There are two quirks in my personality that cause me the most grief. They have the combined effect of turning me into a complete mess.
- I’m terrified of feeling overwhelmed.
- I always bite off more than I can chew.
I try. Really, I do. But invariably I get in over my head so that, naturally, I’m overwhelmed. And, oh yeah, since I’m a perfectionist, even if I’m not having to tread water to stay on top of the work load, I find ways to ruin even manageable responsibilities. So…make that three quirks that cause me grief.
That’s why I quit teaching school full-time. And then, because a perfectionist can drown teaching even just part-time, I quit teaching altogether.
“She’s Super Mom!” Eden said to her daddy the other day. And he agreed. Gosh, I love them. These sweet compliments were traded between bites of a meal which I did not prepare. With the addition of my new full-time teaching job, our lives are so crazy that finding a few minutes to buy groceries is a tremendous feat of organization, patience and energy. I have not these gifts. Not having wholesome, healthy meals prepared for my family is fodder for my beat-yourself-up-mercilessly gene. It sure is sweet that my family is not as hard on me as I am on myself.
Like so many summers before, school started even though I wasn’t ready. Honestly, I’ve tried to cut myself a break because it wasn’t entirely my fault that I wasn’t ready. I spent most of the in-service week before school started without a computer. We started a ladies bible study the week I went back to work. (It was awesome.) We had our very first church plant worship service the night before school started. (God is awesome.) The weekend before I actually had students in the chairs, I managed to go for a long run, write lesson plans, put my classroom together, and buy some new clothes so that I wouldn’t disgrace myself wearing the rags in my closet. I continued to not beat myself up as I got up at 3 A.M. on the morning of the second day to get my lesson ready. OK, I was a little irked with myself, but I did have a good week.
Still, I am too busy, and I’m overwhelmed. I sure don’t feel super.
And then God gave me this…
I ran 17 miles today. Don’t ask me how I harangued myself for settling on 17 instead of 18! (I may have had an epiphany this morning, but I’m still a work in progress.) Lately, I’ve been circling downtown Benton for my long run because it’s about the only place around here that somewhat flat. At various street corners downtown, markers have been placed in the concrete stamped with famous quotes–ostensibly to inspire or maybe bring a smile to your face. Since my regular route is around downtown, I’m sure I’ve read all of them 100 times. Today, on about my 10th lap, I stomped over the following, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.—Abraham Lincoln.”
How nice. Honest Abe and all his wisdom. Makes me so proud to be an American. And even more proud to be a Christian since Jesus actually said it.
Yes, Abe made the speech “A House Divided.” Right. Got that. But when he borrowed the principle from Jesus, his audience most likely read enough of the bible to know who Abe was quoting–unlike the well-meaning person who stamped it in concrete at the corner of Main and South.
I chuckled about this for half a block. Then it occurred to me that I’d run over this little error again and again for the last year and never noticed. A falsehood—a half-truth—has been laid down and preserved. It’s meant for us to take it in—even subconsciously—as we pass over it and glean whatever wisdom it has to offer. But it’s not exactly true—and for a Christian, very often the source determines the validity.
I pass over falsehoods and half-truths repeatedly every day. Lies that say I have to be perfect. Whispers that claim my best doesn’t measure up. Stamped on the very core of my being is a little fib that says even a tiny slip-up is a crushing failure. I walk right over it. I stand on it. It is foundational to the way I view myself and everything that I do.
This morning, though, God made it pretty clear that those things are not true and He isn’t the source of it either. My life is plain ol’ normal—mom, wife, school teacher—nothing super hero-ish about it. There’s nothing spectacular about my background or my education. I do a few things well, and lots of stuff I don’t even attempt–just like anybody else. I’m pretty ordinary.
But I’ve answered an extraordinary call. God has put me in a lot of roles recently that I’ve hardly felt prepared to fill. I agonize over all the details, all the people who are depending on me, whether or not I can live up to the commitments I’ve made. Yet God sustains and strengthens. He loves and fills up and transforms. And for whatever reason, He blesses me to be a part of what He’s doing. I can offer up what I know is a complete mess to God and He makes it useful.
Someone’s life is going to be different because I was here…being a mess…
I’m not sure I can run that 26 miles. Today I confronted a very real fear that my body just isn’t up to it. And yet, I’ve made 63% of my fundraising goal. Someday soon, a cancer patient will have assistance paying their bills because I was a complete mess after my dad died and decided to do something good. If you have a few extra bucks, you can click on my fundraising page to make a donation and change lives with me! I need $1875 to reach my goal. Small donations are HUGE!
Every day I juggle all the myriad tasks that make up my teaching job. Want to know something really cool? I love those kids. I hardly knew them a week before I wanted to wrap my arms around the whole lot. God put me there to love and disciple those kids. I’ll do it. I’m an absolute mess, but I’ll do it. The lesson plans will be posted late, the copies won’t be printed out, I’ll be pulling my hair out because I just keep dropping the ball when people are depending on me, but someone’s life will change forever because I answered that extraordinary call.
And finally, the proverbial kicker…I am back to working full-time after I swore I wouldn’t. My husband can now answer God’s call to plant a church because my job provides for our financial needs. Lives will change. Mine already has. Thank you, God, for redeeming the mess.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10