Performance Anxiety

After a somewhat rocky weekend, I was trying this morning to pinpoint the source of my resurgent anxiety so I could smash it with a brick painted in pretty colorful swirlies.  I think it is my old nemesis the Unknown.  The novelty of freedom is wearing off and “like a dog returns to its vomit” I am starting to yearn for the comfort of routine and the safety of someone telling me what to do and how to do it.  (Also known as regressing to childhood.)  This of course is fed by the false belief that I must do things a certain way and live up to certain standards and expectations to be considered successful.

But the truth is I am completely forgiven and already fully pleasing to God. (This was explained to me in The Search for Significance, which I’ve been working through for the better part of a year and I highly recommend it.)  Like we talked about in church yesterday, the LORD is not interested in the modern-day equivalent of Israeli mass-barbecue, but that I live and act in a way that glorifies him, raises up others, and lets me be more human.

I dreamt last night that I had accepted another teaching job, this time in a wealthier district, and I was telling my dad about how I should probably bring my new Macbook (which is how you know it was a dream) to impress the students and administration.  Looking back, I realize that I was approaching my work as a teacher with the same performance mentality that permeates my entire life, and with the attendant belief that I must meet certain standards and when those standards are not met, someone has to be punished.  Last year, that someone was me; this year, it became the students, which is why I chose to walk away.  I remember telling David before I left that I couldn’t let go of those standards because they were all I had in a rising sea of disappointments.  I guess that is true, for I have yet to fully internalize the full truth of Christ’s forgiveness and acceptance.

So now the question is, where do I draw the line between keeping myself safe from negative influences, and risking failure and catastrophe to truly understand grace?  Stay tuned…


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