I recently listened to a podcast on stress while, ironically, commuting to work during rush hour. The speaker, Dr. Henry Cloud, mentioned two big ways we can cut down on our stress:
1. Let go of the need for control.
2. Let go of the need for perfection.
For me, I think that holds a lot of truth. This season of my life has held so much joy but also a lot of stress along with it. I am someone who loves routine and clings to it a bit too tightly, almost like a safety net. During these past few months of undergoing what seems like every transition under the sun, I have felt my control of things slowly slip through my fingers. Of course, we are never really in control of our lives, but the illusion of it makes me feel more secure. 😉
As far as perfection goes, I have already blogged about how that myth trips me up time and time again. Of course I am going to feel stressed when I feel that I am not living up to my standard of perfection… I will never live up to it, because it doesn’t exist. It’s like the carrot before the horse and cart, always dangling just out of reach.
So I’m sitting there in I-40 traffic, listening to that podcast and wondering how on earth a controlling perfectionist like myself is ever going to let go enough to experience less stress. Isn’t it funny how any time I find myself feeling stressed out and overwhelmed, it’s because I have forgotten the central message of the gospel? We are broken and messed up and may never get it right, but Jesus- the only human who ever achieved perfection on earth- loves us and trades our brokenness for His perfection.
Jesus gives us everything He has- His love, His relationship to the Father, His very life- and asks only one thing of us in return: that we surrender to Him. How freeing it is to give up my illusions of control and perfection and instead trust in the One who actually is perfect and actually is in control.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
It’s a beautiful and freeing concept, but one that is hard for me to consistently grasp. My life isn’t found in clutching at illusions of perfection and control, and beyond that, doing so is actually stifling my soul. The true rest, peace, and freedom I am seeking can be found only when I surrender to Christ. What grace!
I am thankful that despite my need for control, despite my desire for perfection, despite my stubborn insistence that I can do it all on my own, Jesus is constantly offering an alternative that is available to me whenever I surrender long enough to experience it.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30