04 November 2012

Expectations and Perfectionism; Grace and Let Go

I’m a Passionate, Dreamer kind of girl, with a wild imagination, high expectations and seldom satisfied with second best.

When I was a young girl my Mother believed I could do anything. I was told I had a high IQ, and soon what was expected from me, became my inner motivation to be the best.  I only needed to put my everything into whatever I wanted to achieve and accomplished more than the average.  

Sadly, it didn’t turn out to be the case.  Though I worked very hard, often paying the high price of sacrificing fun and social activities, I ended up to be just your average student. Over the years a pattern was established. I couldn’t put off these high expectations, this urge to be perfect, but was always aware that I will most properly not succeed. 

Expectation is a set up for disappointment. 

My battle with conflicting emotions was an ongoing process: I was an Opportunist, with this very real underlying pessimism.  As a result I was constantly disappointed in myself, giving place to a low self esteem. 

Whenever opportunity knocked at my door, I would rush in with wild ideas and great expectation, reaching for the perfect outcome. 

Then a wave of incompetence, doubt and hesitation would gush over me, leaving me almost paralyzed from my own insecurity.

Over the years, under the loving, steady, believing influence of my husband, I learned to suppress the emotions of insecurity and low self-esteem. I drew strength from his trust in me as a Human being, created in the image of our God, walking in the calling of my life.

But, I never got delivered from the monsters of perfectionism, expectations and low self-esteem each time I failed. As soon as life got hard, making unexpected twists and turns, I would have to fight the battle of worthlessness, despair and anger; trust leaking out like water in a broken vessel. 

Then a year ago I was challenged to read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts

I was introduced to the amazing wonder of naming the things I’m thankful off. Living in Eucharisteo

Eucharisteo - thanksgiving - always precedes the miracle, and I experienced it.  

But there was another layer. 

I had to read all the way to the ninth chapter. It caught me totally by surprise! 
“Expectations kill relationships”

Ann Voskamp shares about her valley wise and grief traveled mother: 

“I’ve known expectations as a disease, silent killer heaping her burdens on the shoulders of a relationship until a soul bursts a pulmonary and dies.”

Isn’t this so true? 

My expectation in a situation, in people, in God, constantly robbed me from simply receiving what is gracefully offered to me by a Gracious, loving God. 

Often these expectations are birthed in self - demanding my will; the belief that I deserve more. Simply put - pride.

And I read the convicting words:

“Only self can kill joy” 
“The demanding of my own will is the singular force that smothers out joy - nothing else.”
“Pride slays thanksgiving, … A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.”

And I had to let go. I had to let go of expectations, my will and everything I thought I deserved. 

And I read more:
“Is it only when our lives are emptied that we’re surprised by how truly full our lives were? Instead of filling with expectations, the joy-filled expect nothing - and are filled.” 
“Thankfully, God never gives what is deserved, but instead, God graciously, passionately offers gifts…”

I had to face the truth:

It is all grace. 

It has nothing to do with how good or bad I am and when I fail I’m worthless and a failure. I have to open my hands and let go, and only when I open my hands and let go of ME, will I be able to receive. 

And I’m in desperate need to receive.


And extend it to myself.

And this is why Counting the Gifts is slowly changing my life. I’m not nearly there. I’m a doer, I’m always on the hurry. Being in a hurry, running for the next best thing, kills my joy in the moment.  But when I count the gifts, I stop and realize, Life is not an Emergency (Ann Voskamp). My life is filled to the brim with God’s Gifts to me, gifts of grace.

And as the end of this year is drawing near, 2012 which I called Eucharisteo, I’m thinking of next year.

Possibly the year of Grace?

But not only to myself, also extending grace to my love ones - to everyone around me.

Because, I’m a work in progress…

With much love

My Conviction:
“...the secret of joy’s flame: 
Humbly let go
Let go of trying to do (my expectations);
 let go of trying to control (this control freak);
let go of my own way (my perfectionism); 
let go of my own fears (not trusting God, because expectations kill relationships - especially with God.)”  
Ann Voskamp, italics my words added.

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