What I’m going to share with you today isn’t easy, so please be gentle with me. But the truth hurts sometimes, and if I can’t write about real struggles, then I don’t want to write at all. Sometimes being honest is the most unexplainable thing we can do.
God brought me to an ugly realization about myself. He tenderly and mercifully revealed to me that I cared more about what others thought of me than what He thought of me. “Oh no, surely that’s not true, Lord!” I insisted, but as He gently brought to mind circumstance after circumstance where I made choices out of fear of others’ disapproval or of disappointing them, I realized He was right.
He also followed that truth up with another one: “Child, you will never be the woman I created you to be if you continue to live in fear of rejection by others. Living in this stronghold is holding you back from the unexplainable life I have planned for you.”
I knew I had to make this a defining moment to remember when I was tempted to fall back into my pattern of people pleasing. I took a piece of paper, wrote FEAR OF OTHERS on it, and threw it into the fire. As I watched it smolder and burn, God pointed out that it was gone forever never to be rekindled. He had completely and utterly destroyed it in the fire.
That was a defining moment for me. Within the next year, God had me doing things I would have been terrified to even consider before. It’s a hard battle, but God faithfully brings me back to that defining moment and reminds that He was enough. This year, God brought to light a new area of fear that had been hidden in the caverns of my heart. I was shocked when He told me there was yet more fear to deal with; fear that I didn’t even know was there.
God began to challenge me with the reasons I kept myself so busy. Why was it not enough to serve Him in the one area to which He had called me? Why did I need to take on three or four commitments at the same time? They were all worthy and passionate areas of service, but all were not things to which He had called me. He helped me to see they were really my back up plans- so that if I failed in one area, I had two or three other areas I could pursue to feel like I hadn’t failed.
Here’s what God told me. “Child, what have I called you to do? What giftedness have I given you? All of these other commitments that you have taken on are your idols so you won’t judge yourself a failure if things don’t unfold to your liking. But if you obey me in what I have called you to do, you will never fail. You need to let go of your expectations of yourself. I’m asking you to be faithful. I’m the one who makes your life unexplainable.”
With my head hung low, I whispered, “I’m so sorry, Lord. I’ve really made a mess of things.” To which He tenderly replied, “I love you too much to let you live in fear of not meeting your own expectations of yourself. Let them go.” So this time I’m not burning fear in the fire, but I’m tossing it to the wind. This is my defining moment. I’ve realized now that failure is ultimately going to happen if I perpetually live in fear. Obedience to the Lord is the unexplainable life I am seeking.
Maybe you can relate. Perhaps God will reveal an area within your own heart that is holding you back from embracing your own unexplainable life. Maybe we can walk together on a new path of freedom. I’d enjoy the company.
Do you struggle with busyness and overcommitment? What do you think is the underlying reason for doing so?
For more about Erica and her book An Unexplainable Life: Recovering the Wonder and Devotion of the Early Church click here.