Thursday, July 10, 2008

No Perfect People Here

I've heard Darin Hufford say many times that he had come to accept his humanness; he had come to accept that he was going to make mistakes. When I heard him say that, I knew I had just been given a major key to freedom.

I tend to be a perfectionist. I like things done right and, of course, that means being done my way. When things don't go as I had hoped, I can often feel my stress level rising. Unfortunately, as we journey through this life, we'll experience many disappointments. Sometimes, the biggest disappointment is in ourselves.

As I've grown older and looked in the mirror, I see a different person than I saw a number of years ago. I have to face the reality that I'll never see some of my dreams come to pass. It might just be the way things are or it might be due to poor decisions I've made in the past. It's a big disappointment to see dreams go unfulfilled but, when it's due to poor decisions on my part, the hurt and disappointment are greater as I'm face with the "what if's". Accepting that I'm far from perfect and that I've made and will continue to make mistakes, sometimes really dumb ones, has been difficult since I like to put up a good front to the world.

Rejection is an emotion that I struggle with and, of course in this world, there are many opportunities to experience rejection. Learning to live free of others' expectations is difficult. While it may seem like an "other focused" trait, in actuality, it's very "self-focused" as I worry about what others are thinking about me. It's all about me . . . me . . . me.

Accepting my humanness has been a major turning point for me. Admitting that I'm human and prone to make mistakes is setting me free from a performance based cycle that is impossible to maintain. No matter how careful I am, I'll still make mistakes. It's a given.

Yet, I'm learning to accept that and, at times, I can even laugh about the silly mistakes I make and then just go on without having to wade through a lot of guilt. If the mistake seems to be major, I'm learning to trust that Father will walk with me through the consequences. I can then choose to not let guilt and condemnation rob me of my peace.

We have a tendency to put high expectations on ourselves and to allow others to also do it. I believe that until we can allow ourselves freedom to make mistakes, we won't grow properly. Part of the growth process involves being willing to step out and explore new territories. Doing this, however, means that we'll often be faced with the unexpected. We won't always know what surprise is lurking around the corner. These unexpected situations may require quick decisions which could result in any number of mistakes . . . some with possibly serious consequences.

My tendency has been to hold back hesitant about moving into new territory, afraid that I might make a mistake and maybe look foolish. For most of my life, fear has been a major part of it. However, as I've journeyed forward into life as a free believer, I've noticed a major change taking place in me. No longer do I want to sit on the sidelines doing only what's safe.

I want to follow Jesus into the new adventure he has planned for each day. More than likely, at some point, it'll be a roller coaster ride with some twists and turns but I'm learning that he's holding on to me so despite my feelings of insecurity, I'm safe. I may make mistakes. Actually, there's no maybe; it's a definite. I will make mistakes but I know that Father will be right there enabling me to walk through the consequences and, in the process, my relationship with him will deepen. As a result, I'll experience a strengthening in our relationship that will hold me steady during the next storm.

Below are some links to related posts that you might find helpful.

Authentic Spirituality
Permission to be human
Following Jesus
Leaving a Place of Safety and Risking Failure

While writing the post, this song came to mind so I thought I'd add it here.


Tracy Simmons said...

Aida, sometimes you just freak me out with how you write about something I was thinking about that very same day! This is one such post.

I really enjoyed reading the book "Leading with a Limp" for many of the reasons you've talked about in this post. Allender writes about how even the "best" of leaders will always have a limp--and they best just embrace it and get on with what they're called to do. I love that! (I have a few quotes of of his on my blog if you want to check those out).

Thanks for your words today--just what I needed. :)

Aida said...

Wow, Tracy! That's neat! The funny thing is I started this post a couple of days ago but only had a chance to complete it today. Father's timing is always amazing!

While I was eating a late dinner, I read a few of your back posts quoting Dan Allender. The book sounds great! It sounds like something I might like to read.

Isn't amazing how we try to cover up the fact that we're not perfect? God is not honored by our pretense. He wants us to be honest about who we are so that he can work freely through us as well as in us.

BTW, I love how you read books and then give a review. It's impossible to read all of the books I want to read but your reviews help me to get some of the main points even when I don't have time to read them.

Mark said...

Another great post. Sometimes the person we find the hardest to accept is our self.

Aida said...

Thanks, Mark. I agree. I believe that's probably been my biggest hurdle.

amy said...

