So I did something scary today. I went on Facebook Live… That woke up my fear of public speaking in a big way :/. Yikes that was stress-inducing… Anyways…….
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am a goal driven creature. I have this way of turning even the most relaxing activities into high pressure situations without meaning to. I blame it on the perfectionism I work so hard to shake. Just when I think I’ve escaped the beast, I realize it has surfaced in other ways.
For instance, a few days ago, I felt the need to take a short mental break from writing for publication and dabble with a project I’d written a while back. Just for fun. Taking some time to forget about marketability, platform, and target audience… The things that don’t come as naturally as putting words down on a page. The project does have a purpose, mind you. But it was supposed to be a relaxed, low-pressure activity. SO, I started writing.
Before I knew it, I had invented self-imposed deadlines for finishing the project, as well as my method for launching the project in order to increase its visibility.
I’d spun myself into an anxious mess with far too many plans bouncing in my head. With all this crowding my mind, it was impossible to let creativity flow. Or have fun.
Anyone else have a tendency to let projects spin out of control and become bigger than you intended?
So much of this sprouts from leaning on striving and achievement for self-worth. We desire tangible proof that we “measure up” to some imaginary standard that we or someone else created. And when we fall short, guilt creeps in. When the house isn’t clean as we feel it should be. Or our children don’t behave in the ways we have taught them. A deadlines skates past. A responsibility falls through the cracks. When we look at the accomplishments of others and know that we don’t measure up. That guilt tends to leads to one of two things. Freezing. Or diving in head first, overworking ourselves.
To combat this “self-worth through works” mentality, I’m focusing on setting grace goals in my life. I’m tired of the ones I inadvertently place on myself.
Grace goals don’t leave a person with headaches, stilted creativity, and heart palpitations. (But, Facebook Live does for those like me with a huge fear of public speaking. In case you were wondering…)
What are grace goals? And how do you live by them?
I begin by asking God what His main goal for me for that day is. I make that top priority over anything else. Even over my to-do list, and goodness knows I love my lists. Maybe the specific goal He speaks to my heart is to be an encourager. Everything else in my day falls behind that goal, and moves through it. No matter how mundane the day’s tasks, I challenge myself to find ways to incorporate that grace goal. Not “do more” but “be with Him in all things.” If something on my to-do list is hindering the goal God has given me, because I am over-taxed and over-extended, I set that item on the list aside for another day. To stay on track I must remain aware of my focus points and pray through when I lose sight of what’s important.
How much of what we push ourselves to do is because we feel we “ought to” and how much is because it is what God actually asks of us?
Living life by grace goals instead of achievement means leaving behind striving to “make things happen” and rest in knowing that as we seek God first, He will help us handle the details. It is releasing the responsibility to “do more” and embracing who He has called us to be. It is functioning in our God-given giftings. Without the pressure of results. Those are left in His hands.
God has put it in my heart to write. It’s a way I worship and share the testimony of God’s impact on my life. Striving and becoming anxious about my accomplishments and the timelines I set for myself is not living a grace-led life. Growing in my gifting and taking the risk of stepping through the doors God opens is my responsibility. But it is not my responsibility to live up to my self-created standards. My self-imposed deadlines are not from God, and thus must be placed in submission to Him. If I release my grip on these lesser things, it affords me the opportunity to let grace cover my day.
God cares far less about the quantity of what we accomplish and far more about the quality. We may have grand plans and feel disappointed when results don’t meet our expectations. Our feelings don’t indicate whether or not God’s plans were accomplished. Or that He is disappointed. Many times, things of eternal significance don’t appear flashy or brag-worthy.
Deep down, what are we really concerned about? Looking good to ourselves and others? Or living in obedience and submission to God’s plans?
It’s frustrating when we want to be more and do things beyond what our current situation affords. Especially when the next steps are so clear and tangible, but God has not yet released to move forward. The door is right there, but it isn’t open. Yet.
What is really behind our frustration? The desire to live up to a standard of perceived worthiness? Who makes us worthy? Our results? Or His grace? Who are we trying to prove our worth to? God? …or ourselves….
While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Even at our worst, in our unredeemed state, He counted us worth the sacrifice of His life. It is impossible to work hard enough or fast enough to out-do that undeserved grace to become “more worthy.” He extends grace to all our weak places. We may feel limited by health issues, financial situation, lack of “talent,” voice, or reach. Certainly, his grace is sufficient for those things. And when we embrace that grace, we experience Him in a whole new way.
What does it mean to you to live a grace-led life as opposed to accomplishment-led?
What do you see as your greatest barrier to resting in God’s grace?
How do you balance the pressures of every day life while also being led by His grace?
One commenter will be randomly selected to receive a piece of artwork of their choice featured in today’s blog. Comment! Say hi :).
Congrats, Leann. Your name was drawn for the free watercolor!