Years ago when I was first learning what it meant to be a Christian, I heard many teachings on how to be a godly wife/mother/friend/etc., and through that I started to form ideas in my mind as to what I “thought” it meant to follow Jesus. Along with this, I had many friends going through the same stage I was at and we were all trying so hard that we tended to be very severe with what we would/would not allow. For example, I remember when Sponge-Bob came out on Nickelodeon, and it was a big deal as to why we wouldn’t let our kids watch it…but MY husband saw nothing wrong with it, so our kids watched it. I mean, obviously Sponge-Bob and Patrick’s friendship is a direct correlation to our relationship with the Holy Spirit, right? Right? No? OK, it was worth a try.
Because of what felt to me to be such strong lines of what we were, and were not, allowed to do, I felt like I was always making the wrong choices. I started to think that no matter how much I wanted to follow God and serve Him, I was just not strong enough to keep all the “rules” and live the way that other people lived. So I walked away, quietly in my heart, and gave up on following God. I still went to church and served, always doing everything I could faithfully, but never feeling good enough, and always feeling like I was putting on a show. After all, who did I think I was to serve a God so perfect?
Inside I always felt the question:
Are you godly enough?
Can you be good enough?
And every time the answer was a somber “no”.
It was a time in my life where I closed off my relationship with HIm and made it private, and I was always saddened by my inability to make it all work.
It wasn’t until years later that I finally came to realize that I was right, there was no way I could be holy enough on my own, but that God didn’t expect me to be! I learned that it’s Him that changes us! We could never hope to be perfect and change all the “bad” things about ourselves on our own. How could a flawed person ever hope to change their own heart and think that they could make it good? We would fail hopelessly, every time, getting an “A” for effort, but becoming utterly discouraged in the process.
Before I came to this realization, I used to think my marriage was not good enough (after all it didn’t look like my friend’s marriages), my kids were not good enough (they didn’t seem perfect like everyone else’s kids), and my faith never seemed to be even adequate (all I could see were my failures and everyone else’s successes. Friends, this is just one reason it is SO important to live an honest life of failures and successes in front of people! I can not stress this enough – our pride can put on an “everything is perfect” face just to protect ourselves, but at the same time you are actually shaming those around you into thinking that perfect is what is normal and expected. We need to live open and honest lives before those around us. You never know when someone is watching you, and they need to know what a real walk with God looks like, struggles and all.
If you walk away from this blog with nothing else today, please remember that you don’t have to be perfect! You may not look like everyone else, and that’s good! Be your own person, the way that God made you, and enjoy the life he’s given you. Since my thinking has changed, I’m happier in my marriage, with my kids (and that says a lot if you know our lives – they are not perfect – just like their parents), and with God. I no longer feel like I’m doomed to a life of always coming up short, instead I get to live each day the best I can, knowing He’s with me and that He loves me just like I am. I also know He’s never going to give up on me or leave me how I am now, I am a work in progress. Just like fine wine, I’m only going to get better!
Is this something that you’ve ever struggled with? What set you free? Are you still struggling? Leave your comments below!