Since April I have worked on this. I have written it out, then walked away from it. Typed it up and let it sit. Uploaded it to this blog, and didn’t finish it. Now it’s October and I’m thinking maybe I’ll publish it by Christmas!?
My procrastination has to do with performance I know. My self-talk will talk me right out of doing many things. For this blog, the talk goes “it only makes sense to you” – “no one will understand what you’re trying to say” – “your grammar is terrible” on and on it goes. Blah!
During Holy Week one thing I really look forward to is ‘Stations of The Cross’ on Good Friday. Every year this impacts my heart on some level, this year more than ever. It is a walk with Jesus through specific experiences He had leading up to His death.
One of my struggles is with keeping up with what I think I should be. Meeting weekly deadlines, quality time with my husband & family and trying to serve in ministry. Never feeling I am accomplishing what I should, always have this nagging feeling that I am a disappointment to my husband, family, co-workers, and friends.
Performance and people pleasing.
When I’m not up to what I think my par is or should be, or what I think others think it should be, it creates anxiety, self-loathing & trying harder. Even when I’m at par it’s never completely satisfying because it’s temporary, there is always more work and commitments than time.
My temporary fix of accomplishment creates the addiction, the high becomes the pursuit of finishing, the craving becomes bondage, and the fix becomes the god. It is a vicious cycle for a temporary fix.
Being held captive to all of this is suffocating. It creeps up, a slow strangling of sorts, which throws me into making sure everyone is happy with me and what I am doing; performance and a lot of “I’m sorry!” comes out of my mouth – ugh!
I think we all have that thing that holds us captive, a bondage to something that controls us. Do you have something that controls you?
Author Tim Keller’s questions help to process it:
“If ______ was not in my life any longer, would I lose my will to live?”
“If I didn’t have my _______ I’d lose my will to live.”
Maybe, you wouldn’t lose your will to live, but it would cause you to be extremely worried & anxious. You’d have to immediately try to fix, replace, purchase or control it.
Each season of my life it seems there something new I have to address. We definitely don’t ever arrive; it’s the journey that matters, day by day.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing,
yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16
As I enter the stations, I try to be as alone as possible. Waiting for people to get ahead of me then cringing a bit if someone comes in right after me. I get extremely distracted by other people & noise.
There are seven stations, each representing a significant part of Jesus’ journey to his death on the cross. At each you stop, read & touch the display to help understand each scene, imagining what Jesus experienced and how to apply it to yourself. Such a humbling experience.
I’ve always been so compelled by the cross itself, but always struggled with understanding Jesus dying FOR ME.
In 2004, after many wrong decisions and actions – Jesus became Lord of my life, not just what I do on Sundays. His love and grace pierced my heart through personal struggle, His word, a million other things He did, and people He brought into my life. He drew me & caused my heart response to be total surrender.
Captivated by His Love is the best way I know to describe it.
I strayed from God prior to that, I was sure He was finished with me. I gave up. I tried and failed, so my reasonable thought was He must be done with me.
If you can relate, I pray you have come to know His grace and mercy – His love never fails, even when we do. This relationship with Jesus has undoubtedly changed my life.
But, that cross. Always drawn to it, always compelled to drop to my knees in front of it.
It was station #6 that held me.
EVEN THOUGH JESUS COULD HAVE
given the word and overpowered all the guards, He let himself be bound and led away. Pick up the rope and hold it in your hands. Remember that Jesus was bound with a rope like this one. He chose to submit to the difficult way of the cross with every step that he took. He was betrayed so that we could be free. Thank Him for the freedom you currently experience because of what He has done in your life.
That rope – I picked it up, so coarse, hard to bend, thick and prickly. I stood there reading the words, rolling the rope between my fingers and hand.
One of Jesus’ disciples, Judas, betrayed Him. He guided soldiers and officials who wanted Jesus arrested and put to death, to Jesus.
Jesus already knew this, instead of fighting them, He simply asked who they were looking for. When they responded “Jesus of Nazareth,” Jesus said, “I am He”.
