This morning, the Holy Spirit gripped my heart with truth, yet again.
As the rest of my blog suggests, I wrestle with people-pleasing and perfectionism. The times I fail, my identity quickly becomes “failure.” The times I succeed, my identity switches to “Miss-Awesome-Pants.”
You’ll know when I’m feeling like Miss-Awesome-Pants because I wear a cute pinterest-inspired hair-do, slip on my skinny jeans, and schedule lots of coffee dates so I can share my confident moment with everyone.
Whether up or down, I base all of my self-worth on my self-work. My identity lies in my ability (or lack thereof.)
I relate very closely to the main character in Fantastic Mr. Fox. Standing on a bridge, contemplating all of his mistakes, Mr. Fox makes a statement I relate to very well:
“I think I have this thing where everybody has to think I’m the greatest.And if they aren’t completely knocked out and dazzled and slightly intimidated by me, I don’t feel good about myself.” ― Roald Dahl, Fantastic Mr. Fox
Mr. Fox’s identity is wrapped in his ability to be fantastic. My movie would be titled Miss-Awesome Pants, and would tell a similar story about a woman striving to be a knock-out wife and slightly intimidating in her Christ-likeness.
Sounds pretty ridiculous, huh?
For the last year, I’ve been grappling with this statement: “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Phil 2:12-13
I think, “if I succeed to work out my salvation, then I’ll see fruit in my life. I’ll see a change in my heart and growth in my ministry.”
This mentality leads to a daily Wah-wah-wah (you know, the sound of a cartoon falling.) When I screw up, I feel I am failing to “work out” my salvation. My “work-outs” aren’t showing results.
J.D. Greear wrote a book titled, The Gospel: Rediscovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary. God has used the words of this book to bring freedom to my identity.
“Both Satan and the Holy Spirit will point out your sin. But they do so in entirely different ways and for entirely different purposes….
… Satan beats us down with our failures. Jesus calls us up into our identity. Jesus starts with the perfect state He has purchased for us by His death and uses the power of His resurrection to bring us into conformity with it.” (pg. 52)
In other words, there is no condemnation, no need to feel damned, if you belong to Jesus (Romans 8:1). I feel I am one or the other: Miss-Awesome-Pants or Miss-Epic-Fail. But neither are true. According to The Gospel (both the book and truth about Jesus) my identity is summed up what God says of me:
“I have made you, My child. I have taken away all your sin. I could not approve of you more than I do right now. Live that way.” (The Gospel, pg. 53)
I must keep sight of the gospel:
- that I am a sinner in need of a savior
- that Jesus came as that Savior, exchanging my sin for His righteousness
- that my decision to accept His grace and His Lordship gives me complete approval from God, even as He would approve of His own Son.
Instead of looking to myself to make things right, I need to keep my eyes on Jesus.
So I take Greear’s advice, and I preach the gospel to myself!
Specifically today, I am struggling with apathy. I don’t really care about getting laundry done, or editing my book, or exercising, or being faithful in the little things. In my apathy, I then experience failure to accomplish. Failure then turns to pride and looking to self to overcompensate…. leading to absolute chaos in my heart and home!
Then I hear the Holy Spirit whisper…..
Christ has died, and Christ is risen, Christ will come again. (Mystery, by Charlie Hall.)
Now live, Becky. Live in my love, in my truth of who you are. Make mistakes, I’ve already covered them. Give up, throw a fit, get prideful… come back. My grace is sufficient.
My kindness never ends. My discipline is love. My plan is good for you.
It takes “me” out of the picture… and my failures with it.
I think I am finally realizing where where the “fear and trembling” part of Philippians 2 comes in. It is not fear of failure, or trembling in the presence of a God who disapproves.
The fear and trembling is a response to overwhelming freedom. Freedom from having to be fantastic, from never making a mistake, produces such reverence for God. His complete acceptance makes me tremble.
I work out my salvation by simply living out the impossible identity I have been given by Christ.
And that is Fantastic.
Miss-“God is Awesome”-pants