Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Helper

I must admit I’ve struggled up to this very day with the desire to be perfect. Yet I fall short every time.

I have become defensive when I’m told I need to do something I know needs to be done. Or I can be self-condemning if I don’t complete a project on time or just right. If things don’t turn out the way I expected or wanted, I keep on with it until I can complete it right. If for some reason it did not reach the level of success I wanted, then I could easily lose self-esteem and confidence.

Perhaps this tendency developed when I was a child. I wanted to please my parents, especially my dad. I wanted to be accepted and loved by him. When I brought home a report card with an “A”, he’d ask me is that the best you could do? If it was a 91, then you can get a 95. Try harder. I was always told to try harder no matter how I did. If it was something I knew I could not be good at, there was not any reason for trying.

I’ve struggled with this for many years and this past week it has come to my attention as I identified the problem by the grace of God through His word. Oh how marvelous is the Word of God! His word is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. (2 Tim. 3:16) I needed it! The Lord knows what we need.

Through bloggy friends, Marina, Jerri [whom I just met through Marina], the chronological reading with Bev, Bible Gateway and my local women’s Bible study, the Lord showed me that HE will help me. He knows my difficulties and my fears. Here’s the scripture the Lord gave to me five times this week. Five different times between Tuesday and Saturday this scripture showed up for me:

Isaiah 41:10 AMP

Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you [Shonda]; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden [Shonda] to difficulties, yes, I will help [Shonda]; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.

Were my actions of self-condemnation based in fear? I thought I loved and trusted my Lord. Why am I afraid? I could not control the circumstances nor the outcome of circumstances. I cant change things and make them the way I want them to be. I just cant do it. So I’m afraid. But I don’t have to fear, I can trust in my God to hold me in HIS hand. God is so much greater than my self-condemning heart and HE knows everything!

1 John 3:20 AMP

Whenever our hearts in [tormenting] self-accusation make us feel guilty and condemn us. [For]we are in God's hands.] For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him].

Well I had been accustomed throughout my life to hearing voices telling me I can do better. If I messed up, then I learned to listen to the critical voices. So now that no one is actually telling me those things, I told myself condemning words. I condemned myself for falling short of perfection. As I criticized myself, I felt depressed & heavy.

Proverbs 18:21 AMP

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life].

No wonder I felt heavy and depressed in spirit—I was eating the fruit of my tongue. Where did these thoughts and words come from? The evil one who is the accuser. (Rev. 12:10) What are we to do when those thoughts come to us?

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 HCSB

For although we are walking in the flesh, we do not wage war in a fleshly way, since the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge) of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

We can war in our own ways, our flesh and blood. But only in power through the Word of God can we demolish the thoughts that come up against the knowledge of God. His Word will not return void but will accomplish what it is sent to accomplish. (Is. 55:11)

By God’s grace I realized the battle is in the spirit and only by HIS word will I have victory in my life. I purchased index cards and pulled out the Sword (a.k.a. Word of God). I started writing scriptures that speak life to my life. I put these cards in my purse. I read them out loud.

I am more than a conqueror through HIM who loves me. (Romans 8:37) God did not give me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7) I can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6) I have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

The Lord helped me by guiding me to HIS word which is life through Jesus Christ. I am being held and retained by the Lord’s right hand. He teaches me. His grace forgave me. There is no way I can ever be perfect, but I can know that I am accepted and loved by the One who gave up HIS very own life so I can have life and have it abundantly—Jesus Christ!! (John 10:10)

The Lord is our Helper!

Engrafted by His Grace—

Romans 11:17

Note: I thank God for HIS love for me. The Lord used blogging friends to reach me. I thank you friends! Believers are in a spiritual battle and we need to know how to fight the evil one by the power of the blood of Jesus and the Word of God. To read more on this, please visit Jerri Phillips.

15 gracious comments:

jennyhope said...

This was so rich for me and I have struggled with what you said since I was a little girl. I could have penned the same thing. Thank you so much and for the word. I need Him and His words to be so deeply abiding in me. Thank you for pouring this out to minister to me. He is so gracious!

Bev Brandon said...

