people joined together to acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior. What I had been missing for so long, because I was so self-focused!

I realized – I mean – I had told myself this before, certainly – but never really, really realized how incredibly selfish and self-focusing fear of people makes you. Yes, you are called a “people pleaser” – you want others to be happy so you worry about what you are doing – but why do you want others to be happy? So you can feel happy, and respected, and worthy and even important. It all circled back to me, me, and more of me. That is not to say we shouldn’t be concerned about others certainly – but perhaps I should be more focused on how to help THEM instead of how it is going to make me feel if I don’t do it right. It is a very slight shift in mindset that I think makes an incredible difference in life view.

That is not to say that everything is going to change overnight – it has been a mode of thought ingrained in me for so long I don’t think that is possible. But at least I know now what to concentrate on – how to change my mindset – and about what may be the biggest sin issue I’ve ever discovered about myself  – and the last one I expected – selfishness. I wonder what would happen if, every time I started to feel self-conscious or worried about what people thought, I stopped myself and asked myself why I felt that way and whether I was actually worried about them, or about myself.

Image result for c.s. lewis humility quote

Read Full Post »

First things first – head over to my other blog (http://storyidyls.blogspot.com/) and check out my most recent post on fear of failure! Because you all know that is my favorite subject, so I couldn’t resist posting about it on there too and am currently working hard not to regret it.

Second things second: I love you , my readers. Mostly because I don’t know any of you and you still take the time to read my stuff and I don’t have to feel self-conscious because I know if you like it, it is because you actually like it because you aren’t going to have to face me at any point and pretend to anyway. Which means I can be myself around you.

Third things third. I read a lovely little piece in A Lamp for My Feet by Elisabeth Elliot that I am pretty sure God was directly telling me. as many of you know – I have a constant need and impulse to insert my witness in conversations in any way possible – partially because (speaking of fear) I am afraid not doing so constitutes as denying Christ. I’ve been trying to figure out lately the correct balance between being a good witness and allowing people to just talk without my preaching at them. I think this insight has really helped me be at more peace:

The Necessity to Cover

There are things which it is our duty to cover in silence. We are told nowadays that everything ought to be expressed if we are truly “honest” and “open.” Proverbs 11:13 says, “He who goes abroad as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing hidden.” Jesus sometimes refused to reveal the truth about Himself, even when it would have seemed to us an opportunity to witness. He did not always answer questions. He did not always say who He was. He told some of those He healed to tell no one about it. “For every activity under heaven its time . . . a time for silence and a time for speech” (Eccl 3:1, 7), “A man of understanding remains silent” (Prv 11:12). Lord, deliver me from the urge to open my mouth when I should shut it. Give me the wisdom to keep silence when silence is wise. Remind me that not everything needs to be said, and that there are very few things that need to be said by me.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »