Thursday, September 1, 2011
September - Sweet-sounding Word
I love making schedules. But I hate following them. So I make long lists of responsibilities, goals, ministries, and opportunities. I tend to get so very excited and try to swallow everything whole and smash it into the tidy lines of a notebook. Everything looks so do-able and reasonable and productive on paper. After a few weeks of struggling to carry it all though, my long list of possibilities has become a record of failure. A guilty reminder that I didn’t complete what I set out to do, or at the very least, a reminder that I didn’t do it as well as I had expected to.
Then I lecture myself on laziness, on my short temper, and on my resentment of the tasks I formerly enjoyed. And I forget that all of these attitudes are symptoms of a disease, and no matter how hard I work to cure the symptoms, it will be a fruitless battle unless I find an accurate diagnosis for my condition.
The 1st of September is wooing me again this year. Trying to make me believe that I will miss out if I don’t embrace every offered opportunity. Trying to convince me that if I don’t accept every ministry as my personal mission, than I am a poor Christian. Trying to induce me to walk in my own strength, to buckle down and just try harder.
So I am having the conversations with myself again. Am I taking on too much? Am I being lazy for trying to simplify? I should say no more often. No, I shouldn’t be so focused on my schedule, I need to be more flexible. Paul talks about being poured out as a drink offering. Am I being selfish with my time? What about my husband? It doesn’t feel right to pour myself out to others so that I am empty for him. But what about having eyes for the needs of others? Do I have unrealistic expectations for myself? I don’t want to be one of those wimpy people who can’t handle everyday responsibilities. Neither do I want to be one of those agitated people who have no peace in their lives and run around one step behind their to-do lists.
I so desperately want to do everything well! And it hurts my pride to say that I can’t take something on. My mind remembers the stinging embarrassment of telling someone I didn’t have the time to commit to some activity and hearing their scornful “You can’t handle this workload? Man, you are going to be in trouble when you have kids to take care of if you’re already overwhelmed now!” Internally, I responded defensively and with anger, followed by a discouraged wondering if they were right.
As I remember that conversation, the memory helps to reveal my heart issue: a deeply rooted pride. This desire to be able to handle it all, to show myself capable, to be excellent in all I do, to receive the approval of those who will tell me when I am not doing enough. A perfectionism that seeks satisfaction in the approval of myself and others. This pride takes my Spirit-driven desire to serve my Lord and His people and twists my motives into self-service and renders my efforts useless and exhausting. I ignore my desperate need of the Spirit's strengthening power and forget that all my breath, my very ability to move and work, comes from Him alone.
Father, give me the ability to discern what you desire from me in this season. Give me eyes to see that everything I do is to be done for your glory and allow that to motivate me to pursue excellence in everything my hands find to do. Forgive me for trying to earn the approval of man instead of seeking how I might please you with my time and my actions. Thank you so much that I don’t have to earn Your approval, that Christ's blood has purchased it for me forever.. Thank you that I can approach Your throne in confidence, knowing that when You look at me, You see the righteousness of Your Son. Forgive me when I arrogantly think that I need to add the filthy rags of my good works to the sacrifice of Christ before I can walk in joy before You. Please take the offering of my life as a sacrifice of praise, poured out to Your will and use it to Your glory.