Are you fearful of making mistakes? Having others find out your imperfections? Does the thought of a BIG error make you sweat?
Yeah, me too.
As an intern in college, I worked in the Communications Office. Our group created an Annual Report each year to update donors and alumni on the school’s activities. Publishing this booklet required a lot of effort on the part of the staff, so when the box of finished books arrived fresh from the printer, my boss couldn’t wait to crack them open. The smell of the ink permeated the room as he distributed a copy of the report to each person in the room. At once we all began flipping through the color pictures and admiring the way the finished product had turned out.
That is until the office secretary noticed a typo. One little letter was missing from a word. But, it was a significant omission.
Worst of all, the error wasn’t hidden on page thirty. Instead, it was in the very first line of the first page. The error? The booklet stated that our school was a PUBIC institution instead of a PUBLIC one.
At that point we had two options. We could either go through and put a sticker over that word in each of the 20,000 books that were printed, or, we could throw them all away and order new ones with the correction made.
Either way, fixing the mistake was costly and the string of proofreaders who had reviewed the document felt terrible for overlooking that one, fatal typo.
So how does this apply to you, me, our struggle with comparison or our body image?
It’s like this . . . I sometimes worry about what people think. Too much. And I mix up what God’s word says about that.
If you’ve heard my story, you know that my body image used to consume me. I’d change clothes fifteen times before church (or any outting where I’d see people I knew). I thought about my weight and my appearance, a lot! My head played a non-stop soundtrack of, “Am I dressed cute enough? Do they think I look fat? Do they think I’m too fat to wear this outfit that I hope they think is cute?”
It was fear. Fear of man and fear of rejection.
Fortunately, I’m not the one who was responsible for the error back in college–I was only the intern! But, I struggle with worrying about what people think when I make simple writing mistakes.
I’ll type a Facebook post and go back and read it 5 likes and fifteen minutes later only to find that I mixed up a word or typed out “too” instead of “two.” These types of errors embarrass me. They make me want to stop writing all together! My head changes its soundtrack to this one, “People must think you are really stupid. You don’t know simple grammar at all. If you can’t get every apostrophe right, you should really quit writing. You are an embarrassment.”
This is fear, too. Fear of man and fear of rejection. Again.
To take away my fear, I thought I needed one thing: PERFECTION!
If I could have the perfect body–then I’d never worry about what others thought of my appearance. Right? How could their thoughts be negative if I looked fantastic?
I decided that if I could never make another typo, then I’d be accepted. People would believe I was a skilled writer because I never messed up comma placement or homonyms.
I turned to perfection to save me from my fear. But, perfection is a horrible savior.
I took the Bible’s best advice on fear and completely jumbled it up. Instead of remembering that PERFECT LOVE casts out fear. I decided that PERFECTION would cast out fear and bring LOVE. (1 John 4:18)
This is just as big of a mistake as leaving the “l” out of public.
I pursued perfection so I could have confidence in my self. I pursued perfection so I didn’t need grace.
See that verse, 1 John 4:18, it actually says something else. It says that Jesus’ PERFECT LOVE casts out our fear. When I know just how much he loves and accepts the imperfect me, then I can have the assurance to say, “I’m no where close to perfect and that’s okay. I’m evidence of His grace.”
It is only when I feel showered by his perfect love that I can say, “Yes, I know I make mistakes. That’s why I need HIS love so desperately.”
If you struggle with fear, what others think of you, or, hey, even what the future holds. (We live in scary times…I see it!). Then know there’s only one solution.
That’s HIS perfect love.
It casts out that fear.
And, my prayer for you today, is that it would fill you.