This week’s Wednesday’s What Not is about letting go and stepping into freedom from expectations, even when they are our own.
I’m wondering how many other self-made, slave-driving perfectionists are out there reading this post. If this is not an area you struggle with, please pray for me and others like me who wrestle with this issue.
Maybe you are like me. I expect a lot of myself. When I find I don’t meet my standard, I have a tendency to knock myself down a notch or two. That way, I have the opportunity to tell myself “I’m bad” before anyone else has the chance to do so. Internally, I’ve been known to say things like:
- “I can’t believe you didn’t do such and such. How (insert derogatory comment here) can you be?”
- “You’re such a slacker. Why can’t you just get things done?” (As I’m working into overtime.)
- “It was pretty good, except for (fill in the blank).”
Why is it we say things to ourselves we would never say to others? Why is it we place demands upon ourselves we would never ask someone else to uphold?
I’d say the above self-talk signifies the good girl syndrome gone very, very bad. We desire to do good – even what God wants. Yet, in setting an impossible standard, we drop the ball on the court as we commit foul after foul. Really all God wants is for us to take the shot from the free throw line. I think He’d love to give us “nothing but net”, but we have to take the shot and the chance that we’ll miss a time or two.
I feel like I have grown in this area, but I certainly have not yet overcome these struggles.
Recently, I was at a women’s conference with a friend. We were talking about how when we see progress in an area we have struggled with, the progress encourages us to keep going. The progress doesn’t have to be monumental for us to be encouraged.
Say we take a shot and it hits the backboard of the basket ball hoop. We came close. We almost made it. If we make a slight adjustment, the next time we take a shot it may go in. Maybe we can grow to the point where we get a slam dunk. Maybe we grow to the place where we can take a risk and shoot for a three-point shot instead of playing it safe all the time. Maybe we pass the ball to our teammate, because they have a better shot. The point is: we’re playing the game.
Right now, God has me playing the game by writing. The fact that I show up and I do it is me taking the shot. I have no idea where this game leads, but I want to play. God has called me to suit up and show up and shoot for that three point shot from time-to-time.
Because I do feel like this is where God is calling me, I take the responsibility seriously. HOWEVER, I feel like God also might want me to not let this be all-consuming and He’s not requiring perfect. I already know the writing portion will be my best, but certainly not perfect. People can’t relate to perfect anyhow.
What I hadn’t yet relinquished was the schedule of my writing. I felt like God put in place the structure of three days (He does like three’s after all). I still feel like that is God’s design and plan. However, He is not a rigid, slave-driving God.
Internally, I was telling myself …
“When people subscribe to a Sunday paper, they expect (there’s that word again) to get the newspaper on Sunday. If people subscribe to my blog, they expect to get emails on Monday, Wednesday, & Friday without exception.”
Honestly, most people probably don’t even realize the schedule. It’s my schedule, so I know it. Most of you would probably extend grace to me for missing a day of writing. I feel like that’s where I am at with myself (progress!).
I know many of you can probably relate: this feels like a very busy season in life for a bunch of reasons that really don’t matter all that much other than to say – it’s busy.
This past Saturday I felt like God was saying to let go of Monday’s writing. I felt like He didn’t want me to worry about it. I was supposed to “let it go”. This would be my first writing publication date I missed since the inception of my blog. To knowingly determine ahead of time that I was going to “drop the ball” was a little odd for me, but I was listening to The Coach.
The Coach sat me on the bench. He told me to take a break. I had been out of town a couple weekends in a row, long weekends. Instead of running, running, running down the court, God wanted me to spend time with my husband and to get some rest so I have energy to play the game well.
Intentional imperfection. Now there’s something I would have never thought I could do. I’ve been imperfect before – just not on purpose. Do I think God wants us to do haphazard, shoddy work? No. Do I think God wants us to extend grace to ourselves, being kind to ourselves when we don’t always get it right? You bet!
We will stumble. We will make mistakes. And every once in awhile we’ll here “woosh” as we take a 3-point shot and the ball grabs nothing but net as the crowd of angels cheers on our behalf.
Questions / Actions
What expectations do you place upon yourself?
How do those expectations impact your decisions each day?
How might those expectations limit what you can do to reach your fullest potential?
What do you think God expects from you?
How is God calling you to take a shot?
If you speak negative “self-talk”, write three things you like about yourself. Place those thoughts somewhere you can readily see them as reminders of your good qualities.