So, my social media fast has been over for quite a while now, and I have nothing really to say about that topic. (It was great, and I’m still learning to balance my time in the here & now and in the social networking world, but God is good so all is well).What I DO want to talk about is what the LORD has done in my heart and life this summer. I can’t help but use any outlet I can to share about it, so for those interested, here goes.
I’ve lived most of my Christian life as a self-diagnosed perfectionist. It’s always been easy for me to understand that Christ died to forgive all of the sins I committed BEFORE I came to know Him. But to accept that I am forgiven daily, that there is no standard of works or performance for me to maintain my standing as God’s beloved daughter – that was unbelievable. Even now, I read that Truth – that there is no standard of works or performance for me to maintain my standing as God’s beloved daughter – and have to pause to ask myself, “Are you sure?”
The symptoms of my perfectionism – the ones I saw and prayed others would see most plainly – included a great work ethic, punctuality, pretty good time management, determination, self-discipline, and complete commitment to any team or task I was assigned to. All great things, no?
But with careful observation and a few pointed questions, one would also find insecurity, social anxiety, self-doubt, and a pretty steady battle with pride. Don’t get me wrong, I was generally pretty happy, and the joy of Christ has never left me. But brokenness was very near the surface, and I did everything I could to mask it. Perfect people don’t struggle with these things, so I shouldn’t either. That was my logic.
This summer, God, in His perfect love and grace, laid me bare before Him to undo all of the lies that had secured this way of living. For all of June and July, I lived in a sweet community of college students and staff members of the Navigators, all determined to dedicate this summer to growing closer to Christ. I prayed for a job that would build up my resume and challenge me, and God gave me a job where I spent literally 40 hours a week in a room by myself filing papers. For an extreme extrovert like me, I considered these 40 hours to be torture from the Devil himself. BUT, by God’s grace, I received a challenge from a sweet friend a few days into the program: “Train your mind.” So, I used these 8 hours every Monday-Friday to meditate on scripture and just talk to Jesus. I had never in my life spent so much time alone, without any other human being to talk to.
The first couple days, I caught my mind wandering often, and I suffered from a severe case of FOMO: Fear. Of. Missing. Out. I just wanted to be with all of my new friends. But this alone time was exactly what God needed to strip down my walls and speak to me, Jordan Katherine Mette, directly. With practice, it became easier for me to focus on verses for longer periods of time, and I began to dialogue with Jesus about verses like Isaiah 41:9-10:
I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
I’d ask questions like, “What does it mean for you to have taken me, to have called me?” “Why did you choose ME?” “Is your choice really that permanent, that you have not and will not ever reject me?” “Are you really with me now, Jesus?” “Is this verse really about ME?”
And you know what? Jesus answered! He confirmed that this verse was, indeed, about me specifically, that He did choose me, and that He really has not and will not reject me, no matter how far below the standard of perfectionism I fall. I cannot explain what it was like to hear His response, because there was no audible voice from heaven, and there was no distinct moment when I thought, “Ah hah! I got it!” But as time went on, my Spirit underwent a distinct tranformation, and I have never felt so alive. I continued to memorize and meditate on a greater collection of scriptures, like Psalm 51:10-12, Psalm 51:17, Lamentations 3:22-24, Ephesians 3:17-19, Numbers 23:19 (all worth looking up, by the way), and others. I read the Psalms during my morning quiet times before work, and suddenly the world “love” was everywhere – it was like I was reading the Bible for the very first time all over again!
I learned that God loved me personally, that the forgiveness we proclaim as Christians – complete and total forgiveness for every sin committed past, present, AND future – wasn’t just for everyone else, but for me too.
I think one of the bigger lessons I had to learn, and one that I am still learning, is that of the gravity of my sin. Like I said, many of the “symptoms” of perfectionism are good things: hard work, self-discipline, punctuality. To give oneself fully to a task is a GOOD thing. But God doesn’t care about outward appearances. He looks at our hearts, and my devotion to my performance was just a more attractive way of seeking independence from God. If I’m perfect, I don’t need grace, and I don’t owe God anything. And to think that was my goal! To be perfect, so that I wouldn’t need grace, and I wouldn’t owe God anything. THAT was my motive for being the best I could be – not to bring Him glory, but to glorify myself!
And perfectionism was not my only sin – I sin nearly every moment of every day, and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration, for in the Bible it says everything not done in faith is sin. To think that I am “less” of a sinner than anyone else is a lie straight from the devil, and, I’ve found, one of the greatest hindrances to my love and praise of Jesus Christ. I am a wretched, broken sinner, equal to every prostitute, alcoholic, drug dealer and addict.
Amazing love, how can it be, that Jesus Christ would die for me.
I could talk for hours about how these small meditations of my heart have changed my perspective on life. And they’re still only lessons – not convictions. I learn and unlearn them daily, and it’s a constant battle to take up my cross and follow Jesus, instead of reverting to my old perfectionistic ways. But by God’s grace – not the Christian cliché kind of grace, but the REAL stuff – I am growing ever-closer to my Creator, and my heart is stretching so much wider and fuller than it’s ever been. I am not longer a perfectionist, for perfectionism is not a part of my identity or a label I’m glued to. Rather, I am labeled as Christ’s beloved, and I determined to run this race for Him and to Him, with everything I’ve got. I’m determined to seek His face until these truths really do become convictions, and I am so excited about it.
If you’re still reading, you’re a trooper. 🙂 I pray these words would be an encouragement to whoever would read them, and that they would glorify the Father more than any ounce of my own being. I’ve been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me – the life I do live on earth, I’m going to live to HIS glory. And by His grace, He’s going to make something of this wretched sinner.
Love you, brothers and sisters!