It’s been awhile since we’ve been to church.
Not because we don’t want to go, but because we’ve been traveling, or sick, or downright exhausted.
It’s nice to be back. Brandon and I sneak away to a quiet room for part of it to simply sit and enjoy the quiet and to have some alone time with God.
There’s such a lack of quiet in our lives with three young kids, and it’s so much easier to pray and to feel connected to God when I’m able to take some time in the quiet with him.
Life has been especially crazy lately, and it’s good to take some time to worship God, to draw me back to what’s important, and to remember who it is that’s really in control.
Loud and off key
The best part of this morning though was singing during the worship time in church.
My middle daughter, who is almost 5, asked me to carry her for the songs. She’s getting pretty big and it’s not easy for me to do so, but I like to do that still from time to time. I know I won’t be able to do it much longer.
It brought tears to my eyes to hear her singing. At first she just listened, but then I told her she could sing too, and she started to belt out the tunes.
She didn’t really know the words to most of them, and she was still kind of learning the melodies, but she sang loud and proud and with a smile on her face.
There were no worries about performing and living up to some expectation she may have put on herself.
Just the joy of singing to God.
It was beautiful and free.
I expect too much
I’m realizing as I type this even that I’ve put so many expectations on myself that are hard to live up to.
Some of the many expectations I put on myself include:
- Being a great wife
- Being a great mother
- Being our main financial provider
- Being a wildly successful blogger
- Running a successful wedding photography business
- Giving my kids the best education through homeschooling
- Being a “good Christian” (whatever that means since it’s not about doing)
- Being someone who others can come to for help
- Being an amazing cook
- Keeping a clean house
- Being an organized & responsible adult
- Raising kids that other people marvel at
As I think about this list and type it out, I realize that none of these things are wrong to want.
But I hold myself up to them, and it’s tiring me out.
It stresses me out when I don’t live up to them.
For example, my house is a mess. Pretty much always. So I feel like I’ve failed in that expectation I’ve put up for myself and I feel shame when people visit.
That’s just one place where I don’t live up to the expectations I set for myself.
Listing them out is helpful because it makes me realize how ridiculous it is to try and be all these things at once.
It simply is unrealistic to think that I can do everything, be everything, and yet if I’m honest with myself, I still believe that if I just “try harder” or “work harder” that I could achieve it somehow.
Yet I fail, every day. I never measure up to what I think I should be. I get down on myself, work longer, try harder, and become more stressed and cranky because I just can’t do it on my own.
Longing for freedom, longing for Grace
We were never meant to put all these unrealistic expectations on ourselves as a way of judging our worth.
What matters is not how we are perceived nor how well we live up to the many expectations we put on ourselves, but rather what matters is coming to God, giving these things to him, and allowing him to fill us with his love and grace and lead us to the place where we are free.
The things I want of myself aren’t bad in and of themselves.
However, judging myself based upon how well I achieve them is completely against what we are called to do as believers.
We can never live up to the expectations we put on ourselves or to the expectations that other people put on us. We were never intended to.
Instead, we are to go to Jesus, accept his Grace, and know that as long as I’m following him and living in his Grace and Love that I’m in the right place.
My worth comes from God and God alone, not from these false benchmarks of success that I put upon myself.
I deeply long to shed these burdens that I carry and be truly free.
I want to sing like my daughter, without worrying about what anyone thinks, without having to know all the words or all the melodies before belting it out loud with abandon.
I want my life to be a joyful noise to the Lord. I want to be free of these chains I put on myself.
I pray for Grace to accept the freedom that is offered to me, and I pray that God would give me the courage to live in Grace and stop judging myself based upon these crazy measures I’ve put up all around me.
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
he saved us,
not because of works done by us in righteousness,
but according to his own mercy,
by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
so that being justified by his grace
we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
-Titus 3:4-7 (ESV)