Remember when Steve Urkle graced our TV screens on TGIF? Steve was notorious for ruining or making a complete mess of things. He would nock things over, spill things, trip and fall and obnoxiously enter the room. Each time he entered I’d squirm, almost like Pavlov and his dogs, I was trained to get antsy knowing that Steve was going to ruin something. He had a famous line, “Did I do that?” he’d speak that line nearly every time he’d make a mess of something.
For years of my life I was afraid of making a mess or screwing something up. For I had it in my mind that my value was contingent upon cleanliness, order, and perfection. If the floor was scuffed or if I were to spill something, I’d feel a sense of shame that was deeply rooted in me.
Saturday night I got a phone call from my condo building. The apartment below me had water coming in from above. I hopped in my car and sped to get there as soon as possible. I arrived on scene and water was covering the floor of the bathroom and my bed room.
I didn’t immediately think, oh no! let’s fix this. Nor did I think, what could have caused this? No, those normal responses were not found in me. I instead immediately started racking my brain, what did I do to cause this? How did I make this happen? I was filled with fear and anxiety and wanted desperately to hide, hoping it would all go away.
Going away wasn’t an option.
It has been literally years since I’ve felt the anxiety that comes with a mess. I dealt with my need to be perfect and perform well several years ago, and truly have walked free of such thoughts for years. But something in this mess awoke with in me an anxiety that questioned my value.
Strange. Floods happen. It’s just how life is. Water damage happens and things get broken. Someone isn’t less of a person because of it. But I felt like less of a person. As I meet with people and they share with me the deepest parts of themselves, I get invited into the places where value and performance, beauty or personality collide. Instead of walking in the grace of Jesus knowing that we are beautifully and wonderfully made, we walk in the fear of failure, imperfection or neediness. We live in a if this than that mentality. If I don’t measure up in every way, all the time, I am no longer valuable.
This is a lie straight from the pit of hell and it binds up people with such strong ties that it is very difficult to even recognize its hold.
Jesus came to set the captive free.
Today, I took a deep breath, breathed it out and chose life. My value as a human did not drop with the flood. My value does not ebb and flow on any other thing than the beauty and truth and grace of Jesus.
Today, I tasted freedom. (I’m pretty sure I’ll need to taste it again tomorrow. It keeps me dependent!)
What is it that binds you? To what is your value tied? How have you experienced freedom?