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Performance Addiction and My (Literally) Crappy Sunday

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Holly and I have our Sunday morning routine down to an exact science. I wake up at 7:30AM, shower, and get ready. Caleb and Holly wake up at 8AM. I give Caleb some breakfast and dress him while Holly gets ready. I begin rushing Holly to finish up around 8:50AM so we can be out the door by 9AM. Finally, we promptly roll out around 9:10AM.
This carefully crafted circus act was thrown for a loop this weekend while Caleb was finishing his breakfast. While Holly and I were taking a break to watch the news and Caleb was eating, Holly turned to check on him and screamed. When I turned and saw what caused her reaction, it took everything I had not to throw up.

Caleb, who was not wearing any pants at the moment, had pooped. This, to any parent, is a nonevent. But he hadn’t just pooped. It also went out the side of his diaper and into his high chair. Caleb had taken this unique opportunity while we weren’t looking to repaint his high chair, face, and even his own mouth with it.

I’m telling you, you just really haven’t lived until your son smiles at you with poop hanging out of his mouth. I rushed to clean him up before the federal government declared our home a terrorist crime scene and charged us with making a Weapon of Mass Destruction.

My little WMD wasn’t done though. As I went through half a package of wipes, he tried squirming out of my arms, laughed at me as I sternly told him to stop, and kept reaching for his poop. Eventually, the inevitable happened. I had gone 16 months and 7 days without exploding at my son but the time had finally come. With my face just inches from his and our eyes meeting each other, I completely lost it.

“CALEB! CUT IT OUT RIGHT NOW!! I AM NOT MESSING AROUND!”

He was slightly startled and more than a little confused. I have been frustrated with him before but I’ve never been furious like I was that morning. It only took a few moments before the guilt and shame starting coming over me. Holly finished dressing him while I went into our bedroom to cool off.

Although my tough little guy had already moved on, I came back a few minutes later to give him a hug and kiss, explaining that I love him but that he needs to learn to obey. This was followed by us playing on the floor together while Holly finished getting ready.

Dealing with Failure

My job performance as a husband and father is very personal to me. I live with a deep conviction that it’s the most important thing I’ll ever do as a follower of Christ. If Holly is dissatisfied with some element of our lives, I can’t shake the urge to quickly correct it or feel like less of a man when that isn’t possible. If Caleb is sick or behaving poorly around others, it’s hard not to judge myself for it.

My dad was an incredible husband and father in our home and the bar I’ve set for myself is so high that I rarely feel like I’m meeting it. I spend most of my time convinced I am failing. Not only do I feel that I’ve failed Holly and Caleb, but Christ as well.

While I know my salvation is not shaken by it, I sometimes view God as one of my elementary school teachers expressing her disappointment in my homework assignment. It causes me to shut down and distance myself from Christ as if he is an angry father who has just sent me to my room.

Shredding the Report Card

In his book, Center Church, Tim Keller describes the ethos of a man who is truly transformed by the Gospel and makes the following characterization.

When I am criticized, I struggle, but it is not essential for me to think of myself as a “good person.” My identity is not built on my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ…My self-view is not based on a view of myself as a moral achiever. In Christ I am at once sinful and lost, yet accepted. I am so bad he had to die for me, and so loved he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deeper humility as well as deeper confidence, without either sniveling or swaggering.

I bet I read that passage a dozen times before moving on. Not only is our salvation not dependent on our performance, but neither is Jesus’ love and approval of us. In fact, Paul makes it clear that continuing to wrestle with sin and failure is an inevitable part of our Christian lives.

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:15, 24-25)

Despite many followers in the church questioning his authority as an apostle and looking for any reason to discredit his teaching, I love that Paul is so open and honest with the Romans in this letter. He is making it clear that his authority is not wrapped up in his ability to keep the Law. It doesn’t come from his moral purity either. If it did, he would be sunk. Instead, his authority comes from the deliverance he has received from Christ.

I often struggle with the desire to prove myself as a faithful, if not flawless, follower of Christ but this desire isn’t spiritually motivated. It’s a product of my own pride. I often judge myself based on my performance, not because it matters to Christ, but because it matters to me.

The shame and guilt I allow to amount as a result of it distances me from my Creator and others around me. It causes me to hesitate before apologizing to others because this would require me to beat myself down further. It keeps me from approaching Christ with an open heart because I feel undeserving of his grace and restoration.

Sometimes it isn’t sin itself that does the most damage in our lives. At times, it is simply the cloud of shame that follows. Are you allowing your failure to keep you from experiencing Jesus’ restoration? Do you find yourself betraying your own beliefs over and over again? Well, you’re in good company and it’s time to let yourself off the hook. It’s time to walk out of the prison that Jesus has already rescued you from. You’re not a prisoner of the Law any longer and it’s time to let go.

P.S. – Read Romans 7 if you’re struggling with this. Then, read it again.

Posted in: Manhood

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  • Klayton

    good word brotha.