For as long as I can remember, I’ve had this thought running through my head: Be the best or quit trying.
I know—it sounds like a faux-inspirational quote on an athletic t-shirt. To say it out loud feels ridiculous, but still, the pressure feels real. It’s as if the things I do or accomplish define who I am, and if I can’t be great, well then, I don’t want it to be part of my identity. Because then I feel like an imposter.
No one ever told me this. No one ever expected perfection from me—except me. And I’ve chased an absurd sort of perfection for a long time—it isn’t that I need to be perfect at everything; it’s simply that I feel the need to be perfect at the things that I lean on for identity.
But God. But grace.
I’ve taught grace for a long time; I’ve understood it at the cerebral level. But to let grace into my life and allow it to redefine who I am—that’s powerful, heart-changing stuff. Grace washes through me like a deep, cleansing breath.
Jesus says in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Perfection traps; the way of Jesus liberates. I already have an identity; therefore, I am free to pursue living a life that matters, mess-ups and all.
Failures have helped me see that I can rise again and keep trying; that’s the process of doing things that matter. My dignity and worth don’t come from being the best; they are not trophies to be won. Rather, my dignity and worth are already established; they are the axiomatic foundation from which I can rest in the grace of Christ. Then, I do what He calls me to today—the outcome is the business of my sovereign God.
In His upside-down kingdom, Jesus gives me a name, a purpose, and a place before I do a thing. It’s in His name that I can use my gifts and bring a little light to the people in my world.