What are the standards that we place on our own lives that keep us from living freely?
What you believe about yourself and the standards you apply to your own life will determine whether or not you ever accept that you are enough.
To give you some back story, I have notoriously put mountains of weight on my own two shoulders, thinking it was something that was required of me.
For example, I would hear incredible stories all along my ministry school experience about the these people who would sell all of their possessions and buy a one-way plane ticket to a third-world country. They were the kind of people who would open orphanages, schools, etc., with such astounding faith that their initial lack of resources never keep them from pursuing what was on their hearts.
The types of people who somehow end up becoming wildly successful and now travel the world to tell all about it.
I would hear stories like these and return home dwelling on how I have "too many worldly attachments", how I am “too afraid” to make that same leap of faith. And in this process of self-condemnation, lies began to form in my heart that would tell me that "I cared too much about money" and how "I am too unwilling to lose everything all for the sake of the Gospel". In essence, I took these great stories of faith, rolled them up like a newspaper of my failures, and beat myself with them.
What was supposed to be an inspiration to dream bigger with God became a tremendous pressure to make it all happen for myself.
The truth is that no one ever asked me to do any of these things. However, my interpretation of the stories that were meant to be inspirational and faith-building ended up creating self-imposed pressure that instead of lifting my faith, weighed me down.
I never felt like I was doing enough.
Another example was about 7 years ago when I was living back at my parent’s house after going to Bible School and spending a summer at a missionary school in Mozambique, Africa. I came home from these experiences and started trying to settle back into my life. But instead of feeling empowered and excited about my future, I had a breakdown.
One afternoon, my mom heard me crying through my bedroom door and came into my room to find me in an emotional mess. She called for my dad and the three of us sat on the floor as I cried and apologized, saying, “I can’t save a million people, I’m sorry. I just can’t do it!”
My dad turned and looked at me and asked, “Grace, who told you that you have to save a million people?”
I took a moment, thought about it, and responded with something genuinely shocking:
The truth is that I have heard the most amazing stories of individuals having an impact on millions upon millions of people. I have been in the same room as people who have planted thousands of churches and impacted an entire country’s religious status. Those who have seen thousands of people converted in a matter of seconds, raised people from the dead and even they, themselves, been raised from the dead! I have sat in rooms, huts, and chapels with these people being told that I, too, can have this kind of impact on the world.
This information can either inspire you to go after those huge dreams in your heart, or it can completely crush you underneath the weight of what “could be.”
I let it crush me
I don’t have any answers other than this:
We live in a day where success and achievement means standing out amongst the crowd. We’re all trying to climb a ladder of social impact that feels like a never-ending cycle of highs and lows, slowly deteriorating our self-esteem. We place self-imposed standards of what we assume is required of us in order to live an “impactful” life.
I took these stories of greatness as mandates; not as inspiration. It became too much and I had to learn to agree with my heart when it was telling me that it couldn’t take any more pressure. I had to learn how to be honest with where I was at.
I had to let go.
If I can be any encouragement to you as you read this, I want to tell you that you are more valuable than the pressure you’re under. Sometimes loving yourself means saying “no” to the invitation for an opportunity that may give you more influence, but crushes your soul. Let God be God and learn to be His child.
If you have dreams like mine, it’s so important for you to know that it is up to God to see those things through. You cannot get there on your own.
Go at the pace of God
I encourage you to go at the pace of God, and if He says “run”, you better run! Because what I'm not saying here is that you should give up on those dreams that feel impossibly big. Have big dreams!! Just make sure they are dreams that God is putting in you. Because if it's God, there will be the proper grace for it.
But if He says “rest”, you need to trust that He holds your future and that He alone can make those things happen. He alone can promote you to where you need to be. And at the end of the day, you are loved just for being you because you are more than your social impact.
I’m so glad I decided to be a friend of Jesus instead of a slave (John 15:15). And I’m so glad that I decided to lay down my ego and my impossible standards, for a life that I can actually enjoy.
My new standard is to be loved.
And that’s where true life begins!