Perfectionist: a disposition to feel that anything less than perfect is unacceptable.

This post is for me. It is a way for me to tell God that I am listening, and that I hear Him.

These past few months while working on the Love Uganda T-Shirts fundraiser, I have felt God trying to tell me something. What that "something" is has been hard for me to figure out. But I am just now seeing what it is that God has wanted me to learn through this whole process: I am loved just the way I am and I can be used by God just the way I am.

As Brennan Manning would say, "My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it."

More than ever, I have noticed this year that I am a perfectionist and a planner. I like to be in control of things. And I like to get everything done in the best and most efficient way possible. When a problem arises, I immediately want to fix it. These can be good things when I am successful at what I am doing, but I am learning that it can also be detrimental.

I know this tendency towards perfection comes from many different things. But I know a lot of this stems from a church I attended after accepting Jesus into my life my freshman year of high school. At this church, I got the impression that the more I read my Bible or the more scripture I memorized, the more Jesus would love me. The more "good works" I did, the more "holy" I would be. I learned to earn love. Instead of turning to God during hard times, I ran in the opposite direction. I never heard the words grace or unconditional love mentioned in church. I was never told that it is okay to mess up. At one point, I had missed a day of training for a mission trip, and I was told I would no longer be able to go on the trip. I remember sitting there crying to the pastor, asking him for his help, and begging him to let me go on the trip still because it was my one thing to look forward to. I was later allowed to go on the trip, but only after I went on stage in front of the congregation to tell them I had missed the meeting because of the difficulties going on in my life. And I had to tell each and every detail. Instead of embracing me with grace and unconditional love during this painful time... the pastor had given me an ultimatum and made me feel like I had to prove my worthiness to go on the trip still. I felt unworthy, embarrassed, and hurt. This experience engrained in my brain that I cannot be used by God unless I have earned it. Memorize the scripture, attend the meetings, and you will get to go on the mission trip.

Four years later, my freshman year in college, I learned to let go of my past and any pain or regrets within it. As the song How He Loves says, "I have no time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us." For the first time in my life, I got a real glimpse of God's unconditional and redeeming love. This was shown to me through close friends, through children in Africa, through professors, and through ministry. I realized for the first time in my life that I could be redeemed from my past and used by God to do amazing things in this world, despite my failures and weaknesses. I realized as it says in Romans 8:38-39, NOTHING could separate me from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Savior. I accepted God's love for me and I LET him use me. I didn't let my feelings of inadequacy halt God's plans for me. God kept placing this verse on my heart over and over again during my time in Africa... Jeremiah 29:11... "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a FUTURE." I needed to believe that God wanted to do that for me, and I had to LET God do that. And going to Africa was a huge first step towards that. 

This year, I have been so blessed with many different opportunities. I have two jobs that I love, I'm leading a tutoring ministry for inner city kids, I do the blog and some other things for the orphanage in Kenya I went to, I'm taking classes, and on top of all of that, I'm doing the Love Uganda T-Shirts fundraiser.

But, that is a LOT of things to do every week. And I'm realizing that I have put myself up on this pedestal. I expect myself to do all of these things perfectly. I expect myself to get all A's in my classes, even if that means studying for 60 hours over a weekend. I expect myself to get the blog out on time, every time, even if my week is overloaded with other things to do. And I expect myself to solve every little problem we face along the way of trying to raise the $4,000.00 for the beds.

For Lent this year, I was planning to spend time in prayer for Africa every day for an hour. But as I started to do so, I felt God tugging on my heart, telling me to stop. I questioned why God would want me to do that. But I felt God telling me to just rest and be still during this time of Lent. I felt God telling me that I am loved just as I am... that I won't be used even more on my trip this summer if I pray an extra 40 minutes every day. I felt God telling me that I really needed to focus on accepting His love during this time. I needed to try to completely let go of any part of me that was trying to earn His love. God had already decided to use me this summer, I didn't need to convince Him to.

And then it hit me today... even further, God has been trying to tell me that HE IS IN CONTROL. I cannot be perfect. I cannot get every little thing every single day done perfectly. It doesn't work that way. I have to give myself room for mistakes. And I have to give God room to move.

