My friend Brandon read words to me this morning from his morning devotional. They were so timely I had to stop, put down the book I was reading to share them and write a few of my own.

Here goes…

“Relax in my peaceful presence. Do not bring performance pressures into our sacred space of communion. When you are with someone you trust completely, you feel free to be yourself. This is one of the joys of true friendship. Though I am Lord of lords and King of kings, I also desire to be your intimate friend. When you are tense or pretentious in our relationship, I feel hurt. I know the worst about you, but I also see the best in you. I long for you to trust Me enough to be fully yourself with Me. When you are real with Me, I am able to bring out the best in you: the very gifts I have planned in your soul. Relax, and enjoy our friendship.”

-Jesus Calling:Enjoying Peace in His Presence, Sarah Young

Good News and a reminder of the difficult task before a recovering performer/perfectionist like myself. Honestly, this has been something I have been pondering a lot lately. It is like God is refusing to allow me keep functioning in the same unhealthy patterns that keep me from living with joy, grace, transparency and freedom.

Since I can remember I have been on stage in some way, shape or form. As a young kid I remember appreciating it and getting a rush from all the lights, focus, applause, affirmation and external confirmation that I was good.

Early in life performing with “excellence”, doing what was right and would bring positive affirmation externally, became the most dominating pressure in all of life for me. I This pressure made it’s way into my relationships with family, friends, teachers, classmates, strangers and God.

Things got a little tricky, and freakin’ painful, when I became 7 years old and transitioned from one place to another due to my father’s call to ordained ministry in the UMC. With each move the pressures increased, as well as a caging of a spirit within. The need to protect oneself from critique, pain, disapproval, failure and disappointing people you love can create a hell of a cage.

Exhaustion. Hindering. Draining.

Our spirits are not made for cages. We were created to move, be, relax, create, walk freely and above all love WITH God.

I am learning as I serve and love with God during this particular season of life, that freedom from the cage is actually refiners fire, risky, not always going to know the “right” answer or move kind of stuff. Trusting the key to open the lock and taking the first few steps out of that darn thing is anything but easy for me. As much as I want freedom from it, I am very comfortable in it. Getting out and discerning what to take with me requires sacrifice, trust, grace, surrender, challenge, being still, intentionality and more honesty with self & others than a girl who learned very early to keep just about everyone at a good safe distance is really comfortable with.

Learning to live in the gray and trusting the God within to help create the boundaries outside of the cage is quite a task. There are many days I am just tempted to just stay in the cage and avoid doing the work WITH God all together. To not yield to the temptation I daily identify a quote, Scripture narrative or affirmation that reminds me to keep pushing towards my greatest desire these days… freedom in Christ… LIFE.

Who knows what this journey towards my greatest desire is going to look like. I will not be surprised if I get a few more cuts or bruises along the way. I will keep listening and moving though, seeking wisdom with each step. Curiosity and readiness for something new is not going to let me stop.