The all-or-nothing mentality… what a terrible prison to be in. I tend to struggle with this daily, sometimes. Satan loves to use anything and everything he can to derail us. He is prowling around like a lion looking for whom he may devour (ref. 1 Peter 5:8).
“I’m afraid to try my best because what if it still isn’t good enough?”
“I’ve tried to eat healthier, but I gave in and ate a cookie so now I’ll go ahead and eat them all since I already failed.”
“I can’t do housework unless the baby is sleeping and nothing else is distracting me. Then, I can get my to-do list done all at once and have time to relax.”
“I need to set aside 30 full minutes of alone time to read the Word and make my prayers longer and more effective.”
Are these thoughts you’ve had before? This is what I call the all-or-nothing prison. It either keeps us from not giving our best, or it keeps us from making any progress at all. It seems like if we aren’t able to accomplish the exact things we planned on then we can’t do any of it because we already missed it.
If you’ve been through this, or are currently battling it, I want to tell you there is freedom waiting. It doesn’t have to be this way forever. We have to constantly be on the lookout for areas that feel like chains holding us down. The devil is smart, he’s been doing this a lot longer than we have. It’s why we need to saturate ourselves in Jesus and the Word. The Truth (God’s Word and Jesus’ love) is the only thing that will truly set us free.
I think the biggest freedom I found was when I realized that even my very best still won’t be good enough, at times. I’ll still make mistakes; I’ll still forget that one thing I was supposed to bring to the party; I’ll still mess up and eat all the cookies or say the wrong thing to someone. When we truly put our security in Jesus, the perfection mentality just melts away. It sounds so cliche to say that Jesus is the way, but I’ll tell you right now that is the truest thing I’ve ever put to the test.
We have to understand we will never be perfect, or even effective, without our Jesus. The laundry will still pile up, the cookies will still be sitting there, and our very best will still be less than someone else. We are instructed by our Lord to do things to the best of our ability and with excellence, and then He will fill in the gaps that are missing. It doesn’t have to be complicated or intimidating all the time. Start with one thing and get it done. Spend five minutes alone with our Lord, instead of 30, at first. Read just one chapter of the Bible in a day. Start with something and then pretty soon, you’ll have read 30 chapters and progressed in your walk with the Lord. Look for the small areas of your life where you can get one thing done at a time. The more you practice, the easier it becomes.
Do not accept this mentality any longer. You are already perfect and blameless in God’s eyes. Your house doesn’t have to be spotless for your worth to be effective. Find your security in Jesus. He will give you rest and comfort.
Follow where the Lord leads, ask for His help, and take a break when you need it. Play with your kids instead of folding laundry. Remind yourself you won’t ever be perfect even if you try, so let God handle the missing pieces.
Be honest and find comfort in knowing Jesus loves you when you are at your very worst. Your works mean nothing. It’s all about what He did, and it’s already taken care of. Start small.
Hannah Smith, author of the Moving Mountains blog, is a woman who feels she has experienced a lot of life in her 30 years.
At 19 years old, Hannah joined the Army. After moving around the country, getting a divorce and losing what seemed like everything, she landed back where God wanted her in Ohio, even though she fought the whole way. She is now in charge of the prayer team at her church and seeks the Lord with all she’s got.
Hannah is married and a RN, but works as a stay-at-home mom to her daughter, Isabella, and her son, Grayson.
She loves to hike, travel, drink coffee, and talk about Jesus. Hannah also has a heart to create a home and life in which she can be a safe place for the hurting and the broken.
To her readers, Hannah says, “I believe that God set every single one of you reading this apart, for such a time as this. It is my hope and prayer that God would use the words I say to change your life in a way you and I never thought possible!”