Thursday, March 5, 2015

Losing Myself In Perfection-Finding Myself In The Mess

It isn't easy to be transparent and share is it? We like to pretend all is perfect in our world. Because as Christians what would others say about us if they knew the truth of our struggles? Aren't we suppose to be able to do it all? We know women who do, so why would we struggle to do the same? Could it be that we aren't the ones having struggling? We learn to hide our insecurities and struggles. We don't want the world around us to see that we have a hard time figuring it all out. 

I remember the that summer perfectly. Although it was years ago, my thoughts can still take me back in an instant. It was the summer I pretended all was perfect, but in reality I was a mess. I was so tired of trying to do it all. What kind of a Christian was I if I couldn't keep up with the demands of life? Not a very good one. At least that's how I felt inside. I'm not sure who I was competing with. I was just determined. But God had other plans. He had lessons for me to learn and they weren't going to be easy for this girl who didn't need any help. 

My husband was on the road a lot. So, it was me at home with the kids. All five of them. I was mom and step-mom. But in our house we didn't do half or step. We simply were family. Only nothing was simple about that. I was trying to be everything for everyone and in the busyness of that summer I lost myself. There was the mom to my step-children and the dad to my girls. That was a mess to try and figure out. Balancing a blended family is not easy especially when no one is helping to make it easy. Let's just say there was no one who wasn't guilty of messing things up. It seems we each had our hand in that. 

We were about to finish our school year. I home-schooled my three children. I was now homeschooling two of them as my oldest daughter was attending public high school. It was just about time to begin our vacation with my step-children. This was an exciting time for us, but this particular summer was jam-packed. Did I mention our oldest daughter was getting married? Yes, there was wedding planning. Let's not forget the bridal shower too. 

I was finishing up teaching our children. I was teaching Sunday school, our Awana year was coming to a close, and was helping out with other activities at church. There was vacation Bible school and summer camp. There were softball sign ups and baseball too. As if that weren't enough they needed a softball coach for my daughter's softball team. Yep, I said, yes. 

I too was on our softball team at church. Are you tired yet? I'm exhausted. I was trying to fit in every single need. I wasn't the girl to say, no. I was that people pleasing girl who was about to lose it and didn't even know it was about to hit her. 

When the church doors are open and there is a need you're suppose to be there, right? I mean, this is what I had been taught for years. This was the year I found out that no matter how much one does it is never enough. Yes, this was the year where my body said, I'm done. The migraines and panic attacks started shortly after this summer. I was on overload, but wasn't this suppose to be normal? I was the Christian mom. My hand was just about in everything. While I was trying to take care of everyone else I lost sight of my own children and their needs. After all, mom was too busy to listen anymore. Everything looked perfect therefore it must be. 

I had always been that mom who listened and was there for her children. But this summer was different. I was there, but too much was going on. Have you too been there? There wasn't enough of me to go around and I allowed Satan strongholds in my life. He was able to sneak in places where he made himself at home. 

Here's where  the truth really cuts deep. I was not just trying to be mom, but to be the step-mom to impress the mom of my step-children. After all, if she couldn't do all that was needed I was going to show her I could. As the demands of church kept growing I was on a mission to show everyone I could get done what needed to be done and more. Ouch. That hurts to admit. Have you too been there? Competing to see who can do it best? 

Doctor appointments, dental appointments, shopping, the chores at home, the lessons I had to learn for the classes I was teaching, and I had to teach twelve girls who never played softball before to throw a ball to home plate and not swing at everything. 

What was I thinking? If it was a task before me I had to get it done and do my best. People depended upon me. This was God's will, right? Wasn't I suppose to say, yes, to all these things? I'm a Christian, a mom, a wife, a servant. No wasn't an option that I knew. 

This was the summer a wedge began forming between me and my daughters. I didn't want to see that everything wasn't okay. I was pretending it was perfect. I was doing everything I could possible do to please God, my family, and my church, but it wasn't enough. There was always more and let me be honest. Not a lot of, thank yous. 

