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Fresh roses, bound together in prayer

Always Falling Short? Who’s Holding Your Measuring Stick?

Over last weekend, the Northwest Encounter Conference visited Western Washington. As part of the Dwelling Place Northwest prayer ministry, I volunteered to help at the registration table, and with any other tasks as needed. Step into my experience for a few minutes:

The conference is AWESOME!! I’m loving the praise and worship and talks, and prayer. How much goodness and life is all around me, including the opportunity to spend time in a support role for the weekend! The unexpected side benefit is time to visit with Dwelling Place team members.

Praise and worship!! (Photo credit: Cathopic.com)

The Story of My Life.

In various Jesus-conversations with several of these women, and even in a guided meditation, one consistent theme keeps popping up:

I aim for high achievement throughout my growing years, but the message, “You’re not good enough,” comes often, and in repetition.

For instance: I’m a very good girl at my Catholic grade school. But I’m never, ever good enough to crown the Blessed Virgin Mary statue on May Day.

I’m a capable, hardworking high school cheerleader. But I’m not anywhere cool enough to be fully accepted by the cheer squad, and it doesn’t seem to matter how hard I try.

I’m an industrious college journalism student, but the Women-in-Communications student chapter “fails” on my watch, when two seniors recruit me as a sophomore, and then both graduate, leaving me all alone to find members and run a chapter — consisting of myself? Then mother tells me she’s disappointed in my inability to lead. If only I were good enough to succeed in leadership and make Mom proud of me. It’s not for lack of trying, but the trying doesn’t ever seem to make me “good enough.”

This is all before getting married, raising a family, running a business, and venturing into leadership roles in the church. I have a pattern of coming close — and not being good enough. It’s the story of my life.

It hardly ends there. Believe me, there are a ba-jillion other bits of historical evidence to corroborate the notion that, “I’ll never measure up.” It’s settled fact. So I try hard, but don’t ever expect to stand alone center stage and receive accolades. That’s for people who are good enough. I work hard, and others collect the rewards. It just turns out that way. Over and over. It’s fine, I’m good with it, really, I am…

Although behind the registration/hospitality table for some of each session, I do manage to get enough time to worship, praise, hear some of the speakers’ wisdom, and soak in the love and power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

At the final talk, before prayer for impartation of the Holy Spirit, Fr. Mathias Thelen asks us if we want more of God. He tells us, “Desperation (wanting more) plus Expectation (which is self-explanatory) equals Invitation for God to Act.”

I want more. I want MUCH MORE. I don’t want this to ever end. Yes, I expect Jesus to help me in this moment of wanting more. But I’m afraid, because like James and John, in Mark 10: 35-40, when they ask to be seated at his right and left hand when he comes into his kingdom, Jesus says, “You have no idea what you are asking!”

But in fear and trembling, with hope, I go forward. I know Jesus loves me! And in a twinkling, I am “resting in the Spirit,” laying on my back on the carpet, pretty much stuck there while the maker of my soul does a redecorating project. He gets rid of the old junk in my heart, and replaces it with his love and truth. When I’m finally able to get up off the floor again, I am overflowing with joy!!

It seems such a small thing, to let someone hold a measuring stick.

Today still radiant, with joy in my heart, I receive a new revelation about a measuring stick (among other thoughts, which I hope to share with you in the future).

Who is holding my measuring stick?

When the teachers chose the May Queen, my measuring stick was in their hands. Likewise, the cheer squad had possession of my measuring stick. During my college “leadership failure,” my Mom — and those professional mentors who ignored the fact that the student chapter was unraveling — which had nothing to do with me — held my measuring stick.

Can you detect the pattern?

Whoever holds my measuring stick has the power to judge my worth. In situations where success is subjective, “I’m only as good as someone else will let me be.” But that’s not who I am to God.

I now see in a fundamental way that my measuring stick does not belong in the hands of anyone but God. When I allow any person other than God to hold my measuring stick, I am giving them power over my life, and power to speak to me those all-too-believable lies like, “I’ll never be good enough,” and “I’ll never measure up.”

But what the Lord thinks of me can be found in the Song of Solomon 4:7.   “You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.”

I like this idea much better. To God’s measurement, I will always be much more than good enough. I am altogether beautiful, and without a flaw! The same is true for you, dear soul reading this blog post. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and God loves you and is well pleased with you! You are more than good enough. Step into the light of grace and truth! Rip your measuring stick out of the hands of others, and place it in the Master’s loving and merciful hands, for He cares for you.

Like light entering a dark place and illuminating everything within,
the Holy Spirit will come, and reveal the truth of the beautiful souls we are,
each created in the image and likeness of God. (Photo credit: Cathopic.com)

Before receiving this deep cleansing of the Holy Spirit, when I shared the story of my life with those women on the Dwelling Place team. All three were surprised at my deeply rooted feelings of never measuring up. They didn’t see me as any kind of failure. And my sisters in Christ all said they would pray for me, for God to reveal His truth to me. I’m so glad they did.

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