Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Power Struggle

1 Chronicles 29:11
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours.

As a little girl, I was no "sweet thing."  It's okay, I can admit it.  My parents and family will probably giggle and nod affirmatively that I say this.  I was a feisty thing, with thoughts and ideas bigger than I was, and bigger than my young experiences could lend me.

I remember that I didn't want anyone to correct me because I felt like they were being condescending.  Even if they were just saying, "Cherie, honey, your shoe is untied."  My cheeks would burn fiercely with embarrassment, and I would wish I could crawl in a hole never to be seen again! *deep breath* . . . I didn't want people to see me as incapable, incompetent, or any in-, im-, il-, ir-, un- !!!  What I didn't want at all was to be seen as helpless or powerless.  I didn't want to be seen as less.

So I was constantly putting myself in a position to feel like more - more of a person, more of a source of "doing."  Don't ask for help - that's weak.  Don't let yourself say "no" to anything - that's rude.  Be completely independent, I thought, and you will be successful.  Don't ever believe you can't do everything.  You can and you will.  My mantra every day became Do MORE.  And I did...and most things I did, I did very well.  People recognized it, praised it, and it fed the monster growing inside me, the monster of perfectionism.

Any Type-A person knows all too well what it's like to want to do everything perfectly.  Only this kind of person knows the day-in-day-out pressure of having to succeed 100% all. of. the. time.  One can get entirely wrapped up in to-do lists, organization, seeking approval of your own self and others, and being the type of person that says "yes" to everything.  To everyone else, I can look so put-together, so talented, so intelligent, so... everything-everyone-wants-to-be!  And yet...sometimes, just sometimes, in the deepest part of my heart, I still feel inadequate, still longing to be better, longing to be...perfect.
(Now, can't we see the basis for an eating disorder here?) 

Maybe not for everyone, but for many perfection-strivers, who work hard every minute of every day to be the ultimate "someone," there comes a point where we have to realize we're trying to carry not only our own world, but the world of many others (especially moms!  Moms, I hear you!  Moms, you're heros every day!  But not all-powerful, I'm sorry...).  And at this point, we might panic, or we might tighten up our bootstraps and keep going.  Time after time, however, we can't ignore that feeling creeping upon us -- the one that says, "It's not enough.  You need more time in your day.  Skip another hour of sleep.  You can't sit down and eat dinner; you have things to do!"  This voice is the voice of anxiety, the whisper of the power-seeker, the twisted ways of Lucifer himself.

Women, WE ARE DOING WONDERFULLY.  We women are often doing more things than seems humanly possible, and constantly questioning if it's enough.  Have we done enough???????  Have we loved our family enough?  Have we gotten good enough grades?  Have we excelled at our jobs?  Are we doing the right thing?  Do our husbands or boyfriends find us attractive?  Could we fit in one more workout?  Is the laundry done?  Is the kitchen clean?  Is the floor swept?  Do we look pretty?  Are our clothes modern?  I know I forgot to do something today -- WHAT DID I FORGET TO DO????

Isn't that exhausting?  Doesn't that seem unfair, to worry about so many (sometimes petty) things?

Women, we are doing enough.  Especially because we are NOT all-powerful, all our striving is enough (and sometimes it's too much!).  Let me repeat something important: WE. ARE. NOT. ALL-POWERFUL.  I know that the secular world would think it's harsh and horrible of me to say that we aren't all-powerful.  And to be certain I cover the feminist base: neither are men.  For sure men aren't.  God created Eve because Adam needed a helper...and Lord, don't we know it!  

Here's the cool news.  God IS all-powerful.  And He is FOR US.  He is on our side; He helps the helper.  When our plate is too full, when we're spinning all of those full plates, and when that cunning voice whispers to us to skip an hour of sleep, we can approach the Throne of the Lord Most High and say, "Please.  Abba, I need help."

1 Corinthians 6:14
And God raised the Lord and will raise us up by His power.

I've been struggling to cure my writer's block for this post.  I knew what my life could tell, but I didn't necessarily know how to write it.  But guess what I had to walk through this past week?  A week of utter weakness (pun intended).  Anxiety pounded at me in a very literal sense.  I felt like I had a large bird trapped inside of my chest, wings fluttering or flapping wildly, depending on the moment.  I felt out of control - my schedule was filled from early, early in the morning until I could finally collapse at 9:30pm or later.  I had an inexplicable sadness, a haunting depression, and found every joyful thing to be mundane or flat-out annoying.  All I knew was that I had to go through the motions.  I had to finish all of my "to-dos."

I know many people suffer like this all the time, and sometimes it gets to the point of debilitation.  I am SO BLESSED to have a Christian husband who approached me with prayers and reminders of God's sovereignty.  I was immediately relieved of the stress I had been walking in, the darkness lifted from me.  Now I realize I may have needed to go through that to re-surrender my to-do list to God.  I don't want to do anything that isn't God's priority.
**If you don't have this sort of support somewhere in your life, find it.  Though God's power is displayed all around us (Romans 1:20), sometimes we need God's people to help us remember  the Lord's sweet truth.

I am not going to over-complicate this anymore.  I don't need to.  God has the power.  Women, we do much, and we help our husbands, our children, our friends, and other loved ones.  We have a lot to do in one day... but let us do NONE of it outside of God's power.  He is the Almighty One.  When He guides our paths, we are relieved from guilt and condemnation.  We don't have to hold all of the power, but we do have to know the One who holds it.  We will love better, we will do better, we will be better, because the God of heaven and earth somehow still cares about our to-do list, and He will help us sort it out of we surrender it to Him with pure hearts.

My prayer:

Dear heavenly Father,
Take my to-do list and make it Yours.  I know that You are the one I need to call upon when my days seem busy, when weeks are long, when nights are sleepless.  Help me remember Who You are, and who I am in you.  I thank You that I am where I am today.  I thank You that when I look back, I can see that You always carried me, even when I thought my world would end.  You are beautiful and powerful, and I worship all of Your ways.  I love you.