See, I wanted to be accepted and loved and admired. Somewhere in there sin began forming. I thought my intentions were all good, but looking back now I can see that I was getting mixed up in simply being a super Christian. I had to be the best mom and wife. I had to be the best Sunday school teacher and my Awana kids needed me. After all many of them came from homes like me where Christ wasn't welcome. 

My husband is my biggest cheerleader. But I even had him fooled into thinking I could simply keep going at warp speed. My step-son played baseball, and our youngest son played too. Our youngest daughter played and I was the coach, so through the week there were always practices. We had church softball on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Games for the kids on the weekends. Yes, I was spreading myself really thin. I was in a lot of places doing a lot of things, but I was being fueled by acceptance and pride. I was running on empty. But there was my smile and my can-do attitude. I was determined to do it all. 

The wedding came and the games ended. Vacation Bible school passed as well as summer camp. As the summer ended I was happy to see it go. The game of perfection could now end. This is where I truly came to understand that I wasn't meant to be perfect. I wasn't meant to do every job available and are you ready? It was okay for me to say, no. I wasn't a failure if I said, no. I wasn't a failure if I didn't get everything done. I wasn't a failure if I didn't get everything right. These are life lessons that began that summer and life lessons that I am still learning and overcoming. 

It's easy to fall into the trap that we have to do it all. It's easy to feel like a failure. We compete with others. We see others doing the perfection and we think we too must get it right. Because if we don't something has to be wrong with us. Friends, there's nothing wrong with us. We have to set limits. We have to set boundaries around us. 

Although we are called to serve there is nothing that comes before our family. God is first in our lives, but He will never call us away from what is truly important. Satan's lies are real and they are tricky. We get lost in them. We get lost in thinking we have to be everything for everyone. I'm not God and I'm not the super-Christian I tried so hard to be. There is no super-Christian. 

That summer taught me such valuable lessons. I believe that's why Jesus allowed that summer of busyness to continue. He wanted me to realize that He is my Everything and He doesn't expect me to be perfect. All He asks is that I give Him my heart. If your church is calling you to serve in areas where you have not prayed over and feel called, say, no. When we say, no, it opens the door for another who has been called to say, yes. 

The world wasn't going to fall apart if I said, no. It wasn't going to end if I couldn't get everything right. I wasn't suppose to be perfect. I was suppose to be real. The girl God was calling me to be. I was just to be the best mom and wife I could be. I was simply to love my family and to serve where God called, not man. I was to be the best me possible and that begins with making Jesus our center. It can be easy to lose focus. We allow the world to dictate who we are and what we are to do. 

In our too busy lives we miss out on seeing what God has before us. We aren't suppose to be on overload. We must learn to balance life. It isn't easy when there's so much to do, but figuring out what's truly important is a good place to start. 

Don't put your guard down. Satan want nothing more than to destroy everything good. He'll use any tactic available. It's not only okay to say, no, but it's okay to simply be focused on your family. Yes, God calls us to serve, but friends, that doesn't mean allowing your family to slip through the cracks while your out there trying to get everything done. 

Allow God to be your measuring stick. Don't leave Him out your life. Put your life in His hands and listen to where He is calling. Just maybe someone else can teach Sunday school. Another can take over teaching Awana who has been wanting to teach for a long time now. Someone else can be the coach. Don't be afraid to ask for help with the wedding plans. Before you allow the world to take over your life, count what those demands are going to cost. 

God has given me peace in struggling for perfection. I'm only perfect in Him. Outside of Him I'm a complete mess. So when those ideals of perfection enter my mind I'm learning to release them to the Lord and trust Him. As far as that wedge that Satan began to build between me and my daughters, I can say with praise that we are closer now than ever before. What Satan tried to destroy the Lord blessed with grace and mercy. 

I've learned that trusting God with everything and measuring all through His Word and prayer is the path that leads to a life well lived. I was lost in all that busyness and somewhere along the way I thought in doing everything asked of me I would somehow please God. Don't allow Satan to deceive you in this way. It isn't the things we do that matters. It's our heart.  God is more concerned with our heart than what we can or cannot do. 
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