It was a Saturday evening, and I was in a PLACE. I hadn’t seen my friends in a few days because I hadn’t been feeling well, and I paced around my room as I figured out how I could practically have fun that night. This was not a normal happy strategy sesh, friends. This was an extroverted borderline tormented, “I need OUT! Send people and fun or I’ll DIE” moment.
Holy Spirit quietly interrupted my anxious, mental fun checklist and asked, “do you want to know why this is so hard?” I immediately said, “absolutely!” Anything was better than this chaotic way of thinking.
“You’re expecting things to be like normal. Things are not like normal. Your body is exhausted. You are healing and doing intense detox.” He began to sweetly remind me of all the highly unusual things that were kind of perfect storming my month of April.
Oh. All the sudden the pressure that had been holding my soul up in a frenzy relaxed.
I felt a lightness and satisfaction sweep over me.
Now wasn’t supposed to be normal, simply just because it wasn’t. If I held my current season up to my ideal, happiest, most functional season I would constantly be sorely disappointed with the one I was in. God re-framed a simple concept that can craft a cabana from a battlefield.
If my expectations of myself stretch far beyond what God is actually asking of me, I will forever be disappointed with myself when He’s not.
When I find out what God is actually asking of me, it allows me to enjoy life, because even if I’m not doing what I initially wanted, I can rest satisfied that I’m in line with Him and He’s proud.
I haven’t been able to work for a few years. If you knew me in college and before, you can imagine this hasn’t been fun. I love fun (often expensive), I love (well-funded) freedom, and I love a good goal. I have often banged up against the reality that I’m so disappointed that I can’t currently do something that most people do easily.
In the early days of illness, I frequently ran myself over the hot coals of other people’s opinions and, honestly, my own. Where I’m from there were many names for people who couldn’t contribute, and the thought of being one of them was extremely shameful. I could barely get out of bed, I could barely have conversations, but I continued to grip this expectation with white knuckles. I sat in bed and tried to shame myself into health again.
After hitting the wall countless times on my shame train, a friend recommended, “what if you asked God what he expects of you?”
I didn’t think this conversation would be too moving. I assumed God thought exactly like my culture and I did: work yourself into the ground or die trying. That afternoon I asked God, “what do you expect of me right now?”
The answer was astonishing. I don’t remember His words exactly, but the voice of this kind-hearted Father began gently speaking into me. He was so kind I was offended. I believe one of my first thoughts was ‘That’s pansy talk!’ The fact that He expected me to rest and sleep felt absolutely counter-culture and stupid. Where was my slave driver? Was it me?
He wasn’t angry at me for being in my current predicament like I was. He wasn’t demanding anything from me the way I was. He was present when I didn’t want Him, and way nicer than I was comfortable with. The nerve!
Ever since that day, I have this conversation frequently with God. It’s almost like I can’t believe He’s still good enough to continue to be this kind until I’m well.
He has been the validator I needed when there wasn’t another. Without His validation and that of a few well-placed friends, I honestly might have ended up disregarding my health to the point of completely losing my well-being or life.
So what are you expecting of yourself? What’s God actually expecting?
If you’re someone who’s a high achiever, I guarantee that He’s nicer than you. 🙂
What if you got to find out after all this time when, in a season that feels like you’re learning the same hard lesson over and over, that you’re actually just supposed to be learning that one lesson? What if you’re doing it right, and not actually far behind?
What if He’s not disappointed? What if you never had to be superhuman?
What if knowing God actually gave you permission to be kinder to yourself, and more realistic?
God’s perfect, but He’s not a perfectionist. 🙂 If you are or have been, ask Him what He expects. He still talks, and I know He’d love to talk to you.
Here’s to getting to know a God that’s way kinder than we have a grid for. ❤