All of my life, I’ve been a human of details and obsessed with being “good enough."
Somewhere, somebody told me to be more concerned with the process than the outcome, and I took this advice to heart. This deep concern with details came with me demanding perfection of myself in every aspect. It’s a vicious cycle to be stuck in, but I’ve learned through sharing my story that I’m not the only one who struggles - or has struggled - with this fear of failure and demand for perfection.
I always had enough head knowledge of God to know perfection wasn’t obtainable on this side of Heaven, but I at least wanted you to think I had my whole life in perfect order. And much to my own doom, the standard I’d placed on myself became what everyone in my world expected. But even worse, before I knew it, this “Little Miss Perfect” mask I’d been wearing began to crumble, and despite my best efforts, it fell off in big pieces.
My junior year of high school, I found myself stuck in a deep, dark pit of shame, failure, and mucky sin, but yet doing everything I could do to keep my facade intact. On the inside, I was in shambles. I’d bought the lie somewhere along the way that I had to be perfect for God to love me, and in this “crash and burn” experience I had found myself in, I’d learned just how imperfect I truly was. I’d bought into the lie that God couldn’t forgive me for anything I’d done, so in my mind, there just wasn’t a point in trying anymore.
It was a chaotic, exhausting living state - this living in my sin and pits of shame while still trying to cover up, smile big, and uphold the standards of perfection. I felt physically trapped in this depression bubble and like I literally couldn’t dig my way out of all this sin and shame with a shovel. God and I weren’t on good terms because I’d bought 3 dozen of Satan’s lies with a side of large fries (that line was added for humor - at least for me - but it is very much the truth). I’d prayed these prayers - that I was really convinced I was just bouncing off of the ceiling - that God would send me something, that He would speak or slap me in the face -- anything, at this point.
Then Jesus found me. And when I say that, I really mean that I let Him find me. Not that He didn’t know where I was all along - because He did - but I was so exhausted, so I finally quit my running and people pleasing and was met by the One who had loved me all along.
On a cold floor, my Jesus flooded my heart and met me there. Somehow, I ended up in Isaiah 43, and it pivoted my heart in the best way possible. In that chapter, so much truth is spoken about the Gospel and who Christ has made us to be. When I read the words in verse 1 that say, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine,” and verse 4 that says, “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you,” I felt pieces of my heart melt back together because the Gospel finally clicked for me. My Father - My Heavenly Father - didn’t call me by what I could do or what I had done. He simply just called me Sarah Caroline; He called me His; He called me precious and honored and told me He loves me. All of the acceptance I had worked and longed for was already placed upon me, I just had to look up to see it.
That night, the truth of the Gospel clicked for me, and Jesus flooded my heart as God opened His arms and welcomed me home. Because of that experience, I know there IS a God who welcomes you back in and loves you the same way, too. It’s my prayer that if you’re searching for the same thing I was, you’ll find encouragement from my story to continue seeking whom our God is.
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