For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will
make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their
lawless deeds no more.”
(Hebrews 10:14-17, English Standard Version)
Hi, friends. Thanks for joining me today. This has been a pretty emotional week for me. A tidbit of that might be because today is this guy’s 8th birthday!
As you can probably tell, he is full of joy and life. He loves the Lord, and he loves lovin’ on his mama, and he blesses me in so many ways. Sometimes I look at him (and his daddy and brother) and I think about all those bad choices I made and the insanity cycles I’ve been caught in, and yet here’s flesh and blood proof of God’s love, grace, and mercy.
Alright. That was my mommy moment.
Let’s cut to the chase, or dive right in if you prefer a different cliché. There was a time—like just a few days ago—that in my mind using a cliché clearly demonstrated below average writing skills, but, if you remember Monday Mayhem Round and Round, I’m stepping out so…moving on….
Ok, friends, check out this cutie patootie:
Yes, I’m tooting my own horn a little—and becoming quite comfortable with using clichés I might add.
I actually remember the day this picture was taken.
When I came home that day, I was panicking because I couldn’t remember if I had put my pigtails in front when I had my picture taken like my mom had asked. I was really proud (and maybe relieved) when we got the pictures back because I hadn’t forgotten after all, and the picture turned out rather nice, you agree?
During that same year (1st grade), I missed two out of four questions on a reading assignment, which meant that I had failed the assignment. I took the paper home, folded it up, and put it in a trinket box(?) that sat on our mantle. I eventually had to tell my mom about the F because she wanted to know what I was crying so hard over. I don’t remember what she said when I pulled the assignment out of the trinket box, but I remember feeling so ashamed of myself for making such a bad grade. My dad came home and Mom had me show him the evidence of my failure. Neither of them seemed concerned. In fact, I think they may have found it amusing that at only 6, I was devastated by something so seemingly insignificant.
Friends, it has been a loooonnnggg time since that little girl worried over pigtails and felt devastated over a grade on a reading assignment, so why did I spend part of Wednesday night digging through old family photos in search of my “1st-grade-pigtails-in-front” picture?
Let me just go ahead and say that I hope you’re not expecting a definitive, concrete answer to that question because truthfully, I’m still a little fuzzy about exactly what God is leading me to do with my newfound awareness, but here’s where I’m at for today at least.
I believe I spent a good hour and a half searching for that picture because it represents the first memory I have of feeling inadequate, of feeling like a failure, of feeling like my best—because I believe my devastation over the failing grade shows that I did my best on that reading assignment—wasn’t enough. And I believe that photo and the memories that go along with it illustrate the beginning of an insanity cycle that I’m just now admitting exists. (I told you I was stepping out of the revolving door, friends).
Why is nothing I do good enough? This is the question that lingers in my mind like a customer who’s still just browsing the racks at closing time. Why won’t she, it, just go away?
I read a student evaluation a few months ago that said I was “nice and all,” but I really don’t know how to teach college-level literature, so I’m not offering much to my students. It didn’t matter that several of my colleagues shared their own “student evaluation nightmare stories” with me, and that some of them were “worse” than mine.
I also received an evaluation from a course evaluator that I found very disappointing and so I fixated on it—even though my boss assured me the evaluation was actually quite good and he’s pleased with my performance.
9 out of 10 times that my mother visits me, she says, “You don’t give yourself enough credit. You’re so hard on yourself,” and then she lists all the things I’m doing “right,” and I want to believe her, but I just know I’m failing my boys because I can’t seem to make dinners chocked full of organic fruits and organic vegetables—or even nonorganic fruits and nonorganic vegetables for that matter—7, 5, 3 days a week. And I can’t seem to not yell at the boys when I’ve asked them 942 times to get their jackets on so we can leave and not be later than we already are.
And poor David. Really. He may have it worse of all. I can’t remember to put the check that he has already written for daycare in the payment box when I drop off or pick up Caleb even if it’s in my pocket. And he does his own laundry….
Not. Good. Enough.
Do you remember that on Monday I defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results?
Friends, I keep pushing and pushing towards my goal of perfection convinced that I can one day achieve it, but guess what? (I bet you can guess). I constantly fall short of my goal. In these past couple of weeks I have found myself overwhelmed by what I now recognize as my insanity cycle of perfection.
And I know that I can/will never achieve perfection and yet I still try and feel like a failure when I’m unable to achieve it.
But this week I declared, enough is Enough is ENOUGH.
Do you know what I knew even before I knew that I struggled with perfectionism?
In spite of the self-berating thoughts that infiltrate my mind, I know that God’s …way is perfect; his word is flawless. He is a shied for all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 18:30, ESV).
I know that [i]t is God that arms me with strength and makes my way perfect (Psalm 18:32, ESV).
Friends, sanity, the opposite of insanity, is making decisions based on truth, and truth can only come from God. I know that I need to fill my head with his truths that I am recklessly loved; that I am chosen; that I am invaluable; that I’m not bound by my past mistakes and have been made new in Christ; that I’m filled with the Holy Spirit that gives me strength, perseverance, and too many other things to list at 1:40 in the morning; that the grace God gives is never ceasing. God’s truths, and his truths alone, can obliterate the condemnation, shame, unrealistic expectations, beyond-reach standards that occupy my thoughts because I think perfected works will mean a perfected me.
He is enough, friends, and he is perfect. Nothing I could ever do could make me perfect, but the blood Jesus shed on the cross for my sins makes me perfect even as I’m still a sinner who has been focused on Stephanie’s unrealistic expectations instead of God’s truths that can set me free.
Step out of the revolving door of your insanity cycle, friends, whatever it may be, and declare with me, “enough is Enough is ENOUGH!”
Pray with me.
You are enough. Forgive us for the times we lose sight of your perfection. Forgive us for forgetting that we were made perfect in Jesus’s sacrifice and can now spend eternity with you. Help us overcome our own thoughts and break the chains of our insanity cycles. We surrender our hearts to you, Lord, and invite you into our hearts to change us from the inside out.
In Jesus’s Name,
Come back Monday to read more about insanity from Maggie.