I have realized over the last few days how "extreme" I am. And, I don't mean that I am sky diving, cliff jumping, or anything like that. What I mean is, that I tend to have an "all or nothing" attitude and view on life. I am either succeeding or failing, life is either great or terrible, and on and on. I am, to quote a friend, the "queen of extremes."
This way of thinking for me really hit home for me at the end of the week last week. Someone I have been interested in is not interested in me. I did not lose any weight last week at my Weight Watchers meeting. Those two things, to me, equaled utter and complete failure. Or, at least that's how I saw them.
Now, I know sometimes an all or nothing attitude can be a real strength. I tend to sell out and commit myself whole-heartedly to people and things. When I love, I love deeply. When I care, I care passionately. When I do something, I do it with abandonment. But, when I apply that mentality to evaluating my success or failure at something, that's when it goes all awry. I can see how the enemy would twist a strength of my character and turn it into something ungodly.
After all, God created me to be this way, it is His design that I would be a zealous and determined person. I can also see how a blanket application of that way of thinking is leading me down a road I am not meant to go. After all, when I judge myself as failing, whose standards am I using? Certainly not the Lord's as it is clear in the Word that He uses all things for the good of those called according to His purpose. I am called, and so there is no such thing as failure in the Lord's economy. And, if I succeed, is it by my own strength that I have acheived success? It is not within my own abilities to make anything good happen. Anything within me that is good is only from the Lord.
And so, I have lived for thirty years now going back and forth between despairing over my failure, or pride in my own success. Believing that if I have failed, I have failed the Lord, if I have succeeded, then the Lord is pleased with me. The realization that life is not always black and white has become an even deeper revelation to me. And, if I am honest, I think I actually like black and white! Oh, that old religious Erin creeps in again; the Erin who would rather it be about doing right instead of growing closer to the Lord. In the gray where life really is (or in the middle instead of the extreme ends) I am forced to trust and believe that the Lord IS pleased with me, I AM acceptable to Him, and I can do NOTHING to earn His love nor LOSE His love. Life is not always an all or nothing prospect. What a concept.
Is it any wonder I strive so hard to succeed? Is it any wonder that I don't attempt things that I might fail at? Or give up at the first sign of struggle? Because that is where I was at this weekend. If you could have been a little cell in my brain you would have heard the enemy whispering this: "Why try when you are only going to fail? Just give up, it is easier this way."
But, in Jesus' name I am NOT a failure! I will NOT give up!