Here is the deal. As great as various advice can be…broken man can’t fix broken man.
My friend Elyse says it perfectly in her book, Good News for Weary Women:
Whenever we internalize the “helpful advice” of our Facebook friends, our Pinterest pals, the news nannies, or the latest “Christian self-help” books, or when we listen to our own legalistic hearts, there are only two possible outcomes: either we’ll get angry with others who don’t work as hard as we do, or we’ll get angry with others who don’t work as hard as we do or we’ll give up in despair and sadness thinking we’ll never make the grade.
All these rules, no matter where they come from, are merely tools of our enemy to take our focus off Christ and put it on ourselves. The message of different or better rules is not what any of us need to hear, because rules cannot change our hearts. We need to hear the good news of a perfect Man who obeyed the only rule that mattered, the law of love, who swept away every superfluous “tip for a better life” and fulfilled the law perfectly in our place.
We can certainly be there for each other, and lift each other up, but there isn’t a human alive that can truly help me change, and that includes myself. If this was the case, there wouldn’t still be millions of self-help books still on the shelves. Counselors would be out of business.
We clearly need help, because we are as frustrated as ever. Maybe becoming a better person shouldn’t be the goal. Maybe we need to find our identity in the best Person, and let Him work on our hearts and lives.
The Good News, is Jesus is holding that place of perfection for us, so the pressure is off. This means I am free to walk, stumble, fall, forward all the whole trusting that God is refining me slowly but surely. I look at myself now and can easily find a billion things I want to change, but I look back and realize how very much I have grown in many areas, and I have this sneaky feeling: I had little to do with it. In fact, I have even fought against it.
So this means the diets, the bible reading plans, the chore charts, the menu plans—they will all betray you.
What you can count on, is that you will flip-flop between being very proud of your efforts, and feeling like you are the biggest failure ever to walk God’s green earth. So your worth has to be measured on a different scale. Your righteousness is in Christ. It’s not in your parenting skills, your career, your cute house…it’s in Christ.
I told a friend recently that I was pretty sure I didn’t have it in me to accomplish all of the things coming at me with the new school year. I am feeling burned out and I haven’t even STARTED. Then I realized, “Oh wait, I don’t have it in me. And when I am weak, I am more likely to just lean on God, not myself. Maybe this is a good place to be in.”
Elyse makes a great point in telling us that while we are striving to do well, we are likely to fall into sin. Namely, pride. It tempts us to judge others harshly against our own efforts. If we are so good, why do we even need a Savior?
I have been in this place, and it is never pretty. The last thing I want to do is to show the world I have it all together. Nobody would want to be my friend. Who wants Wonder Woman and Martha Stewart as best buddies? No thanks. Give me the friend who is honest in her struggles any day. Let’s be lame together, and let God work. Step over that laundry, and sit and have coffee with me while I tell you what a wreck I am. Now that is the making of a great friendship.
So resist the temptation to follow the rules. Resist the temptation to flog yourself for breaking them. Rest in the Good News, which is your only way through pride AND despair. Just rest in who you are, and who God is making you to be.