Jesus was bound and in my mind’s eye, I see Jesus just willingly holding his hands out as they tied him, took him captive with that rope – with no fight. It’s like Jesus was saying “Here I am, look no further.”
As I finished the stations, ending with Jesus’ death on the cross, I sat there praying that Jesus’ final words on the cross “it is finished” would resonate for me personally; in a way, they never had before.
The papers at the foot of the cross are there to write your name and nail your burden to the cross.
What is mine? Where am I off?
Performance & people pleasing came to mind, so I confessed it with tears, signed my name and wrote ‘It IS finished’ then nailed it, with three loud bangs.
I took this picture because I knew this was a moment with God I didn’t want to forget.
Since then, it has been on my mind all.the.time.
This quote by Timothy Keller really resonates with me,
“Secularism & Religion are both all about your personal performance. The gospel is the performance of another applied to you.”
“If ________ (work, ministry, marriage, children, education, etc.) is your idol, if you are successful, it goes to your head if you are a failure it goes to your heart.”
There is nothing wrong with hard work – I work hard, the problem is letting the results of that determine my worth. Or, letting relationships, ministry, marriage, children, education, etc. determine worth.
One morning, with my journal I felt the Lord leading me to dig into all this.
That rope, I kept thinking about it, imagining it around my wrists, how painful it would be, so coarse and prickly. Then I realized, performance & people pleasing is my rope, it binds me up, creates guilt & holds me captive.
Guilty if I didn’t get something finished at work and had to leave to be with family, guilty because I’m with family and not still working on what I left; guilty if I didn’t respond to all the emails, phone calls or text messages, guilty if I do respond because I didn’t spend that time with my family. Guilty if I’m not volunteering here or there, or guilty because I am here when I should be somewhere else. Guilty for spending so much time on this blog, guilty if I don’t, because I feel God nudging me to do it.
Oh, my goodness, it’s exhausting! Maybe you can relate?
Jesus surrenders, willingly.
Tying his hands.
His free will.
Gave Himself up.
As I prayed, telling God I need to get this, what does this mean to me Lord, please. I felt led to go to scripture referenced at Station 6 for answers.
Jesus said “if you are looking for me, then let these men go”, then it goes on to say that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me”.
As I was writing the scripture out, I felt God leading me to insert my name, to make it personal. Help me get ‘it is finished’, Jesus on the cross for me.
So, I did.
Jesus said, “If you are looking for me, then let Debbie go, I have not lost Debbie, the one you gave me”.
I sat there in a puddle, melted by the thought of Jesus saying my name, standing up for, and advocating for me.
Please do the same, insert your name?
Imagine that you are being held captive, with that awful rope around your wrists – then Jesus taking it off your wrists, putting it around His and saying, “If you are looking for me, then let ___________ go, I have not lost ____________, the one you gave me.”
Jesus was talking about his disciples, His followers. They believed in him, they weren’t perfect. We aren’t perfect.
Jesus will take it, we let the bondage of our lives become the lord of our lives. Instead, Jesus is saying to whatever it is that has a grip on us…
To the addiction, the expectations, the performance, the depression, the divorce, the affair, the habit, the guilt, the betrayal, the control, the ________________,
“Let her/him go, I will not lose the one that was given to me.”
Have you given up or think God has given up on you? You’re not worthy because you failed? Or keep failing? Not good enough? Or like Jesus, someone close to you has betrayed you?
He willingly was bound to free us.
Let His healing touch and forgiveness mend your heart.
I pray this is resonating with you – no matter the mistakes, the past the present – He is calling, wooing you to a freedom that only He can give. A love full of mercy and grace.
Our worth has to be found only in the finished work of Jesus Christ, His performance applied to us.
There is NOTHING we can do or have done to earn it.
A gift without strings attached.
Your value is not defined by your achievements. Your value is defined by the One who said “it is finished!” and who achieved it all. Ann Voskamp
It truly IS finished.