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My definition of success is knowing Jesus is with me all the time. (end of definition).
For many years I strived to become more successful by doing things that made me feel valuable. The only problem was, I didn’t know how to get value out of anything except accomplishment. So everyday I would wake up, genuinely excited about my long list of things to accomplish. I lived to get checkmarks on my list because, in my mind, those checkmarks told me I was valuable. Those checkmarks dictated my level of success.
Whether it was earning checkmarks for my spiritual life, Did I pray long enough? Did I read the Bible long enough? Have I been loving enough today? or earning checkmarks for my daily tasks, one way or another, my value centered around what I did rather than the new person I had become when I accepted Christ as my Savior. This kept me living in a perpetual state of anxiety, always trying harder and harder to measure up to my own expectations.
Although some people develop this performance acceptance syndrome as a result of the way they were raised, this wasn’t the case with me. I grew up in a loving home and have many memories of great times with my family.
I remember long road trips for family vacations in our station wagon. There was a seat in the back of it that sat backwards. Us kids thought it was cool, sitting backwards and watching the cars coming straight for us.
I also remember all of us kids piling on my Mom and Dad’s bed at different times just joking around. One morning after my Dad left to play golf, David, my brother, put several fake snakes and spiders in my parents’ bed. I remember hearing this blood-curdling scream from across the house. Mom totally freaked out when she woke up to these snakes and spiders staring her in the face.
Family dinners were also a regular part of our life growing up, as we all enjoyed the delicious meals my Mom had worked, sometimes, all day to prepare. Lots and lots of good times!
My temperament is melancholy-sanguine and along with the melancholy came a heavy dose of perfectionism and legalism. People with my temperament tend to love rules. Just tell me what to do and I will do it. This way I can feel safe, I would subconsciously think.
So I developed a habit of modifying my behavior in an effort to keep all the rules perfectly, but this behavior, many times, did not show the true colors of my heart. What I had was behavior modification, not heart transformation.
As a result of me forcing myself to produce good behavior on the outside I now had this good girl image I had to keep up in front of everyone. This produced hypocrisy. I felt valuable and better than others when I was seeing productiveness in my life, whether spiritual fruitfulness or natural productivity. On the hand, I felt like a loser when I failed to produce spiritual fruit or checkmarks on my list of tasks.
Now, just to clarify, I wasn’t a total fake. I really did have a tender heart for God and even had glimpses of the freedom I am experiencing today. It’s just that my legalistic brain would throw grace out like a machine gun spits out bullets. If grace tried to enter, my brain would go “tilt, tilt, not registering, access denied.”
It was as if I was constantly running on a treadmill of accomplishment, only allowing myself to get off for short periods of time on those rare days when I would accomplish everything I expected of myself. Behind all my self-efforts was a very insecure young lady.
Ahhhh – but God’s amazing grace came in and unspooled my messed up thinking and spooled it back up again correctly!
I spent all of 2012 learning, learning and learning some more. What did I learn? That I am already deeply valued by God, not according to what I do or don’t do, but simply because I am His daughter. Now I take time everyday to reflect on God’s great love for me and I encourage you to do the same.
The more you feed on God’s love, the more unshakable you become. Why is that? Because the Bible, which is full of God’s promises including many about how much God loves you, shows you that your worth and value doesn’t vacillate back and forth based on you. Instead, it’s all based on Jesus and what He has already accomplished for you through the finished work of the cross. Your part is to believe that Jesus Christ is your success in every area of your life. It’s a total dependance on Jesus.
The results are simply amazing. I don’t think I would be exaggerating to say that I get twice as much done in peace as I accomplished before while living in frustration. What I was experiencing before was an identity crisis. My identity was in my goodness, my self-efforts and my ability to produce a favorable result.
Once I learned my true identity in Christ I started breathing much easier than ever before. What a relief it was.
I’m about to share some verses with you that I just love. As you rest in Jesus for your success, He will cause you to live a life more productive than you could ever imagine possible!
2 Corinthians 1:21-22
Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In Him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting His Yes within us. By His Spirit He has stamped us with his eternal pledge, a sure beginning of what He is destined to complete. (MSG)
If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!