Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Gold Stars


Whew...2006 was an interesting year for me to say the least. Let’s just say I am GLAD that it is over! Talk about drama – some self-inflicted and some stuff that just came out of nowhere. I was like, “What the hizzy is this all about?” I’m sure you’ve been there at some point in life.

But that’s not why I’m writing tonight. I’m writing tonight to tell you the BIGGEST mistake I’ve made every single year for the past five years of my life, and I have a feeling that I am not alone. That mistake is this: At the end of the year, I do some sort of assessment of my life which I have found to be a worthy exercise. However, what typically happens is that I go into the year with a specific personal goal or desire in mind, and when it doesn’t happen then my final conclusion is that the whole year was a complete disaster. In actuality it wasn’t!

A few weeks ago, it finally hit me! I was comparing how closely my current state was to my desired state. When the two didn’t align, I would say, “Dang Gina. I missed it again.” I would get so frustrated. Why? I only looked at “performance-based activities” because usually these activities tell us how well we are doing in life. And, I’m not just speaking from a career perspective. For me, it could be anything - serving in ministry, interactions with family and friends, handling my finances, dealing with temptation, loving my enemies, studying my Word, praying for others, having enough faith for healing just to name a few. The more victories I had over these things, the better off I was doing. Right? Wrong.

What was happening was that I was reducing my life (which is intended to be lived in abundance) to a bunch of “gold stars” just like I did in the first-grade. And, that’s not cute at 31. Let me take you back. Remember, when you did something good, you got a gold star. When you did something bad, you got one taken away. I remember being so proud of the fact that I always had a gazillion gold stars. I looked at that poster so many times throughout a day, hoping that Shelly Smith would never catch me and that my teacher would think I was the best thing since Google. And, boy if I lost one...I was devastated! It made all the other stars that were still lined up so beautifully by my name seem worthless. This was madness, and 20 something years later, I was still at it.

Sometimes self-reflecting (which should be rewarding to us spiritually, emotionally and physically) really turns into self-bashing that does more harm than good. As a result of focusing on “things,” I find myself going into the new year wanting to do to either, (a) Fix all the stuff I screwed up last last year so I could get more gold stars. Or, (b) Avoid making the same stupid mistakes I did last year so none of the stars I had would be taken down. Either way, my victory depended on my own decisions and actions. Too often, I have lost sight of the fact, because of Christ I’m at least on the board in the first place. And being on the board is better than not being on the board at all. That is great news!

Success in life is so much more than accomplishments and failures. Success is being content (effective) in whatever state we are in.

Now, I am ambitious, and by no means am I advocating doing absolutely nothing while believing God for something. But, I am tired of playing “Holy Ghost, Jr. (as Dr. Joyce Meyer would say), expecting God to bless (or deliver) me the way I want to blessed (or delivered) when I want to be blessed (or delivered). God could’ve delivered Jesus and not let Him go to the cross (like Jesus asked in the garden). But, Jesus didn’t let it affect who he was. He quickly said, “Not my will but yours be done.” At the same time, God could’ve blessed Jesus by setting up His holy shop right in the middle of Jerusalem and calling it a day. But, he didn’t. Jesus didn’t dwell on it either. He just walked it out (get it?) by doing His father’s business.

God isn’t our first-grade teacher who sits on the throne all day adding and taking away our gold stars. In fact, “We are saved by grace, and not by works.” We are not failures because things fail. We are not successes because things succeed. We are who God says we are. That’s it.

This year I am committed to resisting the temptation to magnify setbacks and victories - allowing them to change my entire perspective of who God says I am. Instead I am going to magnify Him. I am believing that every day is a new day to write a beautiful new page of my life. I am resting in the joy I had when I first received Christ as my savior. My purpose manifests everyday that I wake up. I am not going to stress over the “show stopper” blessing. If you are believing God for something (a husband, restoration of a relationship, healing, children, financial breakthrough, a business), “be still and know that He is God” and that “the plans of the diligent surely lead to plenty.”

Have a great year!