As a pastor's wife I do want to be an example for Christ and lead others with honor and integrity, but I also want to be careful that I'm not pretending to be perfect. Because I am far from it. My deepest desire is to love Jesus and worship Him through everything I do and say on this earth. If being honest about my faults and weaknesses can draw others closer to Him, than I will humbly proceed.
Today I read my devotional book Loving God by Mike Bickle (get it, it's in-your-face short daily reflections for intimacy with God that will rock your world). I am always challenged when I read it. I couldn't stop reading ahead because the next three daily lessons were intertwined. The message was about how each of us has an area of compromise to which we retreat at some point in our lives.
"It is a place of supposed refuge that empowers us to continue in disobedience. It's the place where we devise little systems that give us sinful pleasure and false comfort when God's will becomes too intense for us. The Lord does not reject us during these times, but He doesn't approve of our sin, either. He looks for ways to restore us, not destroy us.
This place of compromise is like a cubbyhole where we escape from the realm of God's promises and retreat into the enemy's territory where we feel safer. And then when everything falls apart, we return to our root system and find strength in the Lord. One of the greatest miracles that can happen in the life of a discouraged believer is knowing the Lord's mercy and delight so deeply that we run toward Him in our time of greatest sin. David said, 'God, You know I'm wandering. You take notice of my compromises. I'm out of Your will, and my ways are not hidden from You.' God will reveal Himself as gentle to us when we are in this place of compromise."
So what is my place of compromise? Perfectionism and being too busy.
I have always been the teacher's pet, the goody-two-shoes, the over-achieving kid. I thrived on people-pleasing growing up. I had to be number one at everything I did- it was either all or nothing. I would stay up all night working on a project if I had to in order to get a perfect score. I would bend over backwards to make sure everyone liked me. I had no backbone and no boundaries.
God started speaking to me gently about this issue in Bible college. Over those critical years He stripped me of the veil of people-pleasing that covered my eyes and opened my heart to complete and total abandonment to Him alone. I learned how to say "no", and how to let it go if someone didn't like me (this is still soooo hard.) I learned how to prioritize my life so that I was spending enough alone time with God and down time for myself.
Fast forward 8 years and I find myself a wife, mother, pastor's wife, and photographer juggling the many hats of life. I love trying new things, growing and learning. I love setting goals and reaching for dreams. I love pushing myself and am focused and determined.
But constantly I battle my perfectionism, people-pleasing, and over-scheduling tendencies. I want to see everyone, do everything, and have my cake and eat it too. It just isn't possible, mathematically (as in, hours in a day) and emotionally. I know I've pushed it too far when I wake up with a cold sore and feel like a truck ran over me three times in a row.
I am deeply in love with Jesus and crave His presence, His Word, His voice. But I am continually fighting the urge to do do do and go go go. I purposefully have to schedule time in my life to spend with God, read books, and do my devotions. If I don't plan it in my day, it won't happen. I have a routine and if I veer away from it, then my spirit suffers. If I skip my devotions, I tend to lose my patience quicker with my kids and feel down throughout the day. I always realize my mistake and feel that pull to come back to Him.
It's like a tug-of-war game with my self, my flesh. The Holy Spirit inside me becons me to intimacy with Jesus and to throw off the fear of man. Yet the flesh fights back and I am tempted to fall back into my old ways of people-pleasing and being too busy. It's a constant battle and every day I fight it. I look at my calender on a regular basis and remind myself that I can't say "yes" to everything, I can't be "everything to everyone", that I can't save the world. And what a prideful thing to think, anyways? Jesus Christ can (and will) save the world without my help, so why do I put a savior complex on myself? I used to devote all my energy, prayers, and time to those I was mentoring in an unhealthy way. Of course we are supposed to love others and live as God has called us as believers, but He certainly didn't call us to burn out and run dry. He will use me as His vessel but He is certainly the one doing the saving.
I need my cup to runneth over if I really want to pour into others. And when I am over scheduling myself and trying to please people, my cup will run dry. Jesus alone needs to be my source of identity. I want my default respond to be, "All I want to do is spend time with Jesus!" instead of, "All I want to do is run around and serve in ministry!" Of course, I know there is a healthy balance between the two. God hasn't called us to be hermits always spending time with Him and never reaching this world. But He hasn't called us to burn out either. I am forever on this journey of balancing the two.
I love knowing that He loves me, no matter what I do or don't do "for Him". I put these expectations on myself that He never intended for me to bear. I want to do everything I can in life with excellence and integrity. But at the same time, I want to be transparent on the open heart surgery table of God.
We are all on a journey together, my friends. Until I see His face, I want every bit of me burned away. Until I see His face, I need you and you need me. An upward climb on the mountain of grace and humility.
Until I see His face.