We love Jesus… so why are we still dealing with these issues? In this series, we address how the gospel frees us from the shame associated with our daily sins and struggles, and then helps us overcome them.
By Nichole Baird
I’ve realized it all comes down to discontentment, with a little pride and idolization thrown in for good measure. This funk that I’ve been in lately is not discontentment with the things you might think – like relationships or material possessions or my job or any of that, but with myself.
I’ve been stuck in a vicious cycle of wondering when I’m finally going to have it all together. Why does it seem I’m so incapable of staying on top of my devotional life, the finances, fitness, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, eating healthy, keeping the house clean, or even just remembering to take my vitamins, for Pete’s sake? Believe me, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There’s much more I can throw at me. I wonder when I am finally going to arrive at that state of perfection and have it all together Surely there must be something wrong with me. You probably already know the end to this story – I’m not going to get there. I know it, too. So why is it such a hard pill for me to swallow (even harder than my vitamins)?
As a believer, my first action should be to turn to the Lord to find the answers to this barrage of thoughts, but that’s not always the case. Too often, I get distracted by those Instagram people who have it all together or the latest self-improvement craze that is screaming at me from the bookshelves and social media. What answers do they have to offer me when I’m in this lowly state? “More self-care and self-love! More balance! Make more lists and follow these steps! Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and become a self-made woman!”
All this does is add to my feelings of being overwhelmed and make me even more aware that the only thing I’ve self-made of myself is a mess. Anything good in me is the work of the Lord and I forget that so fast and start looking back to myself to save me. It’s not that I’m opposed to caring for the temple my soul dwells in. We should recognize the limitations of our humanity and that our bodies need care and rest. God Himself set the example for that with the Sabbath, after all. But it should be for the sole purpose of God’s glory. What vanity it is to be at the top of our game for anything else but that.
And that’s about the point I see the pride of it all. What if I were able to master all these things? Would I still see my need for the Lord in my life? Or would I fall into the trap of believing that I can do it all on my own? Whether I like it or not, the pride of life would rear its ugly head.
Instead of drowning in our insufficiencies, we need to allow ourselves to be covered with His grace and be content in that broken state. Jesus doesn’t call us to have it all together…He knows we can’t. In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul writes, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Attempting to reduce stress with bubble baths and Netflix binges doesn’t make problems go away, but just diverts our attention from them for a short time. The load of tasks is still there when the bathwater goes cold and the series is over. But, when we get the focus off of ourselves and back on Him where it should be, then we’ll find true rest and refreshment. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
The truth is, I’m not going to find true joy in a flawless life. At its core, that achievement is just another empty idol, detracting from Christ and the work He wants to do in me. “…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) I need to recognize my need and draw from His mercies, new every morning. And at the end of the day, I can celebrate the victories and thank Him for what He did in me. That is the kind of attitude that will glorify the Lord and advance His kingdom.
I don’t need a 10-step program. I need Jesus.