Do you ever feel like you have to prove your worth? So many times in my own life I’ve felt the pressure to prove I’m strong enough or good enough. I live with several rare diseases and often feel the need to prove these illnesses don’t define me. I’ve felt the pressure to prove how strong my faith was to other people, myself, and God. Have you ever felt like that? Maybe it’s not an illness you struggle with, but I’m guessing we all have times when we feel we need pretend we’re fine. I want to say it’s ok to be real.
A number of years ago God spoke something very clearly to me that changed my perspective. He said “Let Me make you pancakes.” I know that sounds odd, but stay with me. Odd is my specialty. One particular Sunday morning I woke up with a migraine. The last thing I wanted to do was turn on lights and then go to church where there would be even brighter lights, music, and all kinds of noises, but I felt pressure to go to church. I needed to prove to myself I was stronger than the illnesses I deal with. I needed other people to know I was spiritually strong. If I stayed home, that was letting Satan and my illnesses win. Perhaps biggest of all, I felt staying home made me a bad example for God. None of those were biblical reasons to attend a church service. They were all things I put on myself. It was as if taking care of my body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, was a bad thing.
Feeling the emotional weight of having to prove everything, I was standing in my bedroom wondering how much light I needed to put on makeup. Was my aim in the dark good enough to get purple eyeshadow on my eyelid and not my forehead? While I was debating my eyeshadow aim, my dad asked me if I wanted pancakes. Of course I wanted pancakes, my favorite breakfast food, but I didn’t have time to sit down and eat if I wanted to make it for the start of the service. I was already moving extra slow from the pain. My plan was to eat a chocolate chip granola bar in the car. So, I said no. The pain was intense, and I sat down on my bed asking God to help me make it to that service, and help me with the bright lights because a 35-watt bulb felt like I was staring into the sun. I asked for strength to make it through the usually happy sounds of music and people talking because it felt like those would be unbearable. I asked Him to help me not let Satan win and this illness defeat me. By now I was crying. Sitting there in the silence God spoke to my heart “Let Me make you pancakes.” That wasn’t on my list of requests. Yet, that’s exactly what I needed.
I was caught up in some kind of fake religious rules I imposed on myself. He wanted to show me grace. I had forgotten this verse:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
I like the way The Message translation puts this verse for two reasons. First, I was burned out on religion. We often hold to some made up set of criteria we think makes us look like a “good” Christians. That’s not what Jesus wants from us.
The second part that hits me is “learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” Unforced. No more trying to prove anything. Doesn’t that sound wonderfully freeing? Yet it’s hard to do. It’s something we have to learn. That Sunday morning, was the beginning of me learning unforced rhythms of grace. I exchanged my dress for my favorite soft penguin pajamas and told my dad I would like pancakes after all. As I sat down on my bed and snuggled under my favorite fleece penguin blanket I could smell the buttermilk pancakes, maple syrup and what I thought was chocolate. It was freeing. I was letting go of the burden to prove something. I had to remember God cares about every part of me, including my physical body. A few minutes later my dad brought me breakfast in bed. To my surprise, it wasn’t buttermilk pancakes. It was chocolate chip buttermilk pancakes!
Where was Jesus for me that day? He was there with a stack of chocolate chip pancakes.
What is weighing you down today? Is there something you feel you have to prove? Instead of asking God to help you to make things look perfect, ask Him for your own “pancake moment.” Let Him minister to you in a way that is personal. Never underestimate how God can use something that seems ordinary and rather earthly to nourish your spirit.
Please leave a comment. I’d love to connect with you. Tell me where you’re finding Jesus today or where you’re struggling to find Him. Is there something you’d like me to cover in a future blog post?
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