My whole life I have been a perfectionist.
I know this because very little ever happens that is exactly the way I want it. You see, in my mind I can see the end result the exact way I want it to be. But in order for that result to come about there are any number of steps that have to be taken, in order, for things to work the way they should.
For way too many years I factored into my complicated chain of events the actions of others. And when they couldn’t read my mind and do their part, I gave myself permission to stop working toward that goal.
Why bother? It was never going to be the way I pictured it.
If only everyone else would just do their part, I could get mine done and everything would be…perfect.
In recent years I’ve learned a lot about boundaries. A basic thing I’ve found in working through Boundaries https://www.boundariesbooks.com/, by Cloud and Townsend, is I need to figure out where I stop and others begin.
The result has been that instead of factoring in other people’s parts in the way I’d like things to be, I’m more frequently taking things on with the idea that I may need to do it all myself.
But not BY myself.
In my faith journey I’ve always known that the goal is to have a personal relationship with Jesus. And in my head I’ve known that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
And though I’ve known this, it has been a lifelong search to figure out how to have that personal relationship.
I’ve been talking recently about prayer. Specifically about interceding for other people by praying for them, asking God to show me how to pray for them.
But praying for others is pointless if I don’t have my own close, personal friendship with Jesus.
Remember that image I talked about, learned from a Beth Moore study? That interceding is like someone who is intimately involved with another taking that person’s face in their hands, turning them to face themselves, and speaking up to defend and seek help for another.
It only does any good if the person’s face you’re holding has the power to act and bring real help to the one you are interceding for.
That would be Jesus. And he certainly has the power!
So I need to be intimately involved with Jesus before I can plead the cause of another.
In our lives we experience all kinds of intimacy. With our mothers when we were very young, our fathers and siblings as we grew up. More and more, working our way outward from family to friends to spouses, and then the closeness we have with our own children and grandchildren.
I have to ask myself, honestly I do this quite often, how intimate am I with Jesus?
How much of my life do I share with him? How much time do I spend with him? How closely do I listen for him to respond to me? How honestly do I tell him how I’m feeling and where I’m struggling?
I don’t want the kind of relationship where I’m so busy handling my life on my own, that I roll along gathering up problems I need help with. When I get such a heavy load that I feel like I’m going to break, THEN I take a quick minute to go unload it in a hurried prayer, and then I’m off handling everything on my own again.
Dump and run.
Any of you that are parents have probably experienced this with your kids.
You can tell there’s something bugging them. You try to get them to talk about it, but they aren’t ready, they’re embarrassed, or they think they don’t need any help dealing with anything. They can handle their own lives.
So the tension builds up until they can’t take it anymore, and out of nowhere there’s some kind of explosive response to the simplest request.
It’s messy, it seems to make no sense, and it can take a long time to figure out what the deeper issue is.
I’ve spent a lot of years dumping my troubles at the foot of Christ, then running away before I have to look him in the face.
Because I’m afraid of what he might tell me I have to do to make it work out right.
I was reading a short piece by A.W. Pink the other day that helps me picture the way I SHOULD approach God. He writes,
“He would have you make Him your Friend: not only your Counselor, but your Confidant – the One into whose ear you are to pour the very secrets of your heart. He would have you be quite artless and natural, just like a little child coming to its mother, pouring into her ear its every little woe, trouble, and disappointment.”
I remember those days, long before the defiant rants came on, when every one of my children would climb up in my lap and lay their head down and tell me their troubles.
That’s what Jesus wants us to do.
If you’ve never tried approaching him this way, what is stopping you?
For me there were many years when I felt I had no right. But that’s a lie. Jesus is supposed to be a friend who is closer than a brother.
A dear pastor and friend always told me that Jesus is a gentleman. He will never force himself on you. And that is absolutely true.
He leaves it up to us to accept his invitation to enter into a never-ending friendship with him.
And he gives us the right to approach him, any time we want, to talk about anything on our minds.
Or just to sit and be.
Even when I dump and run, he knows what my real issue is.
But like any close, loving friend, Jesus wants me to come and spend some time with him, feeling the relief of being with someone who fully knows everything about me, who I can be real with.
And as I start to open up about the things that are weighing me down, I find something remarkable happens.
He doesn’t give me a to-do list that will make everything work out right.
He asks me to leave it in his hands, to let him do the heavy lifting. He tells me I don’t have to handle this on my own.
And I no longer feel any hurry to run away.