When I became a Christian, I arrived at faith’s door with windblown hair and several large, overstuffed suitcases. I had meticulously overloaded each one with my expectations. If I had been boarding an airplane, I would have been charged a fortune to check those bags due to their weight. I had expectations about every aspect of the Christian life. I had unrealistic ones about myself and about Christians around me. I quickly learned that carrying that luggage around would require all my energy and would leave me facing life’s challenges depleted of strength.
I experienced a lot of disappointment with my faith and with God as a result of what I had packed in those suitcases. My expectations were nothing short of perfectionism. If I were to plot my faith journey on a line it might resemble the scribbles of a small child with a bright crayon- wild circles and jagged lines.
I remember when my eldest child created his first “masterpiece”. It didn’t resemble much, just a bit of color on a large white paper but to me, his mother, it was a wondrous work of art. I proudly exhibited it on my fridge so all who entered my kitchen could gaze with awe on it. Wow, he actually drew something! Just the fact that my child created it was enough. I didn’t expect his first attempt to be anything more. I’d like to image that’s how God views my “scribbles”- my attempts to live out my faith, my failings to love others, myself and Him. My expectations set me up on a consistent basis to disappoint myself. I worry that I am a disappointment to God and I fret that I am failing at this thing called faith. Could it be that God sees my “scribbles” and like a loving parent says, “ Wow, you actually drew something”? Maybe God sees my attempts to live this life and to give myself to Him fully and hangs my “pictures” on His heavenly fridge. God doesn’t expect me to get it right all the time. My perfectionism expects me to perform, but God knows exactly who and what I am with all the messy and disheveled parts that I try so anxiously to cover up.
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” Isaiah 64:6
“But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
So much of my Christian life has been a struggle with my unrealistic expectations. I am still learning to give them to God along with my timetables, my plans for my children and my longings. I’ve put those suitcases down and admitted they were far too burdensome for me. Like a small child I have learned to take hold of the bright crayon expecting that God will guide my hand gracefully on the page.
Thank you that you know me, that I can’t hide the truth of who I am from you and still you love me. What a comfort it is to realize that you love me just as I am but that you love me too much to leave me as I am. Please change me from the inside out. I give myself to you. Thank you that I can trust you with my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Christine Bracewell is a single mother of three young adults, Anthony(22), Nicholas (21), and Julia (17). She is self employed and is preparing to return to college full time next September. She loves the life the Lord has blessed her with and is grateful for His provision since losing her husband Rob to cancer 11 years ago.