Tuesday, September 04, 2012

in the mending

"I loved to run.
But more than that, I loved people’s reaction when I won.
And over the years, the Lord has taught me (Over and over. And then some more) that I need to stop running for the crowd. The applause is one thing, but truthfully, it’s not what pushes me. It’s the fear of disappointing anyone that haunts me. The feeling that I’m not enough, or that I’ve failed someone. It’s a miserable way to approach the race, let me tell you." 
As I read those words earlier this week, they struck me hard.  They could have been my own words.  Not the running part of course -- I don't know that anyone has ever cheered me on for my running prowess -- but doing something for the reaction it brought in others?  Yes. Ma'am.  That's a big part of my story and I'm only recently realizing how big a part it has been.  People-pleasing, finding your worth in achievement, placing your value in others' acceptance or approval is great, when you're great.  When you're not great, however, it is -- as Angie says-- miserable.  

It's all very American of me, though isn't it?  Very modern feminist (not the angry bra-burning variety, but the intelligent and capable club of 20 and 30 something women, daughters of the bra-burners) of me, right?  

While those are true, it's also part of the genetic make-up of who I am.  Passed on to me much like my red hair, fair skin, and baby-birthing hips, or my strong-willed nature, love of laughter, and disdain for slow-walkers.  You can't see the do-it-myself gene in my mom just by looking at her, but as sure as I sit here, she got it honestly from her own mother.  

The problem is that the do-it-myself, try harder, getting it done gene is actually evidence of mistrust and conceit.  I don't say those things to disparage my mom or grandmother; some things are really a product of necessity of the fallen world in which we live.  When you step back from it and ask the "why" and search for an earnest answer, it's unavoidable - for me at least.  

The do-it-myself gene is exhibit A in the case that I do much of what I do for approval and recognition and acceptance. The thinking goes something like this:  If I do it, I'll do it right, and then people will know I did it - not anyone else.  I don't want anyone else to screw this up.  

All of this works nicely when you are able to live under the illusion that you are in control and the world in working your favor.  Misery and self-hated ensue when that illusion comes crashing down in a heap.  

And now to the point, where is the mending?  How has God been working on me in this area?  He's brought the oh-so-basic and yet so much bigger than my mind can comprehend Truth of Grace  

Grace says that neither my failures - nor my successes -- define me, my Savior defines me.  

Grace says that I am not good enough, but He is.

Grace says that I don't have to try harder, He's accomplished all that matters.

Grace says that I don't have to keep up appearances, He's promised that I will not be accepted by the world if I choose to follow Him.  

Grace says that I do not have to strive to find hope in myself or in this world, but I can rest in the Extravagant Truth that Christ in me is the Hope of Glory.  

And so the story is too long already - and not long enough.  

To be continued . . .


This post is written in celebration of my friend Angie Smith's book Mended releasing.  I've only just started to read it; and it will be one I have to read through slowly and often. :-)  I already highly recommend it though and it can be purchased here or here.

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