Author: Sarah DeLotelle
Luke 1:30-38 – The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
“Somebody can do that better than me” is a common responses of mine to God’s calling on my life. I see this pattern of self doubt and excuse making not only in me, but in many of the biblical heroes of my faith. When God called Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt, his response was, “somebody can do that better than me. Someone without my weaknesses.” When the Lord commissioned Gideon to free Israel from the Midianites, Gideon’s response was “somebody can do that better than me. Someone who’s older and has a better history.” When The Lord tells Sarah she is going to be the mother of Israel, her response is, “somebody can do that better than me. Someone younger.” This however, is not the case in the life of Mary the mother of Jesus. I was reading the Christmas story this past week and was struck by Mary’s lack of…well…excuses. Gabrielle tells her that she is going to be the earthly mother of Jesus, and after some clarification about the immaculate conception, she simply replies: “May your word to me be fulfilled.” If Gabrielle had delivered the same message to me, I would have countered back with a laundry list of reasons why “somebody can do that better than me.” “Hey Lord, why don’t you chose the woman who is super compassionate and patient, or the women who’s yoga pants have actually seen the inside of a yoga studio, or the women who is super intentional and disciplined…the kind who would never allow their kid to eat mulch out of the neighbor’s yard (not that that has happened to me, wink wink).”
We often feel intimidated by the magnitude and weight of God’s calling on our lives. This fear can lead to what Craig Groeschel calls “the paradox of the fear of failure” which states: “The fear of failure can keep us from taking risk, but not taking risks ultimately leads to failure.” So what keeps us from risking and saying yes to God? Often, our need for perfection paralyzes us into inaction and we fail to give ourselves the grace to grow.
Don’t allow your need for perfection paralyze you into inaction
Some of you may be asking, “what’s wrong with wanting to be perfect”? But there is a difference between wanting to do something with excellence, and then needing to be perfect as a defense mechanism against judgement and shame. Brene Brown says that perfectionism is like a twenty ton shield that we hold in front of ourselves in an attempt to protect and hide ourselves from judgement and shame. Perfectionism says “either I do something perfectly the first time or I don’t do it at all.” This attitude can paralyze us into inaction or cause us to quit prematurely.
Give yourself the grace to grow
Saying yes to God means being stretched and grown. Trial, error, and adjustment are going to be a part of that process. Let’s talk sports for a sec (Lord help me). Do you know that there is not one Major League Baseball player who has never struck out? They have all gone to bat, tried ,failed, and had to walk back to the dugout. If you find a baseball player who’s never struck out… it’s not because they’re really great…it’s because they’ve spent their career on the bench, not up at bat. The people who don’t have any scars, failures, or big growth stories are the ones who aren’t stepping up to bat all that often, if at all.
Unfortunately, We often see failures (big or small) as the opposite of success rather than a necessity to success.
When it comes to co-creating and co-laboring with God we have to give ourselves the grace to grow. Consider someone who is celebrated as a success in their field – someone like olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. Phelps dazzled the world with his swimming abilities and countless medals, but even Phelps wore swimmies at one time. Even the most decorated olympian in history had to learn to doggy paddle, hold his breath, and tread water. Even Phelps had to strengthen specific muscles;Muscles that were always there, but were inexperienced and therefore underdeveloped.
I don’t know what God is calling you into in this season. Maybe it’s leading a bible study, writing for The Well, adoption, fostering, taking a leadership role, or reaching out to your workmates. But in that process there are gonna be some moments that are less than perfect. You may say or do the wrong thing or maybe not the best thing. It may be embarrassing, painful, or disappointing. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t the woman for the job. Give yourself the grace to grow!
Encountering the fear that you don’t have what it takes shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.
Jonathan Helser, who wrote the song, ‘No Longer Slaves to Fear” says that: “fear points its sword right where your destiny lies.” Encountering some fear may actually mean that you’re headed in the right direction and that the enemy and all of Hell are on high alert. When we chose to say yes to co-creating with God it doesn’t mean that you won’t encounter fear or that fear won’t exist. Being courageous isn’t about eradicating the very existence of fear, it’s about refusing to allow fear to sit in the driver’s seat; refusing to allow fear to call the shots or control you.
When we are stepping out in faith and co – creating with God it takes guts. During that process you may encounter the fear that you don’t have what it takes, or that somebody else could do a better job. When that happens remember:
1. That may be a sign that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be! Remember that fear points it’s sword right where your destiny lies.
2. You don’t have to be perfect to be powerful – Give yourself the grace to grow
3. Remember who you are apart from your performance. Allow the words of the Father to shape identity within you, the same way his words shaped galaxies, oceans, and the Himalayas.
Mary wasn’t the perfect mother, but she was absolutely the woman for the job! Mary played an instrumental part in the redemption of humanity, and had a powerful bond with Jesus that no other human in history will ever experience (imagine the sacredness of Jesus calling you mama). Mary was able to play that part because she didn’t allow a need for perfection to paralyze her into inaction. She gave herself the grace to grow in her calling. If you sat down with Mary for a peppermint mocha, I’m sure she would have a million scars, failures, and big growth stories, but I’m sure she would say it was all worth it! Don’t be afraid to say yes to God, don’t be afraid to jump in the pool, don’t be afraid to sink and let God rescue you, don’t be afraid to wear some ridiculous looking swimmies…all the greats did!