"Each and every one of us has our own story to tell about the problem of Performance-based Acceptance." - Paul Anderson-WalshThis post is part of a synchroblog today (see original details here), in which I've invited whoever wants to to write about their own issues with Performance-Based Acceptance in their lives. If you post your own story, I invite you to come back here to this post and link to your story in the comments section, or email me with your link, so I can write a new blog post that links to the various stories.
One thing that I'm very thankful for is that I've never felt the pressure to perform in front of my parents. I've always felt accepted and loved by them, even when I got into the worst trouble as a teenager and even when my choices as an adult haven't been the wisest. I think it's my parents' unconditional love and acceptance of me that has helped me to understand and to better appropriate God's unconditional love and acceptance of me, and that has helped me to grow in my love and acceptance of other people.
But even with all this, the story I have to tell has to do with a roller coaster period in my life in which I dealt with a very bad perception of how God viewed me. It was a perception of Him in which I was constantly struggling with thoughts and fears that I wasn't performing well enough for Him. Believe it or not... ha ha... all this began to happen when I entered into the wonderful world of the evangelical/pentecostal church! But with that said, I must also say that I'm not knocking any church or any individual person or people. That's not my intent here. I'm just telling my story of how my deeper performance-based acceptance issues came about - and I'll also tell how I've overcome.
A lot of wonderful things did happen in that setting. I really did learn a lot about Christ and about the power of the Holy Spirit, etc. But my issues with performance-based acceptance grew quickly there, and it really overshadowed all of the other stuff that I was learning. The sermons, the studies, the songs, the prayers, the outreaches, the activities, the services... just about everything... was all focused on doing. It was all focused on me living for God. It was all based upon me putting forth my best effort to live the life - my level of performance in front of a perfect God. At times I actually thought I was doing pretty well! Those were also the times that I looked down the most on others who I didn't think were performing as well as me.
Most of the time, though, I lived with a constant cloud of guilt and fear over me. I often felt as if I would never get this Christian life right. How many times I questioned my salvation! I simply never felt that I measured up to what I believed was "the standard" of the Christian life. But oh... my flesh could sure get pumped up! I would hear a motivating sermon, or I would attend a fiery weekend retreat, and I'd be ready to take on the world for JE-sus!!! On Sunday morning I'd be clapping my hands and praising the Lord, shouting and singing out loud, having shed ALL remnants of my sad and sorry non-performing life!!!
And then Monday came.
Back to mediocrity, with the fire all gone. How it was put out so quickly.
Well, that's just the nutshell version of my story. But it was a very real roller coaster ride that repeated itself over and over again, in various forms, and it was sad and depressing.
I do remember when things began to turn around, though. I remember the words that were spoken to me that changed my life forever. It was sometime in 1995 I think, and I had been working for a while at a radio station where the program director, Mike "Kap" Kapler (who you now know as my Growing in Grace cohost) had been sharing with me bits and pieces of the things he'd been learning at a church here in town that had recently begun preaching a solid message of God's unconditional love and grace. Of the words that Kap spoke to me, these particular words jumped out at me and grabbed a hold of me like nothing before:
"God isn't angry with you."
You know, I hadn't even necessarily looked at God as being angry with me. But yet I had been wallowing around in so much guilt and fear, from feeling as if I wasn't ever going to perform well enough for Him, that those words caused this very heavy weight and burden to suddenly be lifted off of me!! I mean, it was immediate and very noticeable to me. It's not as if I was completely "cured" right away, but it was a very effective jump-start to a life of learning my true identity in Christ, and who God really is and how He really views me! His view of us is never based upon our performance. It's all based upon His unconditional love. He is love.
Your turn! I'd love to hear your story, and I'm sure others would love to as well! Remember, link to your story here or email me and I'll include your link in another blog post with all the other stories.