As much as I hate to admit, I dance in the fray of second chances. I’m one of the most hardheaded people you may ever meet. I’m sure my husband, Chris, would agree. I often push for the final word and operate in an abnormally persistent manner. I like to be right 99.9-100% of the time, and I don’t do well with failing. I’m not perfect, yet when I do not measure up to my ideal perfectionism, I fall into contempt and self-blame.
A few weeks ago at a Restore One staff retreat I was widely reminded of my distinction in perspective. One of the team building exercises was a version of Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats (SWOT) Analysis to assess the organization and ourselves. One of the last brackets was a 1-10 rating scale measuring the overall quality of Restore One and our job performance. As the team shared their entire SWOT, I noticed that everyone’s ratings were significantly higher than mine. Each team member placed Restore One as an 8 out of 10 and themselves as a 7 out of 10. Appalled by my answers, I delayed as the last to share.
When it came my turn to speak, I shared my rating of Restore One as a 6 and myself as a 5. Slightly humiliated, I realized that maybe I was a bit harsh on judgement. The rest of group looked at me full of dismay, questioning my reasoning for the low rating. I shrugged it off as I’m just a pessimist and slightly overly critical. Yet in honesty, I walked away from that exercise bewildered by the stark difference between mine and the other staff’s answers. The real answer I would not share is that my heart drifts into distrust at God’s commission on my life. I could not hold the splendor of Restore One or beauty I bring to the organization. I had no faith in my heart that my position brought substance or productivity.
My pattern has been to run away from investing my full heart for fear that I will utterly disintegrate into existence. I see myself in the story of Jonah running from God until contained in the belly of a whale. I’ve had my fair share of in the belly of a whale experiences.
Jonah’s heart gives me a framework for the humanity of faith and God’s desire for restoration. Time and time again, I’ve placed myself within a bind by cursing the commission on my life and frankly disobeying God. Of the many of my Ninevehs, Restore One has been one. My 5 and 6 rating was colored through my perception of faith. My eyes could not see clearly until I began to see God’s eyes clearly.
I’m a woman of much brokenness, who seldom showcases my inability or weakness. Trusting someone else to be the bigger, stronger and wiser one fires my fight and flight response in my sympathetic nervous system. It’s an old way of processing that leads to distrust on multiple fronts.
Even in my lacking, God is committed to rewire my style of relating. Mercy and grace are the jumping off points for my second or one hundredth opportunity to trust His voice.
On looking to faith as a journey that restores the younger places within myself, I begin to see a pattern. My own lack of faith parallels to my own lack of fathering. The process of learning to trust God is a journey of God refathering the younger Anna. It’s His kindness that leads me into repentance and turning to obey His fathering commands.
Much like a parent of adoption, God understands my reasons for being a perfectionist control freak. He knows that is how I survived and that it is anxiety-provoking to trust anyone outside of me. That is why His eyes, even in disobedience, are never shame-filled but always compassionate.
I’m grateful for hundreds of second chances under God’s fathering. I’m learning how to rest in His omnipotent bandwidth and not in my own strength.
Anna Smith is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Restore One, where she works diligently on their chief project, The Anchor House. The Anchor House will be the first shelter in the nation designed to meet the needs of sex trafficked and sexually exploited American boys. Anna has a resilient passion to see sex trafficking victims experience true healing and restoration. In her spare time, Anna enjoys biking with her husband Chris, reading, cooking, throwing pottery, running and yoga. Learn more about Restore One here.
Dear Anna, Your words stung as I could put my name in place of yours in the sentences you shared on jealousy. Then my heart softened toward my self and my little me as I too didn’t learn to trust kindness through my earthly father. Thanks for a place for me to begin my day in kindness. Love, Valerie
Thank you Valerie for sharing your response. This is a journey of trust for sure. Glad to journey together! Love, Anna
I was deeply touched by your comment on how Father’s eyes, even in disobedience, are never shame filled but always compassionate. This is a work that Abba is doing in my heart, yet I still struggle to believe. Thank you for the reminder again of his kindness and grace towards me. And how I need to refocus again on allowing myself to be fathered by him.
It’s such a process of knowing him and trusting him as the good good God he is… I’m so grateful for grace along the way too. 😊
“Even in my lacking, God is committed to rewire my style of relating. Mercy and grace are the jumping off points for my second or one hundredth opportunity to trust His voice.” – Wow, Anna, that is a good word. It feels like the sermon my heart needed to heart articulated in two beautiful sentences. Thank you.