By Jenny Rae Armstrong
To say I have a hard time making decisions is a little like saying Imelda Marcos had a thing for shoes. You know that woman who stands paralyzed in the cereal aisle, chewing her lip like the fate of the free world rests on whether she chooses Original or Cinnamon Life? That’s me. And when it comes to serious “life” decisions, forget it. I’d rather stay home in my PJs, enjoying the kind that can be neatly contained in my cereal bowl.
Part of this is my personality, but the real reason I struggle to make decisions is because I grew up terrified of making the wrong one, of messing up, of failing. And failure, I discerned at an early age, was unacceptable for good Christian girls. We not only had to avoid sinning, we had to avoid even the appearance of evil, uphold a good name that was “esteemed more than silver or gold,” and basically impress people so they, too, would become Christians. No one said it quite like that, of course, but I knew what was expected of me.
This isn’t as surface-level as it sounds. I had fallen madly in love with Jesus, and had a deep soul-desire to please him, to honor him with my life. But ironically, performance-based anxiety and its big sister, pride, kept my patent leather Mary Janes frozen to the floorboards when I sensed Jesus inviting me to get out of the boat, to follow him into the open seas of life, to trust him. What if I didn’t have enough faith? What if I started to sink, and made him (read: me) look bad? He probably wasn’t calling me—he was probably calling that guy behind me, the one who had been to seminary. He looked like the type who could walk on water, and besides, I’m sure Jesus wouldn’t want me to risk ruining my shoes.
It wasn’t until I experienced a couple colossal failures in my adult life, and developed a tangible understanding of grace, that I began to relax into Jesus’ love for me and discover the freedom to follow wherever he called. Not because I was good enough, but because he was, and I could trust him to work in me and through me as I surrendered myself to him. My self-sufficient American churchianity slowly gave way to a 2 Corinthians 12:9 understanding of my relationship with Christ: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Don’t get me wrong—you still wouldn’t want to be stuck behind me in a busy supermarket. But the further I walk with Christ, the more willing I am to step out in faith – potential failures and all. I’m growing more and more confident that he who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion. After all, isn’t that the point?
Rae Armstrong is an award-winning freelance writer who is passionate about building up the body of Christ by building up women. She blogs about faith, women’s issues, and whatever else is on her mind at http://www.jennyraearmstrong.com. Drop by and say hi!