Aida, I second what Tracy said, these thoughts have been rumbling around in my head (and heart) too. Unfortunately that's one more problem that the IC puts on people, the fear of making mistakes. The atmosphere breeds insecurity, guilt and performance-based mentality. I still struggle with this insecurity, but am realizing that since it's no longer being regularly fed, perhaps it has a chance of dying out...

Matthew Daelon said...

I love this! It's exactly what I'm experiencing in learning to walk with God. Mistakes are absolutely necessary for growth. I don't mean here and there mistakes. I mean lots of them! We are suppose to be messy! We're called to be children! Children are messy! But it's how they learn!

May we all learn to be messy and free. Don't feel down if you think you didn't say things right, do things right, say things enough or do things enough. Just enjoy the walk and let our Father clean up the mess!

Katherine Gunn said...

Hmm... ;-)

“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” - Mahatma Gandhi

Joel B. said...

"God is not honored by our pretense."

For years, even under grace, I've "tried" to be humble in my conversations with God. I think a lot of it can be good... such as "not my will but yours" and "if it's your will," etc. I really don't want to be praying a bunch of stuff that's based upon the flesh. HOWEVER, I've come to realize that in doing that, I've really been WAY too careful that I'm doing it just right! Way too afraid to make mistakes while I'm praying. (All of this said, I'm not talking about my overall life with Daddy... but this type of wrong thinking creeps in from time to time).

This morning, as I shared in another comment, I was getting angry about the little box that religion had put me in, and I simply "repented" of living in that box and I simply spoke my heart to God and I told Him that I know it doesn't matter if I'm praying everything correctly, or praying for the right things.

I'm His child, and if He says "yes" then He says "yes" and if He says "no" then He says "no." Or if He doesn't answer, then He doesn't answer. In all my praying over the years I've come to see that He really doesn't need me to qualify all my thoughts, questions and requests! I can just be who I am... as imperfect as my soul is, and not try to be something I'm not, and He'll take good care of me no matter what!

Aida said...

Amy, I think this is something Father is teaching a lot of us. Being afraid of making mistakes is a really big hindrance and it keeps us from experiencing his life in us and through us.

Our Father is a "wild" God who holds back nothing. We're created in his image so we shouldn't either.

Matthew, I love what you shared here. You've really hit on the main point.

"May we all learn to be messy and free. Don't feel down if you think you didn't say things right, do things right, say things enough or do things enough. Just enjoy the walk and let our Father clean up the mess!"

Real freedom invloves being willing to make mistakes and trusting that Father has our backs covered and will clean up our messes.

Katherine, this is a wonderful quote and so true. The freedom to make mistakes is an integral part of freedom and without it, there is no real freedom.

All gret comments. Thanks for sharing.

Aida said...

Wow, Joel. I can really relate to what you're saying. I used to feel as if I had to say everything just perfectly. If I quoted a scripture, I worried that I might have missed a word. I would do the same thing as you, trying to qualify what I said, afraid I was saying it wrong.

As a result, I learned how to pray some great but phony prayers. People complimented me on how I prayed and theatrically it was good but relationally it stunk.

Learning to be who I am has been a major hurdle since the real me is hidden under many layers of pretense. Little by little, however, Father is gently removing the layers. It's painful at times but oh so freeing when another layer of phoniness is gone.

Bino Manjasseril said...

I think one of the key in accepting us with all our mistakes is to understand our total forgiveness and total acceptance in Christ. The reason we don't accept ourself with all our faults is that we don't truly believe that God accepts us with all our shortcomings and failures.

If I had to perform to be accepted by God, I will perform to be accepted by me. It's a very stressful thing because we will never be fully satisfied.

Settling in the total acceptance by God may take some time. In my case, I still struggle sometimes to put my faith in the total acceptance and forgiveness. But as we grow in grace, the struggle would lessen and I think it is so important that we establish our foundation upon grace by repeatedly hearing the truth. Like Joel always says, growing in the fertile soil of grace...

Aida said...

Good observation, Bino. I think I've finally learned that Father loves and accepts me just as I am and then something will happen and I start wondering how I can be a believer and act that way.

Fortunately, I no longer let myself go there for very long. Instead, I remind myself that it's okay to make mistakes and that Father loves and accepts me in spite of them. Then, I get up and start moving forward again.