Are you one of those people who can open up a book, read half way through it – or even more so, dip it, horror of horrors – and then go, ‘nah. Too boring’ and put it back on the shelf? Or who likes the spontaneous life over the life of order and a reputation of consistency? Well, good for you. ‘Coz I am not like that!
I really don’t like putting back on the shelf a book only read halfway through, regardless of whether it is breathtakingly exciting or incredibly boring. If I’ve read that far, then for goodness’ sake, I may as well finish it, or else I’ll spend the rest of my life asking ‘what if’. I do things because that’s what I always do, and it’s what people are expecting. Or, on the flip side, I won’t do something, because I did that last time, and doing it twice in a row would not be ‘the proper thing’. I make up standards about the little thing things just so that I come across in a certain way. Consequently I don’t wear the same clothes twice in a row to Church, I finish every book I start, and I might turn down a fun night to uphold my ‘disciplined record of a consistent bedtime’. Getting the idea?!
I’m learning though, that those things don’t actually matter as much as I think they do. I do not have to be perfect; I do not need to live up to the external expectations I put on myself. I’m starting to realise that people’s opinions don’t matter, either, and very possibly, I’ve made up opinions that I’ve imagined others will have about me. But even if they do have those opinions, what does it matter? Won’t it go in and out of their brain at the speed of lightning? Do I honestly want to build my life around doing things perfectly, so that people think of me in a certain light? If I do, but secretly long to do something else, am I really being myself?
Ultimately, Christ is my completer. I can be me, with all my mistakes and quirks, because Christ completes me. The truth is; my mistakes don’t define me. Jesus does. The ladder of success and acceptability was dismantled at the cross, and we don’t need to worry about being ‘perfect’, because Jesus gives me everything I need, and everything else in the world, well, it doesn’t matter.
If you want a reputation, then make it one of character – one of living a life of Christ. Don’t worry about doing something because of what others will think, or because you must uphold silly little standards we put upon ourselves. Instead, walk as a child of light, worthy of the gospel of Christ (Ephesians 5:8, Ephesians 4:1)
On the other hand; if I want to go to bed every night at the same hour, because I honestly want to, because I know I function best that way, and because I like x amount of sleep every night, then I should feel free to do that! Go for it! God created me in all spheres of life for his fame – my body, my mind, my soul, my personality, my quirks, the whole kit and caboodle, and living out how he has made me to be glorifies him.
Sometimes it is important to do a certain thing day in and out because of a reputation that needs upholding, like turning up to work on time. Sometimes we don’t have an option to whether we finish the book or not, if we are studying at high school or university (these things are actually both character related anyway). But when it comes to the things that I do off my own back, if my life is aligned with Jesus’, then I am free to be myself, and be as spontaneous, different, structured, ordered, quirky, and unique as I like! We are free in Christ to be the person we were made to be, because all the things that might hold us back – like sin, death, shame, guilt, failure, pressure, and fear – are taken out of the picture. So don’t let people’s, or your own, expectations, made-up reputations, or self-made rules get in the way of living the full and freeing life God wants for you.