The other day I turned 39. I had such high hopes, such grand expectations. I counted down the days and when the calendar turned, I was hoping for fireworks and presents…at the very least I was hoping for presents! But…I was disappointed—my gift from Steve had been given a couple weeks prior (my hope for another one wasn’t realized); I woke up with a cold, my hair didn’t color the way I had intended, and I was just plain cranky. I know, I know—count the gifts you did receive: the beautiful cards, the texts, emails and well-wishes did indeed make me feel loved. But, it wasn’t enough. It’s never enough.
I’ve reflected a whole lot on that concept of expectations and never being enough these past few months; I wish I could say I’ve mastered it, but alas…not far enough yet. I’m a perfectionist—not in the everything has to be perfect, never a messy house or hair out of place—kind of perfect, but I set a bar high in the sky, I set my expectations so far out there that is absolutely impossible to reach. So, not only do I have my hopes dashed time and time again, I simply cannot experience the feeling of success. So, I’m learning…I’m learning that not only is perfection not possible, it’s not even something to strive for. I’m learning that lowering my expectations is actually a state of grace, not a recipe for failure. I’m learning that I have limitations, that I do not have the energy to give to every last cause, person, need on the planet, so I must choose where and to whom I’m able to spend my precious resource. This does not make me weak or less than or ineffective. What it does mean is that I’m now able to simply live in the moment, because there is no bar to strive for. It means now I can give out of my heart and soul, not because of guilt or expectation. It means I can love more fully because my love is not dependent upon what you do, but I simply love who you are.
And it also means…something I’m slowly beginning to understand: “…but God said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Cor. 12.9-10). Christ’s light can shine so much more brightly through me, because I’m not blocking his presence with my own need to succeed and achieve. The power of Jesus is revealed, not because Jesus is more powerful, but because I finally am beginning to realize I am not capable of single-handedly living this thing called life. I have physical limitations and need to rest. I have gifts in areas of children and worship and compassionate conversation and do not have the gifts of administration and technology and theological teaching. My energy soars when I’m in community and is drained when I’m in meetings. And, you know what? That’s okay. Because I was not created to be perfect in all things; I was not meant to not make mistakes and to have the energy to be all and do all. I was created to simply be the Sarah God created me to be—a compassionate, cranky, giving, limited, opinionated, grace-filled child of God, who makes tons and tons of mistakes, and who rests in the promise, that it is in those places where the light of Jesus most fully shines.
So, tell me…who are you? Who did God create you to be? What energy might you share with the world? What gives you energy? What drains it away? Where are those places where Jesus’ power is made most fully present in you? Seriously—I would love to hear your story. Send me a note or call me or flag me down after worship. Together we can rest in the light of Jesus.