Today I have another guest for you. I met Leanne Sype going through a Clumsy Blogger e-course this spring. I immediately connected to her style of writing and loved her message. She speaks to redemption despite our imperfections. When I heard her story and her recent recovery from anorexia, it more spoke of the journey she has gone through.
Thank you, Leanne, for joining me today. I know you will bless many.
Christian life is all about failing. What a bummer considering we live in a world where we’re pressured to strive for success.
We take quizzes, classes, and seminars to find our strengths, to find the compatible people and jobs that will help us capitalize on those strengths and ultimately lead us to great success.
We follow 7-step articles, read insights from our nation’s most successful people, and take notes from the bloggers who tell us we’re doing “it” wrong and why.
Failure is not an option in our world. If you fail, then something is wrong with you: You didn’t try hard enough; you didn’t work long enough; you gave up.
I wanted to be successful. And I certainly didn’t want to appear to have anything wrong with me. I wanted to be dependable and worthy of connection to the people around me–peers, co-workers, clients, family, friends, and people with whom I wanted to be friends.
I turned to perfectionism, striving (and succeeding) to promote and capitalize on my strengths, and making sure my weaknesses remained hidden, unless I was in a class focused on strengthening them. Weakness is a source and/or sign of failure in our culture; no way was I going to let myself be or seem weak.
God redirected my course when I found myself facing harsh intervention for anorexia, a deadly symptom of my perfectionism.
God stripped me of all my successes leaving only the weaknesses showing. He asked me to give up my business, my writing, my activities, my friends, my family and my time. All I had left was God, my kids and husband, and a closet full of fears, insecurities, disillusionments, judgements, and selfishness.
He blew the closet door wide open so I was completely exposed. Then God said to me, “Leanne, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Friends, there is no room for God’s power to work when we’re striving to find and use our strengths.
Stuffing our weaknesses into hiding or forcing them to be stronger diminishes the power of God. It’s no skin off God’s back, though. We’re the ones who suffer… in the stress, the fatigue, the anxiety, the uncertainty, and the fear that we aren’t successful enough, good enough, and worthy enough.
When my physical body was healed from the eating disorder, God released me back into the world with a new mission: no more perfectionism.
He sent me back out to my friends, peers, church, family, and community clothed in my weaknesses and the call to share my story. I write and speak publicly, sharing how things have gone horribly wrong for me, and how God comes in to make things exactly right despite the failures.
This is SO hard for me—to walk the talk without the crutch of perfectionism. I have wobbly legs and fall down constantly… in front of people! Just yesterday I came home from Taekwondo class in devastated tears, accepting that I am never going to be a high-performance black belt student.
I have been working my butt off the last year and a half trying, trying, trying, to perfect my form and technique, only to consistently hear my training master (respectfully) convey that I am still not getting it.
But, God revealed to me that I am beautifully clumsy and awkward… and that’s okay.
No matter what the expectations are from my Taekwondo master, my best is good enough because I am a student and daughter of the Master in heaven.
It’s a hard and sorrowful truth for a recovering perfectionist to understand she’ll fail to meet people’s expectations. God adores my tears because my acceptance of failure in the Taekwondo studio brings me successfully deeper into His kingdom. What a clever and holy training ground God has made the Taekwondo dojang.
Weakness is failure to our people, but it’s the source that connects us with God and His perfect power.
I can’t think of a bigger example of failure than Jesus Christ. His work landed him exposed, weakened, and killed on the Cross. But it was His failure on earth that ultimately led to His glory in Heaven.
“Therefore,” says Paul, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Failure is not an option; it’s the best option to experience the peace Christian life really offers. That’s a painful truth to swallow isn’t it? Oh, but what a lovely release from the pressure of striving for earthly success and into the restful life of the kingdom.
You don’t need any more tests, seminars, and classes about capitalizing on your strengths. Instead seek the faith and courage to embrace your weaknesses and accept failure so God’s strength—power—can be made perfect through you.
Leanne Sype is a writer-mama of two kids, wife of a sports enthusiast, and servant to three elderly cats. She loves Jesus, writing, and red wine and is likely to be a downer if she doesn’t get at least little of all three in her day; if she can only pick one, then she picks Jesus. You can find her ruminations about real-life, recovery, and God prosaically expressed on her blog at leannsype.com.