Jul 8, 2015

journal of a miss to mrs // the three P i'm fighting

I'll be honest with y'all . . . this engagement season has been hard (part one). Along with all the busy wedding planning with roughly three months left till the Big Day, packing up my belongings to move half-way across the country (and all the emotions that come along with leaving family, friends, and the beautiful Pacific NW!), finding a job (and getting my nursing licenses transferred to Texas first), and all of the other normal day-to-day things like my car needing new tires and bills that need to get paid, there have been some long-standing things that have wormed their way into this season. 

People-pleasing, perfection-seeking, and productivity-worshipping.  
These are the three Ps that I am trying to diligently and intentionally fight against in my engagement season. They each hold the possibility of stealing away peace, rest, and joy in this (as well as any other!) season, and I desire eyes that are acutely aware of the first hints of any of these three.

People-pleasing and perfection-seeking.
I have always struggled with accepting and trusting in the love of others, and ultimately the love of God. This led me to strive to attain love from others by my own efforts. I wanted approval and appreciation. As a teenager, I equalled my worth to my grades at school and status as an honor roll student. Whenever that was threatened with a poor result on a test or project, I was devastated. As I grew, the people-pleasing changed faces but was always dreadful and sapped me of strength as I tried and tried, but so often fell short of my own expectations. In this way, perfection-seeking and people pleasing were tightly interwoven in my life. I didn't really see them as detrimental as they truly are, because it is socially acceptable and encouraged to get along with others, just as it also is encouraged to pursue excellence. But, my propensity for people-pleasing and perfection-seeking went beyond what was healthy and only led to exhaustion, anxiety, and fear that I was not ever going to be good enough. I struggled with my identity whenever I wasn't up to par with expectations I set for myself that were unrealistic.  

Once I realized the death-grip both perfection-seeking and people-pleasing held on me, I was determined to be freed from their hold. About 3.5 years ago, I worked through a lot of lies I believed about my worth and about God's character that I had believed for many years. These lies were rooted in a mistrust in God's personal love for me, which then led to so much trying (trying to make people like and love me as well as trying to get as close to perfection as I could). I started living out the truth that God does not see me as worthy of His love because of anything I have done, but because of His love for me. He gave me worth even when I was at my worst and had nothing to offer. It was as if scales fell off my eyes during that season and I started to see how much of my life was dictated by these miserable two Ps of people-pleasing and perfection-seeking. 

Now, as a fiancee to an amazing man, the temptation for these two Ps return every now and then, bringing up familiar pain and stress in their wake. The ability to please everyone with every single detail of the wedding planning is impossible, but I would try and try until I would unconsciously place Greg's opinion or wishes on the back burner. Similarly, I added stress as I placed unrealistic expectations of our wedding. I wanted (and if I am honest, still want) a perfect wedding. I don't know if that even exists on this side of heaven, because I hear every wedding has some glitch in a way or another, but I was determined to plan and work to make our wedding as close as I could get. And understandably, that's exhausting and ridiculous, but social media like Pinterest makes it so easy believe otherwise. I want to believe that our wedding may not be perfect, but if it primarily displays the best Love there is, God's love for us by sending Jesus to die for us, then it's going to be amazing.

Yes, I want the  flowers to be amazing (and you better believe they will be. My florist is super talented!)  the food to taste delicious, guests to feel welcomed and appreciated, and my dress and makeup to be stellar…  BUT I want God's love for Greg and me --  both of us sinners who were lavished with God's love and made new by this great and unfailing love -- to be the main display that day. Greg and my love for each other are secondary when we look at the big picture of the gospel because the gospel is the reason we are able to love each other. When I think of it this way, little glitches or things that don't come out as initially expected will hopefully be forgotten and dismissed in my mind. 

The first two Ps lead me to the third: Productivity-worshipping. Here's something about me: I love goals. No, really, I love goals. I love checking off boxes on my Evernote to-do lists. I love feeling accomplished and productive. It's a good feeling, right? And while I believe there definitely is wisdom in productivity overall, it is possible for productivity to become an idol that in a sense is worshipped. Does that seem a bit severe, maybe? Well, one red flag for me is when I am having a much-awaited FaceTime date with Greg and all that I can think about is the email I need to write, the book I need to finish reading and review, the meeting I need to schedule. Rather than investing in my relationship, I am choosing to allow the satisfaction (and pride?) of completing a task in an effort of being productive to override and take priority over time with my fiancĂ© and other close people in my life. An email, meeting, or book will never and should never take priority over my desire to love Greg or anyone else but I need to show this by my actions through intentionally pursuing them, actively listening,  and giving my undivided attention.

Even more so, I do not want to allow productivity to every take away time away from studying the Bible and I have noticed that I am leaving my devotional time at the end of the night when I am exhausted from a day of busyness or forgetting it altogether on some nights. A few days of this and I realize I am sapped of strength and little things stress me out more than usual. Without Biblical truth entering my mind and heart daily, I start to crumble under the weight of all that needs to get done and before I know it, I am trying out of my own strength to get it all done and am left utterly exhausted. In this season more than ever, I can echo the psalmist saying "as the deer longs for the water, so my soul longs for You, O God" (Psalm 42:1). I want my time in prayer, Bible study, and worshipping through music to always take priority over any other task that needs to get done during the day. 

I am nowhere near being completely free of these terrible Ps, but I believe the first step is realizing there is a problem in the first place rather than denying or turning a blind eye. Accountability also goes a long way. It is so helpful (but so hard to hear as well!) when Greg lovingly approaches me about something that is stemmed in either people-pleasing, perfection-seeking, or productivity-worshipping. It stings to be corrected. But I desire to daily ask God for His search-light to scan around my heart and mind for unhealthy thoughts that I am leaning towards. It is also a wonderful reminder of God's unfailing love and grace, that even when I fall into these traps again and hurt myself (and others in the process), I can be forgiven and the slate can be made clean. Greg has been an awesome picture of God's grace in the ways he forgives me wholeheartedly. 

I am loved first and foremost my God, but also by a man who reflects God's love in an intentional and beautiful way. I am abundantly and extravagantly loved. I am pausing as I type this, because the gravity of those words are what my heart needs to trust and live as if they are true. And because I am abundantly and extravagantly loved, I do not need to attain the world's approval. I do not need to seek perfection in my own works. And I certainly do not need to equate my usefulness or worth with how much I do each day or how many check-boxes I can cross off. Instead, I can (and desire so much!) to rest in the Love that will not let me go. I want to draw strength from the Love that has held me up during various trials. I want to be confident in the Love that will not fail, desert, or let go of me. Praise Jesus, the Love that won at the Cross and still wins every single day.

  1. O Love that wilt not let me go,
    I rest my weary soul in thee;
    I give thee back the life I owe,
    That in thine ocean depths its flow
    May richer, fuller be.
  2. O Joy that seekest me through pain,
    I cannot close my heart to thee;
    I trace the rainbow through the rain,
    And feel the promise is not vain,
    That morn shall tearless be.
  3. O Cross that liftest up my head,
    I dare not ask to fly from thee;
    I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
    And from the ground there blossoms red
    Life that shall endless be.
    (George Mattheson)

    (lilac from Hulda Klager Lilac Farm in April)


  1. So beautiful and honest ! Thank you for sharing and reminding me that what truly matters is how God sees us , loves us and sustains us:)

  2. I so enjoyed reading your candid words. Praying for you both that in this hectic season, His peace & calm would let you two see the beauty of the right now.


I love to hear your thoughts!

Elle Alice