My story is so much of the same. And my God is so committed to me in my valleys and mountains and to making me "let go" of those idols I hold in my hand like the perfection idol so that I can take His Hand and He can make something of this mess within. He has. He does. He will. Thanks Shonda!

Denise said...

Thank you for commenting on my devotion at laced with grace. May you be sweetly blessed.

Starla said...

Great post!!! Don't worry about being perfect, because no one is perfect. And I know I fall short all the time. But God still loves me.

You quoted 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, my preacher has been preaching this for a couple of weeks.

Please pray for me, I have been trying to quit saying words like stupid and dumb. I'm having a hard time doing it. My pastor's wife told me sometimes it is hard to kick a habit. And negative words are a bad habit I want to kick.

Nicole said...

Shonda,

I too have had perfection tendencies. Thank you for your post and the scriptures you used. I added you to "My favorite sites" on my blog. I believe you have a lot of wisdom to offer me and others. I feel like I should of asked you before I did this. I can easily remove you if this is not okay...which I would understand.

Blessings,
Nicole

Marina said...

Shonda these was a very beauitful post!!! I think everyone struggles with these thank you for your words.and Please go by My blog and pick up your birthday cake !
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND MANY MORE!!!!!
love,marina

lisasmith said...

Shonda,

I came here to wish you Happy Birthday (from Marina's link) and I am the one leaving with a gift. A constant thread throughout my blog these last few months has been my struggle with perfection. I love discovering new layers of grace!

May you experience His great love and new shades of grace today! Happy Birthday!!!

PJ said...

Blessings!! And Happy birthday! Here from Marina's blog! Great post!

Becoming Me said...

So wonderful were your words, Shonda. I have lived with similar bondage for so long and am just now tasting freedom...oh how sweet it is!

Alene said...

Happy birthday girl! I can't wait to meet you in October. Thanks for the blessing of today's post. Perfection is so draining, yet so many of us strive daily to be just that. I'm right there with you! I hope you have had a wonderful day. Thank you for your sweet prayer for protection for the approaching storm. Love ya sista!

annie's eyes said...

This also struck a chord with me - doing your best- of course you could always do better...true perfection is meant for but One. And He is perfectly happy with us just as we are, but loves us enough not to leave us there. Letting go of our own perceptions is a daily struggle. Here comes the rain from Dolly! Better power the computer down. Love, Annette

Jerri Phillips said...

Shonda,

This is excellent. I love how God uses us to spur one another on to glorify Himself. Thank you for sharing about your own struggles and how you have been set free so others can follow your footsteps.

Blessings and joyful, exuberant freedom be yours!

littlerad said...

this post spoke to me in so many ways, I have never fetl like I was good enough, and through Gods word I have found that I am... You are in my prayers, and Happy Birthday...
Connie
GBU

Anna said...

Perfectionism is such a trap! It holds us back from achieving our potential because we won't try anything new. For the last year, I have been learning Tae Kwon Do with my children. As I have progressed in my training, I've had to let go of "doing it right" and just do it! Often I do it incorrectly at first. I don't look like the black belt instructors or even the green belt students in my class (they are all younger than me!) But my instructors continue to encourage me because they know that to laugh at my imperfect attempts at new techniques will stop me from trying. It is our tendency to avoid doing something we are not good at. But just as my instructors look at my initial tries and encourage me, our Heavenly Father encourages us to keep trying. Because He knows if we persist, we'll get it sooner or later. (and the more we practice, the sooner we get it!) I love Philippians because Paul did the same thing. "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." Keep pressing on. We are His and we must keep on, not letting our desire for perfectionism hold us back from the One Who gave it all and called us to a higher calling.

Joyfulsister said...

I think alot us can relate to this post, I know I could, I remember that part of my life, the perfectionist part, the need to be in control, I had to do everything so so.
But I thank the Lord that I was able to give over that part of my life, it was not easy by any means, but there came a time when I faced with a situation I had no control over and that was my breaking point to change, to surrender, to give control back to the Lord, it's rightful owner. I know you will be able too release all that you are going through, but in the meantime don't be hard on yourself. It isn't an overnight thing, but a day to day release to the Lord. God bless Lorie