This might sound pretty dumb to some of you, but one of the biggest things that I struggle with in my own life is remembering that I’m human.
“WHAT? How is that even possible???” is what some of you might be thinking. But somehow, throughout the years and different experiences I’ve had in my life, I’ve set such high expectations for myself and my abilities that I’ve built up this wall in my heart and in my head that cuts me off from having grace for myself in the simple fact that I am human. But obviously, I’m human and I fail and I mess up and I fall short of perfection…every day, just like everyone else. When I fail, it’s the thoughts of “How? How could you be so dumb? How could you be so foolish and flawed?” that seems to nag at and taunt me for a while until I get so exhausted with having to deal with those thoughts and feelings that I push them way down deep in my heart so that I don’t have to deal with them anymore. Unfortunately, in my immature and ignorant ways of critical thinking, I’ve only created more hurt for myself in the long run, because things don’t “go away” until you deal with them. It is because of my inability to process through and look at my failure head-on that I create a negative and self-seeking passion and drive in myself to never let anyone see me fail, in any capacity, since I can’t even stand to see myself fail; because “How embarrassing would that be? How imperfect?“…
Now the crappiest (am I allowed to say crappiest?) part about this is that I have plenty of grace for other people. They can cause hurt, pain, and disappointment all they want, and you know what? I’m going to have grace for them because they’re human, and no one is perfect. No one. Except for me, and I cannot fail because there’s no grace for me; those are the lies that I’ve been living my life in accordance with. But how? How could I let myself get to this point in my life and in my thinking that I actually lived my life in accordance with the lie that there’s no grace for me? And it’s at this season in my life that I feel God addressing this issue and saying, “Aren’t you tired, Shannon? I don’t want you to carry this burden of false freedom anymore. I want you to live a life of freedom where you aren’t fearful of making a mistake. Everyone does, and it’s ok. It doesn’t change My love for you, and it never will.” And somehow, within these sweet truths that the Lord whispers to my soul, I still feel myself resisting God to transform my heart and heal me from all of my people-pleasing and perfectionist ways. But why? Why don’t I want to be healed and whole? That has been the question I’ve been struggling with.
It has been through my struggle and wrestling with this question that I’ve come to learn that it’s my fear of being rejected that keeps me from experiencing the grace of God. I want to be loved and accepted by every single person that comes into my life, and if I’m not–what kind of a person am I? Why wouldn’t someone like me? This wrong thinking has resulted in restricted living, and opinions and feelings that I claim, but are not my own. What started with the purest intentions of wanting to be a kind and fun person, has resulted in a distorted character that refuses grace, and that is not what a child of God does.
Getting to know myself for who the Lord has created me to be and accepting myself for my human, natural shortcomings has been harder and more humbling than I can say, but it has been the most amazing process and journey I could ask to be on. I have learned more about the Lord and relying on who He is and not what I can do than I could sit here and tell you. All I can encourage you to do is to get to know yourself more. Set aside time to spend time with just you and God. Do what you love, do what you hate; figure out what makes you, you. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be humbling–but there is no greater privilege of getting to know the Artist of your life than by studying the unique and intentional art He has created.
And it’s in the sacred times, my secret places, that God continues to reassure and reaffirm me by whispering ever so gently to my heart… “It’s ok. Take a deep breath and rest in your weakness. Rest in your humanness. Rest in my strength and perfection. My yoke is easy, and my burden is light. It’s ok. I love who you are, for all that you are; flaws and all.”
words by Shannon Dunn and photo by Sara Pritchard