He loves me so well … in big ways and small ways … and I fall so short.
He loves me through a handwritten note with precious Scripture shared.
He loves me through a generous South Bend police officer who offers a ride instead of directions.
He loves me through raising up a volunteer in response to a last minute plea in my absence.
He loves me through the unexpected wave and grin of a sweet 18 month old.
He loves me through His Son and His perfect sacrifice.
And in exchange for His unconditional, relentless love, I neglect Him, I fail Him, I fall short.
He loves me so well … the God of the Universe, the Creator of all things, the very Foundation of this world and all that is in it … and I neglect to spend time with Him. I neglect to fully invest myself in really knowing Him. I neglect to trust His purpose and plan. I fail to love Him well in return.
He loves me so well, and I fail to love His people in accordance with not only His example, but His command. I put far too many conditions on the love I extend to others. I fail to love the unlovable because it’s inconvenient, because it’s hard, because it requires much of me. I fail to even love those closest to me well. I don’t invest the time or energy that I know I should, that I know I’m called to, that I know reflects Him.
I fall SO short.
And after realizing my own shortcomings, after labeling myself a failure, after feeling crushed under that weight, in a futile effort to regain some sense of order and control, I place unreasonable and unrealistic expectations on myself to measure up. To do better. Only to fall short again.
I first mentioned Emily P. Freeman’s book “Grace for the Good Girl” at the end of September (my first and only giveaway thus far).
It was convicting, but refreshing. Exposing, but freeing. But lately…
I find myself giving into my own good girl tendencies once again, putting them on like an old pair of jeans that just gets better with time. But as what was first comfortable and familiar wears thin, the oldness, the insecurities, the too-high expectations, the attempt at perfection, the inadequacies, the failure, the inevitable guilt all shows through.
I find myself caught up in my own self-sufficiency … because surely there’s nothing wrong with being independent, responsible, and dependable … but even in that there’s failure. What if someone realizes that it took me months to return that $160 dress that didn’t fit quite right? Will my self-sufficient, responsible image be shattered? And yet, even that is the product of an arbitrary expectation placed on myself.
So when Emily announced on her blog that she would be hosting an informal summer book club to read through and discuss this book together, I knew it was time to face the truth of its message once again.
And as I read this week, only 3 chapters in and a long way to go, once again facing these good girl tendencies head on, I was reminded that I don’t have to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I don’t have to hide behind the mask of responsibility and self-sufficiency.
Perfect isn’t real, but Jesus is.
Yes, He loves me so well, and I fall so short.
But that’s what this Grace is all about. And this Grace-Giver doesn’t command me to be perfect. He doesn’t burden me with unrealistic expectations. He doesn’t tell me to fix my flaws on my own. He invites me to come. He says to abide. He promises strength in weakness.
“Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God…” 2 Corinthians 3:5 (NASB)
Does this struggle with perfection, this struggle to meet the expectations of yourself or others resonate with you? Would you consider joining me in this summer reading?
If so, go check out Emily’s introductory post here and then go read her first official post on chapters 1-3 here from yesterday.
Then would you come back and let me know that you’re reading, so maybe we can encourage each other throughout the summer?
I can pretty much guarantee that I won’t be posting here each week about the book, but I will be joining the discussion in Emily’s comments and in the Facebook group (see her posts for more details). And of course, feel free to contact me via email or twitter anytime (see contact information in the sidebar or on the about the author page).