Learning from Ephesus
It's true, I am a perfectionist. Most people who know me well would not be shocked by this declaration. I've always believed in the importance of doing my best and striving for excellence in everything I do. It wasn't until recently, while crying through the study of Ephesians in the Bible Core Course that I am doing, that the Lord showed me where this perfectionism stemmed from.
As a high school student, I was relentless in my studies. Not because I wanted to learn more or had a great hunger for knowledge, but because I was afraid of failure. Afraid that if I didn't get good grades, that somehow I wasn't good enough. The pressure I put on myself was insane. I would take ridiculous notes in every class and then go home and rewrite them until they looked perfect. On an assignment, quiz, or exam, if I didn't get a perfect score, I would cry and berate myself. Since the score wasn't perfect, somehow I wasn't perfect.
About 3 weeks ago, I started the unit on Ephesians for our BCC. At first I loved it. We had to read Ephesians about 5 times, observing the text and what was happening at that time. We had to pick titles for each paragraph, using only the words in the text, and only 4 words per title. That was interesting, but fun.
Then we got to something called the BRI or Basic Required Information. I didn't understand what was required of me in the assignment, and all of a sudden, all of my insecurities and fear of failure surfaced. If I didn't understand what was required, how could I make sure I did it perfectly? If I didn't do it perfectly, I would get a bad grade. In my head, that number grade was going to reflect my value as a student and therefore, my value as a person.
I felt sorry for my flatmate as she tried to talk me down. I agonized over it for days. I told my school leader I wanted to quit...several times. I didn't want to face the possibility of not being perfect. She encouraged me, as did my leaders and the people that are a part of the cohort, to keep pressing in and not give up. Then she was sweet enough to send me an example of what was the BRI could look like and it helped me get through the assignment.
As the unit progressed, we had to take time to dive deeper into each section of the letter to the Ephesians. I REALLY enjoyed this part. and could probably write paragraphs about what the Lord showed me while studying Ephesians, but I realized that my patterns of thinking about myself were really off. It was an area of my heart and mind that needed to be renewed.
I still want to do my best for the Lord in all that I do, but I can say, for the first time really believing and knowing, that it is not where my value lies. Getting good grades or being "perfect" is not the answer. It's in knowing that I am a daughter of the King who is loved for who I am. That is my identity and value.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to do this Bible school and I look forward to seeing what else the Lord shows me as I dive deeper into His Word! It's pretty amazing!
5/26/2020 10:33:17 am
This is so good! Your honesty about being a perfectionist is something I related to greatly as I remembered going to a private girls school where your grades were so, so important and determined how the teachers viewed you as a person. It was not a Christian school and probably very few of the teachers were Christians. It was all about achievement which almost led me to a nervous breakdown. I later quit school for a year and then returned to another private coed school with very few students in the 3 upper grades which took the pressure off me and I did well and eventually went to Wheaton. But I so understand how you were feeling Andrea.
5/26/2020 10:57:18 am
Thanks, Ann! It's been very eye-opening for sure. I'm so sorry you had such a hard time at that school! While I will always believe in doing my best in all things, I am really working with the Lord to understand that it is not a reflection on my personhood. Makes all the difference!
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A flawed and imperfect girl who loves a perfect and gracious God.