Somewhere between 6:30 and 7 am this morning, my son-in-law appeared holding my little wrapped burrito (aka grandson Finn), asking if I minded looking after him while my daughter got more rest. My moment had come! Two weeks away from my grandson was long enough. I was looking forward to being able to hold him and remind him of all the important things he may have forgotten while I was away on my recent trip. “Momma loves you; Daddy loves you; GiGi loves you; Padjy loves you…” (I won’t bore you with the whole list.) The Bible study I already began would have to wait. After rocking my sweet baby until his face resembled a sleeping angel, my mind wandered back to the abandoned Bible study in the other room. I considered whether I should risk disturbing my little burrito in order to retrieve my book. Or my phone. Heck, what about my laptop? I mean, I had planned to do some writing after the Bible study. At this rate, I was going to be way off schedule. Perhaps I should grab the laptop and see if I could type some words with one hand. As if on cue, familiar thoughts started to flood my mind in rapid succession: “You have A LOT to do today…You are already behind…You’re never going to get this book finished….” It went on. As I felt the tiniest twinges of anxiety begin to appear—still far enough away enough to ignore yet begging to be acknowledged—I glanced down at my sleeping angel. I wondered what it was like to be blissfully ignorant of to-dos and dilemmas. Suddenly (and rather surprisingly), God hijacked my growing anxiety by thrusting me back into the Bible study I had abruptly abandoned. The revelation I just received couldn’t have caught me more off guard—I was in the middle of a full-blown temptation.
Let me explain. Before the angel burrito (👆🏻) showed up this morning, I was thinking about how I would answer the question in my study manual: “What temptation do you find yourself struggling with?” Hmmmm…Lust? No. Power? No. Bread? No. (I just eat it without a second thought.) Instead of those things, God showed me that one of my personal temptations is to believe the (very familiar) lie that I have to do stuff to be accepted and acceptable. In many ways, this was no surprise to me.
Achievement/performance orientation/perfectionism (whatever you want to call it) was something I struggled with most of my life. The only thing is, I thought I was over it. That is until this morning—when I was caught red-handed trying to figure out a way to hold a sleeping baby with one hand and type on my computer with the other. My deep desire to hold my little grandson while I told him about all the people who loved him was interrupted by the devil himself whispering in my ear that it was time to get moving. Sheesh. Unlike Jesus, who not only recognized when He was being tempted but knew how to combat it, it took a not-so-subtle hint from the Holy Spirit for me to recognize what was happening. Left to my own devices, I would have been writing this post with one finger and a sleeping baby on my lap. Lord, help me.
The temptation to “do” versus “be” reflects the battle for my identity—and maybe yours. Put another way, it is a battle over who we are. Jesus faced this battle himself when he was tempted during His time in the wilderness. The devil questioned His identity when he said, “If you are the son of God…” (Matt 4:6). Our temptation is the same. Will we be lured into believing that we must achieve a certain standard or perform at a particular level to be accepted as God’s son or daughter? When I look at life from that perspective, I acknowledge that this is a temptation that I face over and over again.
However, from God’s perspective, the very question is ludicrous. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). God affirms that we’re completely loved just as we are. We don’t need to do anything to earn God’s acceptance—in fact, we can’t. Jesus himself was affirmed as God’s beloved son before He performed one miracle or preached his first sermon. As I look at the face of precious Finn, I am reminded that he has done nothing to earn his parent’s complete and utter adoration. The same is true for us. (Is anyone else hearing Billy Joel singing “Just the Way You Are” right now, or is that just me?🤷🏻♀️)
“This is my beloved son in whom I’m well pleased” (Matt 3:17)
It’s important to note that although God loves and accepts us as we are, that doesn’t mean He wants us to stay as we are. In other words, He wants us to be restored to live our lives in freedom from bondage whether to sin, addiction, or perfectionism and performance orientation. Jesus died and rose again so that we, too, could die to all the hindrances which keep us on the hamster wheel of “life as normal.” (This includes disassociating or checking out on devices. More on that next week.) Let’s not be tempted into believing the lie that our patterns of thinking and behaving will never change. That is not true. Although I was tempted to revert to old ways of behaving this morning, I could see it for what it was: temptation. That is all. Although I am a work in progress, I know who I am. For the moment, that is GiGi, grandma to Finn and beloved daughter of God. ❤️
STAY TUNED: Next week, I’ll continue with this topic and include some practical steps to take to move into your true identity. In the meantime, please share your thoughts, comments, or struggles below. I’d love to hear from you!