In case you are in an emotional experience of being hard on yourself or not seeing a way out of your own lack of excellent performance in your current circumstances, this blog is for you. Unfortunately perfectionism and performance based identity pervade the church. It’s unfortunateness is that it keeps individuals from experiencing heaven in just their living breathing daily life. It’s common enough, or a safe enough problem to have because it’s not against the law, it can get you ahead in approval seeking ambition or the inner disappointment you carry inside of yourself doesn’t interrupt daily living too much.
In Christ we are no longer under the law; he fulfilled the spirit of the law, and therefore it’s requirements completely. The law works itself out in some sneaky ways. Responsibility and expectations are some common forms of control in relationships, even in the relationship we hold with ourselves. You view yourself as the way you should be, or how you should act, or what you should be getting done. Even when achieving small goals or completing tasks or being helpful, we can still carry the feeling of failure if any of those things were less than, later than, or not quite up to our own expectations. Cue disappointment.
This is a wonderful way to miss the joy of existence. Without knowing it, we may embark on a journey, a project, or a relationship with preconceived expectations in our mind of how that experience or interaction should or would play out. Things may even start off smashing and go according to plan at first. It shouldn’t surprise us anymore but then bumps come in the road, at least bumps according to our expectations. And then what do we do?
How do you crawl out of a pit of the feeling of other people’s disappointment with you? How do you escape from the feeling of your own disappointment with yourself? Couldn’t I have handled situations differently? Couldn’t I have made different choices and avoided the circumstances I see around me? Can’t I manipulate and control things now and get things back to the way I had wanted them, the way I always saw them? Can’t I fix things and get them unbroken? Then I wouldn’t have to feel this way. Then I wouldn’t have to be this way.
Expectations over our own lives, and expectations other carry over us–whether intentionally or not–only carry with them the power to accuse. When expectations are the foundations of relationship they are the fuel for guilt, shame, and condemnation. Cue performance and perfectionism. If you continue to hold onto those images of unmet expectation over your own life as a source of fuel for your own judgment of your value now, you will never experience the heaven that was purchased for you by Christ, that is meant to be a free gift for your fullness of being alive right now.
Even in subtle forms or not so subtle forms we tell ourselves that those expectations came from God; they are what God originally designed or gave us vision for in the past, or these expectations come by what I obviously should be doing by looking around at others (not recommended). All of these leave a nice big hole in our heart not filled by Christ, but by our own accusations of performance-based failure.
God died to deliver you from the prison and cage of living a life of obligation, requirements, musts, duties, and have to’s. His relationship with you has never been based on your performance. Sometimes the reminder feels like a slap in the face but its the glorious good news: you cannot earn your right standing with God. Your own assessment of yourself through your own eyes or the eyes of others will never measure up to any humanistic ruler of behaviors and choices–religious or unreligious–whatever that means.
You are not a disappointment to God. Who you are, right now, is not a disappointment. God knows this but do you? In this cycle of performance we sit upon our own assessments of our lives compared to perceived expectations and continually come out lacking. If god has given us a directive and we didn’t listen or failed, then we can participate in relationship and tell him that and experience forgiveness through Christ. We must remove ourselves from our high seats of self-judgment by LETTING GO (let it gooo, let it gooo) of the expectations we have created, that God is not holding on to, because until we do, we will continue to believe the familiar lie that our value or our worth is according to our own assessments. While often ours is not, his perspective is the perfection of Christ.
Anything less and we wake up in the morning to feelings of disappointment, we experience awesome things all-the-while sitting next our companion of disappointment, and then tomorrow–again, we will not have hope because now our expectation (of God or of ourselves) is to be a disappointment (to others or to ourselves). To the degree that you resort to assessing your value or worth based on your own expectations of performance is the degree to which you haven’t experienced Christ in your identity. In order for love to cast out fear, even in your relationship with yourself in your own mind, it must not be based on your performance.
“God grant me the SERENITY to accept the things that I cannot change”…or don’t need to be and the wisdom to enjoy life.
Or what do we do when we’re really disappointed with God and holding it over him in our relationship with him? Is your relationship with him, your intimacy with him, based your own ideas of who he should be or should have been…to you? He’s okay with disappointing you because its not his obligation to meet your expectations of himself. He knows who he is. He is way better than any of us have given him credit for. It’s the unmet expectation over him you’re being invited to let go of so that you can experience once again the exchange of love with him without conditions on either one of you. This requires trust. Trust can be scary, but is a fruit of love. God disappointed everyone by dying on a cross at the age of 33 rather than delivering his people from the tyranny of Rome. He’s okay with being misunderstood and accused of failure. He’s got a different perspective and its far better than ours I assure you.
Your value, and God’s affections for you, are undiminashable. I want to encourage you today. In your rest, God can bring about all he has gloriously planned for you to experience in this life. Maybe even lay down the process of making expectations over yourself and discover the wonder and beauty of your life as he reveals its glory to you.