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Wrestle

Linking up with Holley Gerth at http://holleygerth.com to talk about perfectionism and being free of it.  Her new book discusses this topic in depth, Your Loved No Matter What:Freeing Your Heart From the Need to Be Perfect. You can find out more about it at http://holley-gerth.myshopify.com/products/loved.

The question this week is, "What's your story of wrestling with trying to be perfect?  How is God setting you free?"  

I grew up with that equation that says perfect living is equal to holy living.  They seemed to be the same.  I know my parents meant well and still do.  I know they only wanted the best and wanted my sister and I to do our best.  But all those rules and all those goals and all of that trying hard determined to do your best always in every thing equals a distorted view of grace.
It is a concept I truly never ever understood with those big navy blue eyes looking out of my child face.
I would hear about the deep, wide grace of God, but my heart never knew it.  Never comprehended it.

Out of the same mouths that spoke of that love came the words of dissatisfaction when mistakes were made and your best wasn't achieved.  I even remember hearing one of my parents quote that scripture piously, "Be perfect as I am perfect." And the way that expectation further crushed me as a little girl.  How just hearing that phrase made my heart tremble knowing I could never ever do that, but I better try.

This idea of being perfect infected every realm of my life as a little girl.  I remember it all starting the year I turned seven.  When innocently being completely unaware of self consciousness was shattered.
Like a serpentine chain that was weaving its way into every part of my little heart, already.
I have three distinct memories of that bondage holding snake stealing the joy of that year for me.  And i was just too young to know that it was wrong, that it was evil.  That it wasn't God's perfect grace, but an invitation to oppression.  I succumbed.  I bended.  I opened up my heart and swallowed the lie that being perfect or sure as hell trying to be perfect was the same as being holy.
And that chain just got thicker and tighter.
And my heart got darker.  And so serious.  For one so little.
There were several points by the time I reached middle school and high school that I was keeping lists of the sins I had committed in an effort to will myself not to do them again.  The journals I kept and the prayers I prayed were like inner self mutilation instead of a daughter that just loved her Father because He loved her.

I never realized that all that Jacob wrestling I was doing with God to be perfect and just hear Him whisper to me, "It is enough" was already answered.  He let me wear myself out for about fifteen years until I no longer had the spirit to do so.  Until my heart waxed jaded and angry.
Until I finally realized I already had the blessing...I had Him and that would be my Only Perfect.
Like a long winter that seemed forever the long awaited spring thaw around my heart began one day quietly and started to defrost me for the next several years.

I sat with my legs curled up in that ancient Queen Anne chair in my parents living room.  My eyes serious like always pouring over my bible reading for the day and these words fell like long awaited love over me and my heart eyes finally fluttered awake,

For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”But you would not,
Isaiah 30:15.  


I hadn't known anything about rest, about confidence, or about a quiet soul.  Just one always striving to prove myself.  To prove something to God and everyone else.  Those last four words stung me, "But you would not." And I had not.  I had wrestled for so long that I had never rested in anything and just let Grace sweep over me.  Like Jacob who had to be hip wrenched, I did too.  And my deep wrenching would be seizing the idea of trying so hard and instead I'd have to fall hard into love by realizing that I was loved already.

It began that day and has continued.  Sometimes I go back to that wrestle.  A lot of times.  It feels so natural, so easy to live that way.  But every time it puts me right back into that bondage and makes grace fly away and God feel so far.







Comments

  1. Hi Summer,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. How thankful I am for our Lord's loving kindness, who gently guides us into the depths of His grace, truth, and unfailing love.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Somer,
    Oh how I can relate to your thoughts today! I think we are a lot alike (as you posted over on my blog today!) and we are eager to follow rules and do things the right way because that's how we're wired, but it only puts us on the path to perfect and leaves grace behind. But I feel that as we come through these experiences to the other side and realize all that grace is and all that God offers, that is somehow sweeter, don't you think?

    I too, spent my childhood seriously studying the Bible and learning scripture verses, without really understanding how deep and how wide and how great is God's love for me. Although I'm grateful for the foundation, it's as if I'm discovering him anew now and I wouldn't trade that for anything! Somer, you are a beautiful soul and as we wrestle with these things, God is gracious to reveal himself to us in ways we've never imagined! So so grateful for you, friend -- love reading your pondering and insightful thoughts!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes! We need to rest to feel and see God's grace. Our strivings don't leave room for God to work within us. May you continue to grow in beauty and grace as our Father leads you deeper into his heart.

    ReplyDelete

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