Alan Cohen says, "Most people spend a great deal of time and energy protecting themselves from the things they fear. As a result, they don't really live; they merely survive." Can you identify with that statement? I can. That's why I grew up to be a Perfectionist.
A Perfectionist (notice I capitalized it because it is more than just a description, it's a way of life) is someone who feels that if they don't do everything perfectly something bad will happen. It has nothing to do with doing things well or as best you can. You have to do even better. Sound attainable? Hardly! It was such a way of life for me that I didn't even realize it was NOT a trait others admired in me. It took having children to make me realize that just because I knew what was best for them to keep them out of harm's way--physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually--it did not mean they would immediately acquiesce to my wisdom. As each one (there were three boys) grew and developed their own distinctive personalities I came to realize I could not keep them from making mistakes. My method of teaching was to tell them what not to do when I should have taught them how to make good decisions on their own--how to evaluate, predict, consider, etc.
I remember one of my sons saying to me that he wanted to make his own mistakes. That made no sense to me! But now it does. What he was telling me in a round about way was that he wanted to go out there and live his own life--take risks--live and learn. I wanted him to learn then live. But there's only so much one can learn without actually doing. No matter how much book learning you have on how to drive a car, it's not until you get behind the wheel and put that knowledge into action that you actually learn the skill of driving. How like God to teach us in that way.
But we don't realize this. We accept Christ, receive the Holy Spirit, then fail time and again to look like a Christian. We've read our Bible, we know how we're supposed to act, but then either we don't act at all or we fall far short when we do. So many Christians give up at this point and settle for a less-than-fulfilling Christian life. They make excuses like "I'm only human;" "God forgives me;" or as Flip Wilson used to say, "The devil made me do it."
Instead, God wants us to get behind the wheel of our life. We've gotten our license (the Holy Spirit). We've studied the laws of the road (read scripture). We press down on the gas pedal and start moving (take action). But suddenly something gets in our way, and we over correct and run off the road....this is when we panicked and forgot God was in the car with us to guide and direct us.
The root of this panic is fear. It is fear that fuels the Perfectionist and fear that makes us forget God is always there with us. It's fear that prevents us from truly living the life we've been given. So the next time you're tempted to make one of those excuses I listed above, instead acknowledge that it's fear that made you do it or not do it. Then look to God who provides you with all that you need....then.....live.....live your life with passion....to the fullest!
Father, taking risks is not risky when we're prepared....and to be prepared means to trust and obey You. May I recognize fear so that I do not let it back into my life.
Link to scripture: Psalm 31:24