Show Up: a How-Not-To Guide.


God help me. I’ve become a moralist.

I promise it started with the best of intentions.

I wanted to be healthier, so I started working out and eating more vegetables.

I wanted to be happier, so I cut out things that brought me stress.

I wanted to be holier, so I instituted disciplined quiet-time and focused prayer and books on how-to be a good Christian.

This time, it wasn’t the to-do lists or calendars that got to me. It was the scorecard. The one that I unintentionally wrote on a paper napkin when I first came to know Jesus. The one that had my perfect self spelled out amid the crumbs of a cranberry-orange scone and drips of a latte.

She would be gentle and intelligent and full of discretion. She would be funny, comfortable in her own skin and with all kinds of people. She would be a sublime cook and the highlight of every dinner party. She would have the best kind of fashion sense–modest, but lovely.

She would be a successful, well-published and well-rounded writer, humble enough to disdain the kind of notoriety she possessed. She would have perfect skin and teeth and weigh no more (and no less) than 120 lbs. She wouldn’t have any scars or tattoos or emotional baggage.

Above all, she would spread the gospel, whipping it out of her perfectly packed travel carry-on with the familiarity of one bringing out her favorite book–which, of course, she would be.

And when I looked in the mirror, that’s just not what I see.

I went home last week, and spent my days expecting God to show up. I expected that He would mysteriously, magically drop the answer to why I’ve felt like crap for the last month in my lap. I waited. And waited. And waited.

But there was no answer.

I got angry. The kind of angry that simmers just beneath the surface of a calm, collected mask. I was angry at myself for going home instead of just toughing it out. Angry for concerning so many people. Angry that I wasn’t measuring up to the girl on the napkin.

And then, I stopped being angry and just got exhausted. Exhausted from this battle for perfection and against the presumed expectations of other people. Exhausted from years of feeling beaten up by the girl on the napkin. Exhausted from feeling abandoned by a God who claimed to love me and but wasn’t answering me.

I came home and asked my house dad for time. Within fifteen minutes, we’d gone from “I don’t have any idea why I feel so crazy” to him saying,

“Heather, no one else is waiting for you to show up.”

No one else is looking at this scorecard. No one else is focusing on my weaknesses. No one else is checking to see if I did everything on my checklist. No one loves the girl on the napkin, but a lot of people love me as I am.

More than that, even, I am beginning to be convinced that God’s not waiting for me to show up either. He didn’t die for my moral high ground. Or for my convictions. He didn’t suffer the humiliation of becoming human just so I can try to perform my way into His presence. There is no sacrifice I could bring.

Laying my not-perfect-at-all, completely-sinful self before him doesn’t help. Trying to become healthier, holier, happier, won’t help. My morals won’t do a damn thing. There is literally nothing I can do but become helpless and ask Him to do it all. I can’t do anything.

He has to show up. He has to carry it. He has to do it. He has to do it because the responsibility is on His shoulders.

“Wonderful are your works;

My soul knows this very well.”

-Psalm 139 : 14


11 thoughts on “Show Up: a How-Not-To Guide.

  1. Amen! No one else knows the things you ‘didn’t get done’ and there is so much grace, even for the times we truly fail (not just fail to meet our own impossible standards). You have such a big heart and are so talented. God has given you huge gifts, and they are obvious. You’re a blessing 🙂

  2. i just found your blog (actually my mother found it & had a minor freak out because we sounded so similar!) SOOO i’ve been reading through your posts & i love love love your words. this post resonates with everything i feel, so thank you for speaking truth into my life!

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  4. I needed to read this today. Thanks Heather. Sometimes I am way behind on reading blogs, but it is funny how they seem to be read at just the right time. Love you girl!

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