I am a perfectionist. I like presenting my life as a nice, clean, pretty package for all the world to ooh and
ah over. I like my Facebook profile to coordinate. If I don’t get one hundred percent on a test I feel as if
I’ve failed- even if I get 95%. If I stutter over my words in public, I am left feeling ridiculous for the rest
of the day. I hate it when my struggles are exposed.
Perhaps you are now nodding your head in complete agreement. Maybe- just maybe- you can relate. The
thing about perfectionism, however, is that I am setting up my own standards. For me, perfection is
generally defined as those wonderful moments when I feel happy- also known as those moments when
everything is going my way. When I feel accomplished. When I feel successful. When life is not going
my way and I feel stressed, not accomplished, and far from successful I define myself as a
If I set my own standard of perfectionism, then I will never be ‘good enough’ and I will never
fulfil my own flesh. If I set my own standard of perfectionism, then I will always remain a
failure in my own eyes. I can never live up to my own standard. And that’s why it is so comforting
that I don’t have to define myself according to my failures or successes- I am defined by God!
He calls His very own masterpiece.
Rend Collective recently posted the following on their Facebook page: ‘…Maybe you’re wrestling with the
phrase ‘good enough’- we all do sometimes. The thing is, we don’t claim our victories for ourselves and toss our
failure into the arms of Jesus. He claims them all. He claims us entirely. Which means we’re no longer slaves to our
failure or our successes. There’s no longer “good enough”, there’s just “His”. Rest in that knowledge today, He won’t
walk out. He won’t walk out. He won’t walk out.’
I absolutely love these words! We can never be ‘enough’ but, as Christians, we are His. This is the truth
we must rest in.
You see, if I am completely honest with myself, I idolize perfection. Instead of relying on God, I
struggle to be ‘good enough’. While God has already defined me as His precious child, I blindly scramble
around, trying to control my own life and reach the heights of perfectionism. That said, time and time
again, I only reach the depths of depression and stress. I am missing out on living this life fully because
instead of crying out to God and admitting ‘I can’t live this life without You!’ I am reaching inward and trying to
satisfy my own self, hopelessly attempting to reach my standard of perfection, all the while trying to
prove myself perfect in the sight of those I know and love. God calls us to be like Him. To be like Christ
doesn’t mean we have to be perfect. Rather, we are trying to be like Him because we aren’t perfect and He is.
I don’t want people to see my ugly side. I don’t want them to know of my anxious heart, or that I
struggle in math, or to know of my continual temptation of procrastination. I want to appear perfect. I
want to be perfect. But sometimes, we need to share our stories and ugliness. Remember, it was through
Jesus’ scars that doubting Thomas believed. Through our stories, struggles, and ugliness, maybe- just maybe- we’ll
bring encouragement and Light to others. Struggles- even the seemingly little ones (like math!)- are what
make us human. Friends, family, and even those we don’t really know, crave transparency.
They desire honesty. Just like you and I foolishly believe we're the only ones who struggle, so do they.
And sometimes, all it takes is admitting, ‘I am not perfect, but God is.’
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
-1 John 1: 8-10
Like many, I too often get so caught up in doing life and getting through school and craving the World's definition of success that I forget God's TRUTH.
It (the World's definition) leaves us feeling empty.
We are God's masterpieces, defined by Him and what He has done for us.
As an Artist He sees past the brokenness, the chipped paint, and rust. He captures the small piece of beauty most would walk by. And even the smallest amount of beauty is worth fighting for and dying for.
Yes, our purpose is to glorify Him and make Him known. All He wants from us is to love Him and live it out...not to be the most 'successful' person in the world.
Normally, each morning I wake up and begin a half hour devotional time for myself. I read a few passages from the bible (right now I'm studying Psalms) and pray. Then starts my day of schoolwork..
Today, however, I felt the urge- more of a calling- to go for a walk. A walk around our neighborhood sounded good to me, and so, I started out. However, after a few minutes of walking I felt almost guilty for not doing my devotions for the day. I felt silly walking when I should have been sitting and reading my bible and praying. But then it dawned on me, I don't have to sit indoors to do my prayer time with God. Why can't I do it while I walk.? So, as I walked and enjoyed the air's fragrance of newly blooming lilac bushes, I thanked God for all of His wonderful creations. I was so wrapped up in the pure enjoyment of the morning, and just talking with God, that before I realized it, my walk was over.
So, I set out again to walk around the block once more. I listened to the birds chirping their morning song, and felt the warm sun as it came creeping over the treetops. I found myself smiling and felt immensely happy to be out enjoying such a beautiful morning!!
After I got back to my house, I opened my bible to Psalms to see if I could find one chapter or verse on how to describe this beautiful morning. My eyes fell on Psalm 95. “O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; Let us shout joyfully to him in Psalms. For the Lord is a great God.” I love that!! It summed up exactly how and what I was feeling.
I was thankful for such a beautiful morning, and just to be alive to enjoy His beautiful works of art!! Suddenly my devotions meant much more to me. I felt so free to enjoy nature and rejoice in the fact that I have a Creator who gives me such amazing things to enjoy!!
God Bless. :)
~Alexia E. B~
Sometimes I feel that my talents are useless. That they don't matter. There are those who are a hundred times more gifted in art than I. They have memorized all the ins and outs of their camera. Writers that are changing lives in their communities.
It seems as if I'll never make a difference. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you feel small, unworthy, unnoticed in the things you love most to do.
Yet, this is who God created me and you to be. And, every single talent I have (and you have!) is totally unique. No one in the entire world can capture something the same way I can...the same way you can.
