Posts Tagged ‘performance orientation’

I have a friend whose life phrase is “live loved” which she has adopted from the God Journey folks. It deeply resonates because of its simplicity and promise that we are loved and called to do the same for others.

Ephesians 5:2-3
Be imitators of God, a therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

It’s a two way process actually, but substantially begins with being loved (or recognizing that we are loved). Usually, we experience this love first as small children in the home. The better our parents were at loving and creating security in love, the better start we have. If that love is absent, then the search is on. We all search because we all know, inherently, that we are creatures of love. It is part of our DNA.

So much of what we do as young adults and teenagers is asking, “do you still love me?” If the answer appears to be “no,” then the search for “feeling loved” expands further. And if there is no model for being loved, the chance of picking up a counterfeit increases exponentially.

Although my father loved me, his age and alcoholism prevented him from being consistent. As a child, I forgave him everything (as children do), until he died when I was nine, and my heart interpreted that as the greatest betrayal of love ever. My mother, handicapped by her own losses and mental instabilities, did the best she could, but her love always seemed to carry a proviso, a burden, a condition.

So, I performed well to merit love, from her, from my friends, from the men in my life. I became an expert chameleon, the consummate actress in life as well as on the stage. Theater and acting seemed like the perfect solution: applause equaled love. All the while asking, am I worth loving now?

Even when I met God in Christ, I was still programmed to perform and earn love. I worked through the motions and the rules. I went to church. I married a Christian man. I wore Jesus jewelry and talked the Jesus talk. I lifted up my hands at the right times and depending on the setting, I danced and swayed.

Similar to the Verizon commercial, my heart would say, “Do you love me now?”

But with each year of performing, the mistakes piled up as well. There was that inner critique, the reviewer whose assessment was always harsh and blistering.

When was the release moment? I can’t really say. I think it started when I learned about “performance-orientation” from Elijah House. And then, from there, a counselor helped me accept the truth of Romans 8:1 (Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus . . . ). And eventually, I came to really believe God loved me, failures, disappointments, and all.

And only then, I will truthfully say, did my journey to love God back begin in earnest. Only then, did I understand and experience freedom in my faith.

And what does loving God look like? I’m pretty sure it’s loving others and letting them love me. Today. I’ll start with today.

(Fast Day 2)

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Interesting concept really, to be mutually dependent. Think about it: we assume a dependent person needs or relies on someone else for protection or caregiving, or knowledge even. But mutual vulnerability implies that each person has his/her own set of weaknesses and strengths, both needed and provided by one another.

Romans 12:4-5
For as in one physical body we have many parts (organs, members) and all of these parts do not have the same function or use, so we, numerous as we are, are one body in Christ (the Messiah) and individually we are parts one of another [mutually dependent on one another].

This basic idea is the foundation of teams in the workplace. The combination of skills and strengths leads to higher levels of understanding and success. God is asking no less of the body of Christ. Unfortunately, many of us tend to sit back and allow others to do their thing while we absorb all their good stuff, giving little of what we are good at doing back.

Churches are filled with folks who show up regularly on Sunday mornings but rarely extend themselves beyond the pew. So many of us make excuses as we watch talented folks sing, preach, play instruments, run committees, and lead classes. We tell ourselves we have no abilities in those areas and therefore, nothing more can be demanded. But what are we good at doing?

I know there is an entire teaching on those verses about being strong in weakness [II Corinthians 12:10] and how God will give us what we need if we step up to the plate. And I don’t really disagree. However, I also think we may be missing something valuable in the church: taking advantage of the gifts people do have, gifts that may not seem useful at first blush but could be used creatively for the body of Christ.

Church life is so locked up in tradition; sometimes there’s little room for innovation and creativity. More than likely, where I am weak, there is someone else who is strong. And where I am strong, it is up to me to offer those strengths for the edifying of those who are weak.

People think of me as strong, but truthfully, I am not “all that.” There are many places and times where I am foolish and insecure, just like anyone else. I am lonely and do not have many close friends. I am a spendthrift and spend money on the wrong things. I make quick judgments. I fill my schedule to overflowing, doing too many things acceptably well, but not really well. I am performance-oriented and put high expectations on those around me. But I am also funny and energetic. I like to draw people together. I like to be the hostess. I like to plan events and watch others enjoy the fruits of those labors. I am smart enough to enjoy reading, studying, and observing others. I love change and new things. I enjoy being with people. I enjoy teaching what I know and writing. I enjoy discovery. But I am not particularly spontaneous because I am also fearful of making mistakes. I can be a control freak. But I can also create something out of nothing.

These are my “I am’s” today.

But, there are people around me who are strong in my weak areas. I want to reach out to them and allow myself to be weak with them. I want to be part of the balance in the body of Christ.

I surrender that part of myself today that has been hiding. It’s time.

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