Just a few weeks ago, I hit breaking point. I was on my way to take our math midterm and lost it. I started bawling and couldn't get myself together. I was running on no sleep, had a blog post to do for IAA, needed to work on more things for the Love Uganda T-Shirts, had tutoring later that day, needed to study for more exams, I was sick, my sister was visiting and I had barely been able to spend time with her, and I needed to get an A on this exam.

couldn't get myself together and for the first time ever, I circled random things in on the exam and left. I was certain that I would have to drop the class after that test... it was 25% of my grade. I emailed my professor and explained to him what was going on in my life and asked if there was any way I could make up for this test.

And then... he did something that I am just now recognizing was something that God wanted to teach me through. My professor extended GRACE towards me. He told me I could replace the exam score with the score I get on my final exam.

And today, I am realizing that God wanted me to recognize that I can't do everything perfectly. There has been so many days this semester where I curled up in bed and just cried, wondering how I am going to raise the $4,000.00 for the beds. As of last week, we had only raised $900.00. And we leave in a month. I felt like I had been doing so much, but our goal was still so far away.

But then, this weekend, God did something BIG. He made me realize that I keep asking myself... "How am I going to raise the money?"

That's where my problem is. I expect myself to always do everything. I keep telling myself, God will provide, but I have to do all of the hard work. I have to contact every person I know, work on the spreadsheets, keep track of the money, make orders for more shipments, make more fliers, update the Facebook page... the list goes on and on and on. 

And it hit me tonight at our student ministry meeting. I am a perfectionist and a planner. And it is not okay. I need to let God do what God is meant to do. I need to let God have complete control of this fundraiser. He called me to do it, so He will make it happen. It is not me doing any of this, it is God working in and through me. Yes, I am working hard, but in the end, it is God who is making all of this possible.

No matter how hard I work, even to the point of breakdown, I cannot do this on my own. If i stay up one hour later until 6am to send one more email asking for someone to donate to this cause, it does not mean that God will now decide to provide the funds for the beds.

No. I need to stop.

I need to let go, and let be. I need to let God love me and use me JUST AS I AM. I need to give God room to provide in HIS way.

And God literally SHOUTED this at me this weekend when Amanda called me on Saturday morning to tell me that a newspaper in her hometown wrote an article on our fundraiser, and it made front page. Her email had blown up with messages of people wanting to order shirts. Now, we were sold out of shirts. And a church had told her they had been praying for a cause to donate to, and they believed we were that answer from God. They wrote us a check for $400.00. Amanda was coming home with $1,400.00 from ONE WEEKEND. And on top of that, she had a huge list of more people who wanted to order shirts. My only response to this news was to cry. And cry. 

God has continued to open more doors this week, such as another $400.00 coming in through a school event, two more newspaper articles lined up, more shirt orders, and the list goes on.

I am realizing there is nothing I can do to make God love me more. And I am realizing that I cannot change the world on my own. Instead, I am learning to let God work through me in order to do things that couldn't be done otherwise. I am finally TRULY grasping that I need to let go of my plans and my ways, and to let God be CREATIVE. To let GOD provide and make things happen in a much more beautiful way than I could ever imagine. I am realizing that when God calls me to something, it is for a reason. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 says..."May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. THE ONE WHO CALLS YOU IS FAITHFUL, AND HE WILL DO IT." In the Message, it says, "....THE ONE WHO  CALLED YOU IS COMPLETELY DEPENDABLE. IF HE SAID IT, HE'LL DO IT!"

I know that God chooses to use the weak, the broken, and the common. I DO NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT TO BE USED BY GOD FOR SOMETHING GOOD. 

And so this my declaration to God: use me Lord, use me. 

I leave for Africa on May 23rd and I believe that God is going to provide the last $1300.00 needed for the beds. I don't know how it's going to happen. And I'm going to stop asking myself what I can do to make that happen. "The one who called me is faithful, and He will do it."
 


Comments

LuCille Peveler

Tue, 12 Apr 2011 21:57:19

Kristin, this is a beautiful statement of how God works in each of us individually as He sees fit. It is such a gift that you are seeing the truth at your age instead of seeing it in your 30's! Just think how many years you will NOT have wasted because you are willing to be molded and shaped and, hold the bus a minute,....even changed! We miss you here!

 



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