He created me to love capturing His beauty, His grace through art and my writing. Even if I were to go unnoticed by other humans, God Himself is pleased in me! He created me to love stroking a paint brush along the canvas, clicking that shutter, journaling my night away, caring for dogs, etc.
Let's claim the talents God gave us and not feel ashamed. He loves us to be who He created us to be. If used to His glory, NO painting, photograph, lyric, etc is useless.
This is not a sappy, 'feel good' thing I want to say, this is His truth: He gave me the talents I have, He will use them for His glory and purpose. He gave you the talents you have. And guess what? He will use them for His very own special purpose! Claim and abide in His truth.
'The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.' Psalm 138: 8a
My future hangs on this
You make preciousness from dust
Please don't stop
-Second Chance, Rend Collective
For a moment, I can simply be. I can think. There are no voices telling me to be who I am not. No sound of the smartphone notifications. Branches creek in the fresh, spring-scented wind. There is a sense of delight...of freedom.
If you were to scroll through my Facebook profile, you would see a glimpse of who I am. My interests, my passions, talents, the things that make me laugh, Bible verses, quotes, and songs that encourage, motivate, and challenge me. But, this is only a snippet of who I am. These posts, status updates, and photographs are like a land of Facebook fantasy. Yes, this is me... but only the 'best' of who I am. My life is definitely not photo-shopped. My life is not a constant, blissful state of joy and happiness. My mind is not full of an endless stream of motivational quotes. I'm not singing non-stop those hymns and contemporary Christian songs. And, I'm not always living out the Bible verses I post. In fact, I have the worst case of looking to social media when the storms hit, instead of to God. Please understand...what you see on social media is only part of a whole. I so easily fall into believing that everyone else has these amazing, perfect lives while I'm the only one struggling. It's not hard to fall into this trap when browsing the internet. But at the same time, maybe some look at my profile and have the same thoughts...
I believe Billy Graham put it wisely when He preached, 'On the outside, you have a mask. Inside, the peace and the joy and the happiness that you've always searched for is missing.' (However, please note, this is originally directed toward non-believers).
I believe one reason many of us love social media is because we can easily hide behind it. Our online profiles can become one form of our mask. That little world of bliss is the life we want... we desire our very own social media lives and we secretly hope that others will also desire our 'lives'.
Each and everyone of us wants to be noticed. We crave that spotlight. Sure, some of us have stage fright. But, we can make our online profiles, blogs, daily lives, etc. our personal stages. In regard to social media, we begin to crave another 'like'. Another retweet. Another follower. We begin posting more selfies, our blogs turn into personal diaries of obsessions, complaints, and narcissism.
Often, we as Christ-followers easily forget that we are set apart...we slowly begin to neglect God and become like the world. With every selfie we post, we can quickly build an arrogance if our hearts aren't well guarded. Pastor Erwin Lutzer of The Moody Church said, 'To slide always from the gospel always begins with neglect.'
In all honesty, I love social media. I mean, it's extremely fun...who couldn't agree with that?! I am an amateur photographer, and in my opinion, social media is one of the best ways to share my photography...as well as my writing and other artwork. That said, there is a fine line between loving something and obsessing over something. Social media can be used as a tool and a place to share a bit of your life with friends and family, or as a place to spew out your opinions, hurdle your arguments, and post your obscure, even suggestive photos. It can be a place of encouragement and healthy challenges, or it can be a place of discontentment. I've never had a social media argument of any kind, but I have experienced the discontentment factor.
We see a photo, a quote, a tiny part of someone's life and we become envious. That one thing could ruin our entire day.
The question is, how can we love being on social media without obsessing (or stressing) over our profiles, what friends share, and these posts that make us feel discontented and depressed for the rest of the day? I think that we first must remember that it is not Instagram's fault, for example, that we are jealous and therefore depressed. We blame so much on social media as it is! But in this case, it is our own flesh... our own sin nature. We are coveting (remember commandment number ten!) what we don't have. We must go to God for strength in this area, not criticize the public profiles and blogs of others'.
What do you post on your account? What are the motives behind each thing you post? Do my posts glorify God, or myself? I often have to ask myself these questions. Am I posting just to get the most likes, the most comments, the most attention? It is easy to fall into this... to step into the beam of our spotlight. The hardest part for me has been evaluating how I spend my day. I believe you can also relate... do you procrastinate through media more than you delve into the gospel? This is a struggle for many. So, you are not alone. But at the same time, you know it must stop. God asks us to redeem our time, not waste it.
This all said, I believe that Christians need to be on social media. Technology is definitely one way to minister, to reach out. However, I believe that there is also an unbelievable freedom in stepping back, fasting from media. Taking a week off, maybe two, even a month. There is such a beautiful freedom in taking that break. Each time I sense media of any kind is replacing my First Love, I try to take a fast. If social media begins to cultivate a sin (addiction, procrastination, discontentment, etc.), STOP! Returning to your First Love is the one and only cure. Remember, the point of the fast is to revert your heart back to Him. Whenever you feel yourself desiring to go to social media, pray. So often I have failed media fasts because I continue to neglect God, to not call out to Him. There is tremendous struggle in fasting, but in the end- to be closer than ever before to God- it is worth it immensely.
As I already stated, I believe that Christians need to be on social media. To post those verses, share their stories, etc. However, we also need to guard our heart. We are God's, not the World's. We are set apart, not in. Social media can be so much fun, or it can be a web of depression and peer pressure. Without sounding too cliché, let me ask a question that you may very well need to hear today, what is social media for you?
'Handle with Prayer' is a column that all of us SLAH columnists contribute to. Please take your time and enjoy the teen thought and insight of each article!