Issue: As a Christian I feel like I always have to have my act together and never have any problems, but when I hide my problems from others they know I am not being "real" with them. How can I be "real" and still be a Christian?
Insight: This is a question that plagues many Christians so do not feel alone in this. We as Christians often get this preconceived notion that we need to be perfect. God actually calls us to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16; Leviticus 11:44-45) which doesn't mean perfect, it means set apart. God wants us to live lives that are different than those around us. He knows we are prone to sin. He knows what we are capable of. I believe that it is us who expect perfection from others.
I was at a retreat and the speaker said that God is never disappointed in us. In order for someone to be disappointed would mean that they had an expectation that we could not meet. God has no expectations of us, because he already knows every thought that we are going to think and every decision we are going to make. God, has no expectations, he just knows the outcome. What if we were to be more like God in this matter. Even though we do not know the future, what if we just stopped expecting things from people.
In the last week, God has shown me that I have a problem with expecting too much from others. The result is that I am disappointed in myself and them, and they feel bad for not meeting my high expectations. This week I tried something new. I trusted God and threw my expectations out the window. I had an amazing week. People did things that were so far beyond what I ever would have expected them to do, because they were free to be all that they could be without the thought of possibly disappointing me weighing them down. It also freed me in another way, when things did not go well, I did not have to deal with disappointment as well as the situation. I was able to keep a level head and coasted through until the situation was ironed out. I also found that when people did things that were unusual, I just trusted that God was in control of everything and the end result was everything worked out well.
I believe that if we trust God, and allow Him to be in control of every single aspect of our lives (not easy), then we are free from expecting others to fulfill what we should be trusting God for. God will make sure every need we have is met, the question is do we trust Him enough to believe He will do it? Do we trust Him enough to give control over to Him?
Back to the issue, do not try to be someone you are not. Be all that God has created you to be. Don't try to be perfect, strive to be authentic. Christianity is not about being perfect; it is about believing in God and trusting Him with our lives. Instead of focusing on what others think about you, pray and ask God what He thinks about you. He may tell you through His still small voice, He may lead you to Scripture that reveals it to you, or He may just send another Christian to share with you God's heart on that matter. God always answers, just not always in the way we expect Him to.
Issue: I have taken on a lot of responsibility lately, sometimes I feel like all I do is work and have no time for fun. I find I have a hard time saying "No", and even when I do I feel like I am letting people down. How do I get my sanity back?
Insight: One thing you need to ask yourself is, are those people that are asking for help expecting you to be at your best, or less than that? Most people want us to be at our best, otherwise we could be hindering their progress. How can someone give their best if they are burning themselves out; the simple answer is they can't. So it is in everyone's best interests to say no from time to time.
I have a hard time saying no as well. I was offered an amazing opportunity to use the gifts God has given me in the marketplace, however at this time I really do not have the time to invest in this new endeavor. In the future, I might go in and sit down with them and discuss how I can be involved then. It is unfortunate that we cannot always do everything we feel we should be, however I have come to realize that God's timing is perfect and there is a reason that it is being put off.
Sometimes we convince ourselves that if we are not able to do it then no one will be able to. This may be true in some cases, but in most cases there are other people that could step in and do what you have been asked to do, however they may be overlooked or even put to the side because you are always available. I believe there are times when we need to say no so that we can give everything we have to our current projects and also allow others step to the forefront and be able to use their gifts as well.
Keep in mind that we are saved by grace, not our works. Ephesians 2:8-10 states this very clearly, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." If your motivation is to earn your salvation then your motivation is not a healthy one and you must pray that God would give you a healthy motivation. We should be motivated by our love for God and our love for people, this is what motivated Jesus in his ministry. Throughout the New Testament we see a pattern, Jesus was moved by compassion, assessed the need, then filled it. A great way to determine if your motivation is healthy or not is to ask yourself for whose glory are you doing all of this work?
Lastly, if you do not have time to be one on one with God every day then you have said yes to too much. God is much more interested in where you are at with Him than how many ministries you are a part of. God, instead of our works, should be the center of our lives. If we lose sight of God, we lose sight of why we are involved with these ministries in the first place.
If you are feeling overwhelmed right now, take an afternoon, and spend it talking to God, reading the Bible and worshipping Him. I am certain you will return refreshed and invigorated.
I strive to help others by being a safe place for others to ask questions and pose issues they face.