In my previous article I discussed how anxious I was about an event I was preparing for. I fussed about whether the ladies I would be hosting would like my choice of food, décor, activities and background music. However, what I was truly anxious about was that who I am, and what I had prepared were not going to be impactful or inspiring to my audience. I went overboard in my preparation but on the day my plan took the backseat and God led the way.
Now, a few weeks later, I am happy to report the event was a success. The ladies enjoyed the experience and I have had very positive feedback from them saying that it was a very beautiful, impactful and an inspiring experience. One person in particular, whose feedback I was the most nervous about, told me ‘I had high expectations, and they were exceeded’.
After going through much anxiety about this event, worried about whether or not I could succeed at my passion, despite all my weaknesses and shortcomings, I came to realise the root of most of my fear and anxiety is not living up to people’s expectations. These range from spoken expectations to those I imagine people have of me. I am learning though that most of the time my imagination is far from accurate. I tend to be hard on myself, and I am rarely satisfied with the things I do. Even when I receive praise, it always feels like I could have done better.
God has emphasized the importance of me ‘being’ over me ‘doing’, even though in the eyes of ‘the world’ you are ‘only as good as your last job’.
Our worth becomes so tied up in what we do, that when we lose it or fail at it, our entire identity is threatened. I would like to suggest that failure is not just based on the fear of not living up to our potential, but also on what others will think of us when we do fail.
People see what they want to see, but also what we allow them to see. There are many reasons as to why people see in part, which is why they cannot be our primary affirmers in life. We rarely ever see things the same. I could be the best writer to one group of people, the worst to another and just average to others.
Most people have their own anxious thoughts which act as a filter through which they see and receive things. What we need is the discernment to know what to do, wisdom to know how and when to do it and the courage follow through with it.
It is always easier to pray for courage to do things. But I have had moments where I clearly felt the Lord instruct me not to do something I had been asked to do and it required a lot of courage for me to obey Him. This forced me to face my fear of disappointing people, which I have only been able to do by reminding myself that God is the main authority over my life. If there is anyone I should fear to disappoint, it is Him. The Bible is clear that I can only have one master, and He is the one I have chosen.
‘Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast your anxiety on Him for He cares for you’ 1 Peter 5: 6-7 (NIV)
I want to reach the point in my life where all that matters is what God thinks, because it is Him who not only knows my potential, but who also knows when I have given it my best. He knows the battles I have had to fight physically, spiritually and mentally just to get to where I am. He knows the obstacles I have faced, and what it took for me to overcome them. He lifted me up then, and He can do it again.
No one is perfect. We all fall short, disappoint each other or miss each other’s needs more often than we realise. This does not mean we should just throw our hands in the air and give up. It just means we need to be graceful towards ourselves and others. To know that we are never alone, for we have a mighty Father who gives us the ability to do the things He has called us to do.
‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’.Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
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