I'm back. After another trimester of craziness and late nights and early mornings, of thinking there's no possible way of making it through tests and homework and presentations and somehow doing it anyway. Hitting rock bottom time and time again, crawling into bed exhausted and crying and having to do it all over again tomorrow. But I made it. Exams are over. My last round of finals before I pack off and head to who knows where to do who knows what. And it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was. I thought my social life would peter out and die, but there were always lunches with friends and small group and midweek youth group. There was always time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and when I did fall, there was always someone there to catch me, to set me back on my feet and remind me that I am still his beloved. It's funny. Before this trimester, I had never allowed myself to fail. I have always needed to make up for any bad grades I got, have an organized schedule for when I go where, so somehow, somewhere I'll make up for what I couldn't do. But now---I messed up this trimester. I made mistakes I've never let myself make before. I turned things in late, missed meetings, completely gave up on those leadership meetings for youth group...and this was all in the first two weeks of the trimester. But the world didn't end. I survived, and I'm realizing that my success doesn't define me. I still think it does. I still ask myself---if I fail at this conversation, this test, this homework assignment, who will I be? And it's never a good situation to be in, but sometimes it drives me to do well, and other times it makes me despair of everything I've ever tried to do. On Wednesday at youth group (when I was SUPPOSED to be studying for finals!) we talked about grace. At the end of the night, we were each given a note card with a string attached. The note card represented God's grace, and the string was whatever 'price tag' we put on ourselves in order to earn God. When we were ready, we were told to get up, tear the string off, and throw it away. I knew instantly what my 'string' was---this drive to do everything right, to never do anything to let my God, myself or my people down. I want to be right, to right, think right, and set the world right, which is exhausting. And impossible. But sometimes I think that's the only way I can be loved by God, which sounds awful when I say it out loud. I have these impossible expectations for myself, and I keep thinking that that's a good thing, the only way I can...not fail. Sometimes that's what keeps me going, but it's also what makes me believe those lies I've been fighting off ever since I can remember. Those expectations are what drive me deeper into myself, away from the Savior and the family and friends who can tell me that I'm wrong. That grace is Jesus giving me what I can't give myself---confidence in Him, peace, a secure, unchanging identity of the one He loves. That no matter what I do or don't do, think or don't think, say or don't say, I am loved by the one who gave himself up for us. I'm learning that I have to chant this truth to myself, the words that I've heard so many times from others, and apply them to myself. That's where rest and confidence comes from--the knowledge that I am His, and that He does his best work through people who are realizing that they can't save themselves.
Joining in FMF at http://lisajobaker.com/
C'mon over and check it out :)