As I mentioned in my last blog, it took a lot of convincing from the big man upstairs to get the courage to create this page. While there were numerous factors that contributed to my tentativeness, perhaps my biggest fear was the aftermath from publicizing the blog. I have a habit of allowing praise from others give me a false sense of pride. Conversely, I allow critique to make me feel completely inadequate. I knew I would somehow transform my Christ-centered blog into an intermediary liaison where I would be able to either feel affirmed or discouraged by my friends and followers through comments, likes, and favorites. In simpler words, I feared glorifying myself through glorifying God… how twisted is that.
So after letting all of the positive feedback and encouragement stroke my ego a bit, I figured what better way to slap me back down to reality and keep me grounded than to share the biggest personal setback I have in my faith- measuring my worth through my performance. Almost everything in society is measured. Our skills. Our looks. Our athletic abilities. Our status. The list could go on forever. These typically shallow measurements give light to what is perceived as right or wrong in today’s world. In a sense, all of humanity could be categorized as performers using performances to situate their stature. Now don’t get me wrong, using your God-given skills, looks, athletic abilities, or status to reach a specific outcome isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s why God blessed various people with specific gifts. But performance becomes an issue when self-motivation creeps in because it leads to one of two things: pride or inadequacy. We allow praise to build us up and we allow criticism to break us down. Therefore, we selfishly perform to obtain a reward or glory.
In the beginning, pride isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But there’s a fine line between being proud and being arrogant. For instance: I am proud to be an American, but I am not going to go into a third world country and brag about the lavish lifestyle, opportunities, and benefits that I have. I am proud to be a Lippitt, but I’m not going to go into a Foster home and whip out a scrapbook of how perfect and put together my family is. I am proud to be a Georgia Southern Eagle, but I’m not going to run around with my shirt off and celebrate if we just mercy ruled an opponent. Yes, we should have confidence in ourselves but the greater our pride grows, the less God seems in our mind.
Those of you reading who have ever participated in any sort of competitive activity with me- I’m sorry. Actually, I’m REALLY sorry. Some people tell me that I’m wee bit competitive. And those people are probably laughing that I only said a “wee bit.” The truth is, it usually takes about five minutes into a game or competition until I get wide eyed genuine looks of concern from onlookers or opponents. I take competitions too seriously. Not just in soccer, but in life. I like to win. I like to perform well. I enjoy exceeding. I thrive off of being impressive…even when it comes to the most pointless victories. For instance, the other day I beat my fifty four year old dad (sorry for saying your age) in a one-hundred yard sprint for the first time. As he limped into the finish line with a pulled quad, I couldn’t stop smiling. I’m terrible, I know. My poor dad could barely walk the next day; yet, I acted as if I had just beaten Usain Bolt. God must have been rolling his eyes at me because that night I read Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Sorry dad.
On the other side of my pride issue is the haunting emotion of inadequacy that creeps in after a loss or failure. I’ve probably cried more times due to a soccer game than any other times in my life. It’s pathetic. I allow the critiques of others stab me in the heart and in return I become my own worst critic. Unfortunately, I usually won’t even try something if I think I’ll be poor at it. Lately, I’ve really tried to break this habit, but the fear of worthlessness almost always enables me from jumping too far out of my comfort zone. As I mentioned in my last blog, I used to be terrified of praying. As I would listen to some people in my bible study group (Gabby and Syd), I legit felt as if I was being lifted up to the Heavens. Then, when it was my turn, I would focus so much on making it sound good it would end up sounding like gibberish. While praying still isn’t one of my major strengths, I’m no longer scared because I’ve finally realized that in the end, whether we’re dealing with a weakness or strength, God wants us to use our current situation to glorify Him… and to be honest, who’s going to make fun of someone’s prayers…? If you would, I don’t like you. Just kidding.
Anyways, the other day I was reading the book Love Does by Bob Goff (if you haven’t read it yet… go buy it now) and he said something that really opened my eyes. After getting fired from a job that he had worked really hard for he said, “And for me, I’ve realized that I used to be afraid of failing at the things that really mattered to me, but now I am more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.” If that quote doesn’t hit you hard then I don’t know what does.
In today’s culture we are far more concerned about succeeding in the wrong areas of life rather than the right ones. We desire wealth. A notable job and salary. The most likes on social media (guilty). The biggest house on the block. To be the stud athlete. The best blog. The best clothes. But most of all, we desire to glorify ourselves above anything else. Even God.
But let’s be real, we will NEVER measure up without God. Never. Not even Beyonce. But we will ALWAYS be able to measure up with Him. Throughout our performances, we need to keep sight of the big picture. God didn’t put me on Georgia Southern Women’s Soccer team so that I can be a super star stud and show off my lack of a left foot. He put me on the team to lead me to an amazing fellowship and for the Holy Spirit to work through me and pour into others. To represent Him through everything I do. Even losing. Trust me, it’s so much easier said than done though. More often than not, I have to remind myself that God blessed me with these specific talents and specific weaknesses for a reason. The Lord of the universe, who intricately designed the stars in the sky and the 248 muscles in a caterpillar’s head (thanks for the fact Atalia), took time to intricately design me as well. And you. So let’s stop being so narcissistic with our strengths and stop being so desolate with our weaknesses. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to work through these strengths and weaknesses to glorify the One who is worthy if all of the praise.
I know this is already ridiculously long but I have a challenge for you for this week so bear with me- we’re almost there. My awesome bible study leader Matt Wise once told us that if you’re praying for self-glory and not God’s then you’re doing something wrong. So throughout this week, I encourage you to not pray to ace a test, score a goal, or get a promotion, but instead ask Him to give you the strength to glorify him through the process.