I have a hard time holding myself to a standard of grace and not perfection. I came across wallpaper for my phone the other day that said the exact thing. “I hold myself to a standard of grace not perfection.” Yet, every time it flashes on my screen I think, “Do I really?”
How do we hold ourselves to a standard of grace? We expect a lot of ourselves. Many of us were told we weren’t enough. Just being sexually assaulted and used told us we weren’t enough because someone used us. Which means we aren’t good enough to be treasured. That’s what we think, even though it’s not true.
So many of us spend our lives trying to be enough. We add things into the conversation so we fit in. Spend too much time at our jobs trying to excel at something in life. We pour ourselves into earthly things that won’t last. I used to spend hours organizing my classroom when I was a teacher. What good did that do? It didn’t do anything once the children arrived and it was a mess again. It helps to have organization, but not hours spent on something that won’t last.
God has a standard of grace not perfection. He sees us through Jesus. What Jesus did for us on the cross. I don’t understand it. I try to comprehend Jesus died for me, but I admit many days it doesn’t make sense. We don’t deserve it, which is what makes the sacrifice God made in sending Jesus and what Jesus did that much more incredible.
Yet, the legalistic tendencies I was taught in my family and church growing up send me to a checklist of things I must do to earn God’s love and grace. Every day I feel I’m not doing enough. I cannot even relax because I think, I shouldn’t be watching TV, I should read my Bible all day, or listen to sermons, or pray all the time. Though I feel that wouldn’t be enough. So, honestly I don’t do it at all.
When I was 17 ½ one night at summer camp I wrestled with God about surrendering my life. Satan fought for me too. It was a battle I won’t ever forget. The night was probably the longest night of my life. Was I going to surrender to God and let him have my life no matter what anyone thought about me? People thought I was already a Christian. What would they say when I said I was forced to be baptized when I was young and no one taught me how to receive Christ?
By the time I knew I was too embarrassed to tell anyone. Did I want to face God and say, “Sorry God, I was too embarrassed to tell people what really happened and that’s why I didn’t want to truly come to know you?” I had to decide it wasn’t this life that matters, but eternity. That morning after deciding to follow God, in June 1994, was the lightest I’ve felt in my entire life.
It had nothing to do with whether I was good enough for God. I had been living a lie. God knew that. He knew me better than anyone. Yet, He saw me through the eyes of Jesus and welcomed me as His child. That’s how God sees us. With eyes of grace not perfection.
How do we see ourselves as God sees us when we’ve been treated like we have been? When our lives have been full of the expectation of perfectionism? When we never feel good enough?
I don’t have the answer for you. I only know we will never be able to be good enough in this life no matter what we do. Everyone is broken. We just tend to know it better than most because of the trauma in our lives. We can pray for God to show us His grace and to provide people to show us His grace as well. It will take time. Just like our recovery. It’s a process.
There won’t be a right or wrong way to get to it. Grace is just grace. Grace is the free and unmerited favor of God so when we find ourselves putting a price, expectation, or check-list on what we “should” be doing it is no longer grace. There is no “should” in God’s eyes. Only a desire to know us better.
My prayer is one day we will all be able to understand grace and hold ourselves to it and not perfection. Even if it’s not until we meet God face to face.
I do not understand Your grace. I hold myself to perfection and have high expectations, especially when seeking You. Please help me remove my expectations and find freedom in living for eternity instead of for the things of this earth. Continue to guide me in recovery and bring healing into my life.
© 2019 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved