Finding Balance in Jesus
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
Have you ever seen one of those cute quotes on Instagram that are about balance? You know, the ones that say something along the lines of “Some days you run a marathon. Some days you eat an entire pizza. It’s called balance.” Whether I’ve just left a fitness class or I’m lying in bed on a Saturday watching Netflix, I’ve always found that they make me feel better about myself and the current choices I’m making. But why do we find it easier to only see the options that are on one extreme or the other?
Not only do we do this with our lifestyle or food choices, but we sometimes live a life of extremes when it comes to the self-awareness we have in our faith walk.
On one end we choose oblivion from our sin and block out the truth of our identity in Christ, seeking the highs that this world falsely promises us (little self-awareness). We lean into the temptation to gossip to feel better about ourselves and our choices. We drink too much wine to feel free from our inhibitions, heavy thoughts or feelings. We dive into our sexuality to try and find worth and affirmation from others around us. What usually results from our fall from the highs we’ve sought in our oblivion is feelings of shame, which can unintentionally lead us to seek our other extreme: perfectionism.
The pursuit of perfection sits high and mighty on the other end of our identity scale. We tell ourselves that we have to be perfect in order to fully embrace our identity in Christ, so we create rhythms and routines to try and clean ourselves up (high self-awareness). We go on rigid “detoxes” from certain food or drinks. We set earlier alarms to have more space for a quiet time. We religiously read books about breaking habits, or how to be more intentional so we can be more in control of our lives and our walk. But what happens when we fall short, slip up, or don’t complete a goal? Our unwanted friend shame comes riding back in like you called her number at a fast-food restaurant. We become overcome with shame when we can’t be perfect so we choose to just throw in the towel from our fight for righteousness. Here we go again with the vicious cycle between one extreme and the other.
Sisters, I’m learning this the hard way so please hear me when I say this; JESUS DOES NOT LIVE IN EITHER OF THESE PLACES. Jesus does not reside in the darkness of our oblivion from sin, but He also doesn’t fit in a God-sized box you can only find when you’re perfect. He put sin, the need for perfection, and the shame from all of the above to death on the cross. When I’m feeling shame from sin or from failure to be perfect, a verse from First John comes to mind.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18
God is the very definition of love (1 John 4:8). If we know that to be true, we can know He casts out fear, which has to do with punishment. Rather than fearing punishment from being found out or falling short, we can stop the cycle between sin and perfectionism by resting in His perfect love, which was the atonement for our sin, both past, and future. Let me say this loud and clear: He doesn’t want to condemn you, He wants to love you.
When Jesus died for us on the cross, He solidified our identity as children of God, giving us the gift of His grace and the inheritance of His Holiness. If you have asked Him into your heart and accepted Him as your Lord and Savior - YOU ARE HOLY! Breathe that in and repeat as needed.
Are you living in an extreme? Maybe you’re choosing to be oblivious to your sin and your identity in Christ because you feel like you’ve already failed and you’ll never be clean enough. Or maybe you’re trying to be perfect because you’re trying to outwork your past or outsmart your weakness. Whether you’re on one extreme or the other, you can stop and rest in the fact that God loves you with an everlasting love. No matter where you are in life, you can bring your weakness or extreme to the cross and find your identity in His love for you.
- Do you currently feel like you’re living an extreme with self-awareness? If so, what does that extreme look like for you?
- Today’s study tells us we are already holy by what Christ did for us. Do you struggle to believe you are holy even though you aren’t perfect?
- Fill in the blank: I, ___________________ am called Holy by Christ!
- What would your life look like if you leaned into the Lord’s love for you rather than feeling shame? How would you feel about yourself and your identity in Christ?
Meet the Author
Jantzen Jolly-Miller is a small business marketing consultant and the founder of Emerge Church Solutions, a firm providing consulting and marketing services for churches who are structuring to grow. In addition to blogging for Wheat and Honey Co., she writes about personal takeaways from her life and faith walk to help women lead authentic lives and create positive change in their everyday routines on her IG @jantzenmiller and at JantzenJollyMiller.com.