acceptance, belief, Christian Life, Christianity, devotional, doubt, faith, fear, God, hope, imitation, inspirational, Jesus, love, motivational, My Little Pony, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, perfectionism, Rainbow Dash
Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Newbie Dash”
I finally got around to reviewing this episode, and, as you can see from my recent review of it, I didn’t think too terribly highly of it. Yet the part that I commented on that was painful to watch was when Rainbow Dash, in an attempt to try and make herself stand out more among her fellow Wonderbolts and lose what she thought was a dismissive nickname, started acting like her other friends in the Mane Six. Not only did it not go over that well, but it was obvious to everyone that this wasn’t the real “her”, and in the end she wasted a lot of time trying to be someone different without really changing anything internally or externally…a lot of time that would have been better spent building relationships and connections with the rest of her new teammates. This ended up being especially true at the end when the rest of the Wonderbolts revealed how highly they thought of her and how happy they were to have her on their team, meaning all of the worrying was for nothing.
This ended up resonating with something rather personal to me that I’ve been dwelling on for quite a while. I come from a background of perfectionism. It wasn’t intentional; just something that followed as a natural consequence of how I was brought up. As I’ve said before, I was raised to develop the mind set that I could always do better and be better. Nothing was ever a result of luck, the situation, or my own talents or lack thereof. Everything was always my fault due to lack of foresight or, more often, effort. No matter what I did, the response I always got was: “Well, you could have done better if you really wanted to.” That internalized the idea that anything bad that ever happened to me was not only my fault, but was somehow done on purpose and was therefore blameworthy. Needless to say, this was a rather miserable way to spend much of my life and something I fight with to this day.
The worst part of this mindset is it’s a “warped lens” from which I distort the entire world and every aspect of my life, including Christianity. I deal with a lot of situations in which I try to participate either in Church or religious events or even in evangelism or Bible study, and I not only fall flat in many of those situations but often I sit around angry, sullen, and bitter. Sometimes I start purposely being mean or swearing at the others around me. And why?
Because I feel inferior to all of them. I feel like all of them are “real Christians” while I am a fraud or a phony. I feel like they are all saved while I’m just going through the motions. I can’t listen to any testimony or miracle without thinking I could never do anything like that or have any encounter like that. And truth be told, the few times I did I automatically dismissed those as not being real encounters or doubting the hand of God in them, because I figured that sort of thing doesn’t happen to me.
The truth is I couldn’t (and, honestly, often can’t) see God accepting me for who I am because all I can see is imperfection and flaws, while my own skewed world view only saw God as demanding and condemning. Constantly setting a perfect standard and constantly angry at those who fail to live up to it. Worse yet, I saw every sin and failure I made not only as an incident but something that defined me. If I was a real Christian, then I’d never do that and I’d love doing everything for Jesus and the Kingdom of God. It made a constant chain of feeling inadequate and lowly.
Yet in spite of these feelings, I kept going to Church and trying to get involved in aspects of ministry. I tried to sing in worship and reach out to others in the ways that seemed the most “godly”. Like Rainbow Dash, I felt if I started “acting the part” that somehow things would follow where I would actually become that sort of person and then be a “true” Christian. Of course, it never worked out that way. My bitterness and self-loathing was all still there, and eventually it would always come out.
Recently, I went to an altar call for prayer about this. Once I explained my situation and received prayer, I heard many of the things I have heard before in regards to this issue. This time, however, I tried to not only listen a bit more closely but actually believe what I was hearing, and it was simple yet very hard for people like me to accept. So if you’re like me and dealing with this same issue, I want you, like me, to listen and accept this in spite of all the voices, doubts, and fears screaming at you internally that you’re an exception.
Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross not out of any compulsion or active behavior on our part, but because He wanted to save you. He didn’t want to lump you into a “catch-all” category of mankind, nor does He smack Himself in the forehead thinking why He “wasted His time” on you when you sin. When a father or mother has a child, no matter how the child behaves there is nothing they can do or not do that breaks off the love entirely of the parent for their offspring. So much more God, who is the source of an infinitely perfect love, when he sees us. We’re not merely, as I myself have said before, “scum on the surface of a speck floating in the universe” to him. We are all more than creations. We are children of God. He not only sees value in us before we have a chance to gain it, he sees value in us when we don’t have it at all by anyone else’s standard. There’s no such thing as an individual worth less or worth more to him. We are already precious in his sight by virtue of being brought into being.
As my pastor suggested, every time that something comes up (whether from ourselves or from something more malevolent) accusing us of being inferior or not good enough, take the opportunity to stop and thank Lord Jesus for His individual sacrifice for YOU. Turn what is a time of self-doubt and hatred into a time for praising the Lord and turning sadness into joy. In that way, we “take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5) for God and train ourselves not only not to hate ourselves, but also to train our minds to see ourselves the way God sees us, and thereby be empowered to live more boldly for him.
Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for your Word. In spite of my doubts, my fears, and what the world around me says, your Word stands true and affirms your love for mankind from age to age, from now until eternity, and shall endure even if Heaven and Earth pass away. (Matthew 24:35) Help me to cling to that when lies, insults, doubts, fears, and even my own self accuse me. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”