The Dark Side

When I was little, I was a fearless kid. I would climb mountains by myself and was up for trying anything once and twice if I was challenged. I still am that way in many respects.

I was a go-getter. If you said I couldn't do it, that made it all the better. I would do it and I'd do it well just to prove it to you whether I really wanted, liked or enjoyed what I was doing. No one was going to tell me I couldn't.

Being the youngest of four brought with it, for me, a need to always prove myself.

I wanted to be at least as good as, if not better than, my brother and sisters at something...ANYTHING.

I wasn't one of those kids who knew what they wanted to be when I grew up. I had a lot of ideas. I would say this or that and stick with it for a little while. I'd feel the initial thrill of the challenge of a new avenue and ride it until I had conquered it. Then the thrill would be gone and I'd be left wondering what I was supposed to do next.

I always knew my biggest goals were to be a wife and mom but there was always a need for something more, something that would define me better. Something that would make me valuable in the world's eyes. That is the old Adam in me.

I harbored a fear of not being enough.

I still have this fear.

It comes into my life in my relationship with God, with whom I will never be enough on my own, I know. But, it also comes into the rest of my life. As a wife, as a mom, a daughter, sister, business woman, friend and on and on. I put these expectations on myself to be more, do more, be the best, quickest, hardest working etc. etc.

Then I burn out.

This cycle is one that continues over and over in my life. It is not one I am proud of.

Each time I go through this I come across my dark side. That side of me I don't like. That part of me that feels like a failure. The one that I don't let anyone see unless you happen to catch me on a bad day and see a glimpse.

My husband and children have seen it sometimes. I try to hide it from them. That part of me doesn't feel lovable. I don't love that me.

When the weight of all my own expectations and those of the people around me get me down. I lose my patience, I lose my temper. I am not full of love.

I try to cast my cares on Christ and to fall at the foot of his cross each day. I understand the idea of grace. But many times it remains just that, an idea.

I am not always full of grace toward others. I hold high expectations, many times they probably aren't attainable. For me, for others.

Every once in awhile I come head to head with my dark side. I fall into a spot that I can't get out of on my own. I fight, I claw and dig my way up the embankment, but I can't get out. The pit is too deep and I am too weak.

I get mad, I cry, I fight harder because I SHOULD be able to do this on my own.

Then that still small voice will finally break through. It isn't that it wasn't always there. It isn't that I didn't always hear it. It simply is that I don't want to allow it. I want to do this on my own. I want to be good enough!

But I am not good enough. No matter the accolades I receive, no matter who I beat, no matter what the world values my skill set at.

I am yet a poor, miserable sinner in need of grace.

God's grace. The grace of my husband and children. The grace of those others I come into contact with each day.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

Why do I fight that grace so hard? I don't know. Other than to say my sinful flesh wants it to be all about me. I want to "deserve" it somehow. I want to be special. I don't want to receive a gift.

But I can't deserve it. I have nothing that pays my debt. All I have is my heart broken and sore, my knees bloodied and scraped. My life, my all, at the foot of the cross of one who loved me enough to save me from that dark side.

Thank you, Father. Thank you for your unending grace that is new every morning. I need it. I sometimes need it countless times a day.

I will still struggle. It is a part of who I am. The makeup of my mind, the sickness of my sinful soul. I will try to get to the other side quicker each time. To only see a flash of the dark on my way to the Light, but in the end I know He loves me. He will welcome me each time I need him.

Thank you for your grace. Thank you for your love.