Our One Word for 2013 was “Be Still“. It makes me smile to think back to our anything-but-still year. God brought our long-awaited #4 to us the week before we moved back up north and Hubby started a new job. 2013 has been marked by life-change and busyness. I like to have lots of white space in my schedule; margin and room to breathe, thinking-space. But, this year, has been busy (somewhat self-induced, somewhat out of our control).
Psalm 46:10 was the verse we chose for our family theme, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among that nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Another version, says cease striving, in place of be still.
After a quick word study of be still the following definitions came up: to sink down, relax, idle, let drop, to refrain, let alone, to be quiet, to show oneself slack, to let go.
To let go.
What I see here, as I reflect back on 2013 and the circumstances surrounding it, is my need to let go. To open the tightly clenched grasp of control and rest in the fact that HE. IS. GOD. And I don’t have to be- I can’t, I shouldn’t, I’m not.
I bought The Birth Order Book by Dr. Kevin Leman, at a garage sale this summer. I had heard a lot about this best-selling book (written in 1985), and I was glad to finally be reading it. I figured I would learn a little bit more about myself and my first-born ways. But, I had no idea what a big gift of revelation this 50 cent treasure would turn out to be.
God revealed something big to me through the pages of this book, and I am still processing it. It was found in the term Leman calls, “The Discouraged Perfectionist.” He defines the discouraged perfectionists as “very structured people who hold very high expectations for themselves and others.” I found a good article on the subject of perfectionism (you can read it here). When I read it, I sadly could relate to it on almost every point.
Before I read The Birth Order Book, I was pretty sure I was a perfectionist. After reading it, I was convinced. Instead of being depressed or frustrated by it, I felt encouraged. First of all, someone out there understood my inner struggles. I started to understand why I do the things I do.
Dr. Kevin Leman provided some great tips for overcoming this unhealthy way of living. He says, on pgs. 76-77, “To control your perfectionism, you must recognize your desperate need to be perfect. Not only that, you must recognize the fallacy and futility in this kind of thinking. You are never going to be perfect. Why not give yourself permission to be imperfect?” Even reading this makes my cringe, from a perfectionist’s mindset. Purposely be imperfect? Ah, the craziness of that.
But, I am imperfect. That is a fact.
I don’t like to be imperfect.
I often expect myself and others to be perfect.
To do things just the way I want them to.
I constantly want to perform in such a way that others can’t say anything bad about me. So they won’t criticize or reject me.
So I will feel like enough and please others, I strive- I do just about anything but be still and be at rest. Because if I stop doing, will I be rejected? Will I be viewed as worthless, if I don’t produce and perform? Will I be loved, if I am just my selfish, idle self; If I am just me?
Here are some more insights Leman gives: “Don’t be so quick to put yourself down, and when others criticize to react. Perfectionists are sensitive. Perfectionists often overwhelm themselves with the BIG PICTURE. They take on too much at once. Perfectionists aren’t known for being forgiving. (They often) view God as judge, policeman, or at best a referee who is trying to keep the game honest…they often have difficulty with the concept of God’s grace and forgiveness” (excerpts from pg. 76-81).
So here lies why I struggle with being still and letting God be God.
At this Christmas season I am reminded afresh that I am not perfect, and will never be perfect this side of heaven. So why do I try so hard?
I strive, I work, when really He is calling me to rest. To relax. To let drop (all these expectation of myself and others). To show oneself slack (not to compromise but to hold on to the promise that through Christ I am enough; even in all my weaknesses and faults). To sink down. To humble, to let Him increase and I decrease (not disappear, but to hide under the shadow and sufficiency of His ability to run things). To let go.
To trust that He knows what He is doing.
Even when I don’t like it or understand it. To trust.
Because in the midst of scandal, and loss, and darkness…through the hard journey, He was orchestrating the greatest miracle of all.
Jesus. God in human form. Perfect. Complete. Able to save us from our sins.
A way made to be perfected. Not through striving and driving, but through admitting we need Him. We need to be clothed with Him, our Redeemer, to be able to stand before God, our Maker. The Father sent His Son out of His deep, unconditional love for us all-
to make whole,
to make new,
In this season of buying, He steps in front of us in line, to buy us back. He pays full price to return us to Himself with the cost of His very Son.
He has made us. He understands us. He knows our limitations.
He sees the disease of sin we host- as we give preference and honor to her as He stands out in the wintery cold.
This season, I want to adore Him. To let go of the striving and prepare room for Him and the wonders of His love.
This love, that understands my drive to be perfect and provided a way for that to happen, apart from myself. Who offered the Perfect One to live, to suffer, and to give all on my behalf- on your behalf- that we can truly be still, at rest, in His arms; knowing that He is more than able to handle all of this life.
The very hands that formed you, want to inform you again, of the depth of His unending love; sent for You. When we accept Jesus, we are clothed in His perfection, and when God looks at us, He sees Him. It is finished. We have not arrived, but He arrived, just at the right time, to save us.
Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among that nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Merry Christmas! May we exalt the One who is capable of handling it all as He offers His hand to uphold us through this season and through all our stumbling. Be assured that as we let go, He never does.