This morning I collapsed at the feet of my Savior overcome with the emotion of spiritual exhaustion. I cried out to Him “God, I am just so tired of trying.” As the tears flowed, He revealed something to my aching and weary heart. “Sweet daughter, you do not have to earn my approval” He whispered.
As I prayed, I realized that I have been operating out of a place of needed perfection. This perfection was something that made me worthy to be in His presence and receive His love. Here was this part of my faulty foundation that made it nearly impossible to stand. For years I have been clinging to a lie:
I have to be a perfected version of myself to approach the throne of the very God who created me.
This deep seeded need to be perfect drove me to a place of constant condemnation and exhaustion. I found myself daily feeling guilt and shame for failing at something. My self talk was constantly cycling through all the ways that I could just do it better next time. Often as I would confess things to the Lord, I would repent and then in my heart make an agreement not to do it again. As soon as the offense happened again the shame would pour out and frustration would creep in. My soul cried, how will I ever be good enough for my King?
I am realizing that this lie puts a great amount of responsibility on myself to earn love, grace, mercy and approval. This lie shifts salvation from something that is a gift from the Father, to something that I have to deserve and create with my own hands. It’s no wonder I am exhausted. I do not have the power to save myself.
The fruit of this lie has been striving. I have been striving for perfection in every area of my life. Perfection in school, relationship, hobbies, approval of others and church. Every area of my life had to be perfect and I had to know the right answer. Failure is something that I have been so afraid of for years. At times it has rendered me so completely ineffective that I give up before trying, because I would rather chose to fail, then try and be told that I am not good enough.
As I peel back the layers of my striving for perfection, the real thing I was fighting for was love. I believe that all love is conditional to some degree. This distorted understanding of love told me that I had to perform at a certain level and offer something to another person in order to receive love. When I did not perform well, the love would leave.
This mentality is a very self-centered and self-worshiping place. In this position of pride, I place a false sense of control and power into my own hands. When I believe that I have the power to win or lose the approval of God, I am saying that I have more control in the relationship. Thankfully, I do not have this type of power in the relationship with God. Romans 5: 6-8 says:
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
This very principle is something that my heart disagreed with. In my pride, I told myself that I had the power and control to earn God’s love or cause Him to turn from me. But God tells us that Christ died for us when we were powerless, while we were still sinners He hung on a cross to reconcile us back to the Father. Thankfully, He is working in my heart to show me that I cannot change His mind. This morning He whispered these words to my heart:
“I won’t reject you or cast you away. You are precious to me, fearfully and wonderfully made. I hold you in my arms like a newborn baby, admiring my creation. I clothe you and care for all your needs. Just as you would not expect a newborn to care for itself and come to you only when it was feed, clothed and changed, I do not expect you to do that for yourself.”