By Linnette Bachman
Have you ever had a picture taken of you underneath a rock, where it looks like you are holding it up? I took one like this as a kid, and the image is etched in my mind. Under the rock, you can exert all your force if you want to, trying to hold it up. The reality is that the rock is already being held up and supported on its own.
For years I have been trying to be perfect. I have been using all my energy and force and capacity to hold up that rock. The confession element of my ACTS prayer life was pretty limited, because in my mind, what did I have to confess? I had been doing my very best to be perfect all the time! I can see the arrogance in that now, but at the time I couldn’t.
In my 30’s the Lord brought about three different circumstances that have rocked my world. (No pun intended!) The first was Core Lies training. I was able to see my core lie: I must be perfect. I began to see that Christ wasn’t the center of my life… being perfect was. Deep down, I knew I couldn’t really be perfect, but I was trying with all my might to gain love and acceptance by lining up my ducks each day. Who could even see my ducks? I have no idea. But one by one, I would try to line them up. Occasionally, I would succeed: tidy house, laundry finished, meaningful connections with the kids, didn’t lose it with the kids, kept the kids alive, etc. But most days I couldn’t even find the ducks much less line them up.
The second circumstance, maybe a month later, I went through some training involving a personality test that once again hit this same area of perfection. I started to see how deeply rooted this was in my heart–and how I demanded perfection of myself and those around me.
One real pressure point for me was the kids’ bedrooms at the end of the day. I wanted them to be perfectly picked up with everything in its place. And they never were. Tired, I would come upstairs to tuck the kids in and see the mess and feel so defeated. And I would respond more sharply than I wanted to, and they would clean it up. But I didn’t feel any better on the inside—in fact I felt more shame because while I got the behavior I wanted and a clean room, I had lost their hearts.
Cathy Bowman encouraged me that the only way to move forward was daily repentance. And confession became a daily, sometimes hourly prayer. Lord, I am doing it again. I am looking for life outside of you. Help me. I turn to you now.
Thirdly, last year, our unexpected bundle of joy, Andrew, was the icing on the cake. After months of morning sickness, weeks of colic, and the energy of a nuclear power plant, he has been lovingly nicknamed our “exclamation point.” The boy never stops moving, he is like a tornado, and he has been the beautiful undoing of my ploys to keep it all together. I simply can’t do it anymore.
I remember one day talking with my husband Dave about how I longed to be perfect. And he said to me, Linnette in Christ you are perfect. And in Christ you don’t have to be perfect.
I felt my hands come down off the rock.
And it stayed up just fine.
In the weeks that followed, I felt utterly confused and disoriented. Who am I if I am not the woman holding up the rock? What am I supposed to be doing with my hands? I had no paradigm for life without striving.
The Lord has been teaching me who He says I am. I have a new identity of Christ in the core of who I am. And I have been learning to trust Him that it’s true. For years I have looked at the Wheel and thought that Christ the Center was about making Lordship decisions that honor Jesus. I thought it was about keeping the rock up by my perfect behavior. (Which I could never actually do!) But I look at it now and see that Christ the Center is a gift—I get to have all that is true about Jesus be true about me—and I can let go of my striving. He is holding the rock up and has been all along. He is perfect and in Him I already am. Christ the Center is really my identity in Christ becoming the most core part of who I am. This makes so much more sense why Dawson chose 2 Cor. 5:17 years ago as a Christ the Center TMS verse:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, [she] is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
There is no striving in this verse!
I still have my moments when I look in dismay at my kids’ messy rooms. But, I am learning to plop down on the floor, draw my kiddos into my lap, and snuggle them and tell them I love them…and then we start to clean it up together.