When Our Best Effort Isn’t Good Enough –– Guest Post

picture of a sad womanWhat happens when you work towards something, maybe even for decades, try your best, and don’t receive the results you hope for? My guest today, Hope Bolinger, shares such a time, and how God used it to bring her to a place of increased freedom.

When Our Best Efforts Aren’t Good Enough

By Hope Bolinger

In one moment, despite my best efforts, my hopes are dashed. I’m at auditions for my high school production of Tarzan.

I’ve prepared for this moment for six months. My friends practiced walking like monkeys, listened to the entire soundtrack ten times (OK, fifty times), and we knew the script inside out. It’s interesting to read about experiences of an author. Readers will enjoy that.

They’ve called my name. I sing the piece I’ve selected for the piano flawlessly. The dance audition goes surprisingly well, and I actually remember every twist and turn and other French words for dance moves I can’t recall. Maybe use recall for one of these? To avoid repetition?

Lines? No worries. Don’t even need the script.

Two days later, I’m in a Taco Bell with a group of friends as we wait for the director to post the cast list online. My friend Amanda hits the refresh button. They’ve posted the list.

People begin hugging, crying. They’ve all made the cut. Every one of them. My friend passes me the phone, lights dimming in her pupils. I scroll up and down. They must’ve made a mistake, a typo, a something!

My name isn’t on the list.

I didn’t make it.

Sorry. That must’ve stung.

It may help to know a little about myself. I fall hard on the type 3 portion of the Enneagram. This means that every success can buoy my confidence tenfold. And every failure? You can guess what happens …

After that Taco Bell disaster, I asked the director how I could improve for the next play. She sighed through the phone and said, “To be honest, Hope, you did great. But you’re too tall for the cast.” Ouch! Once again, my 5’10” height not only pushed me to the back of pictures, but it didn’t allow me a spot on the show I’d spent months preparing for.

You can bet I took this news like a champ. Meaning, I cried into my arms, my pillow, and anything else I could put my face on that night. I’d given all of myself, and it wasn’t enough.

I felt as if I wasn’t enough.

And maybe you have experienced something similar. A promotion that you worked so hard for that fell through. A time where you plucked enough courage to ask that boy or girl on a date, and they laughed in your face.

A season of trials where you prayed the right prayers, read the right verses, and yet, God would not pull the thorn out of your side (2 Corinthians 12).

So what do we do when our enough isn’t enough?

Lucky for us, we have a God who becomes our enough. After auditions and the Taco Bell incident, it took me a while to unravel the complex emotions stirring in my chest. Then I realized that I’d placed too much of my value as to whether I’d be a monkey in a chorus versus a stage manager who worked behind the scenes.Quote on purpose of God

God didn’t treasure me any more or less because I didn’t make the cast of a show. He loves me as I am and can show others His beauty, grace, and love through me whether I act on stage or paint sets.

One Tarzan show and a chance to stage manage later, I learned that it’s OK. Because I have a God who loves me no matter what I do, and that’s good enough for me.

Get to Know Hope Bolinger

Hope Bolinger's headshotHope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing program. More than 600 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer’s Digest to Keys for Kids to HOOKED to Crosswalk.com. She writes about 250-300 articles a year.

She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column “Hope’s Hacks,” tips and tricks to avoid writer’s block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly in the Serious Writer newsletter.

Her modern-day Daniel, “Blaze,” (Illuminate YA) released in 2019, and they contracted the sequel “Den” for July 2020. Her superhero romance she co-wrote with Alyssa Roat releases from INtense Publications in September 2020. Her favorite way to procrastinate is by connecting with readers on Instagram and Twitter @hopebolinger

Check out Hope’s Latest Release, Den:

Danny Belte barely survived his sophomore year at King’s Academy, having to deal with Den Cover Imagehorrible initiation practices, stomach-churning cafeteria food, and the constant threat of arson.

His junior year doesn’t start off much better. Facing a series of mysterious suicide attempts that begin on day one–and a disturbing pattern that appears to connect them–Danny has a feeling something far more sinister is at play. He tries to narrow down a list of suspects as those closest to him disappear, one by one.

Can he protect his friends from a possible murderer on the loose? Or will he find himself trapped in a fate worse than a lions’ den?

Buy a copy HERE.

If you’re struggling to bounce back from a failure or battle fear of failure, make sure to listen to Jennifer Slattery’s Faith Over Fear episode titled Moving Past the Fear of Failure. Find it HERE.

Identity Theft––Combating the Fear of Insignificance: Guest Post

Quote from Tim Keller on Identity

Can you imagine the confidence and impact we’d have, the “offense” we’d avoid, the ministries we’d launch and opportunities we’d embrace, if we learned to live in who we really are? Who God says we are? And if we fully grew in to all He created us to be?

I’m pretty sure we all struggle in this area. I have moments of living fully anchored in Christ and others where I give other people’s voice and opinions way too much weight. Perhaps you can relate? My guest today, Caroline Powers, can. Read more to see how a shift of roles revealed a much deeper hole God wanted to fill, and consider how He might want to do the same for you.

Identity Theft: Combating the Fear of Insignificance

By Caroline Powers

Something was wrong with my life, but I had no idea what it was. I was thirty years old and the mother of a precious eleven-month-old son. My husband of eight years and I were returning from a Christmas visit with friends when I confessed. “I don’t know who I am. I feel like a hollow center surrounded by mirrors that reflect back to people the image they expect to see.”

At a time when I might have been enjoying our life, I felt only emptiness. We both had careers, we didn’t fight or treat each other badly, but my husband must have been feeling unsatisfied as well, because by the next Christmas he had moved out and was in another relationship. My heart was shattered by his betrayal, but the message my heart received from this was worse. If I meant nothing to the one person who supposedly loved me, I must be insignificant. The person I am must not matter at all.

Years later, I understand that fear of being an insignificant person drove me to perform for others. But even success left me feeling hollow because my achievements were a facade to hide behind. No matter how much I might impress someone, my true lack of self-worth remained untouched.

Whether our needs were neglected, or we’ve had hurtful, bad experiences, life sends messages about our worth. Without a secure foundation those experiences can come to define us. In the absence of truth, we conclude that our needs are trivial, our wants must be wrong, and that we ourselves are so flawed that we are not important. This is what happened to me.

Once my heart adopted the “insignificant” label, it was as if I put on glasses and interpreted everything through that lens. Before my life could change, I needed to take my filters off and learn the truth.

Psalm 139:13-14 assures us that God created our inmost being. He knit each of us together in a fearful and wonderful way (NIV). He gave us certain genes. He caused our birth into a family, a country in the world, and a time in history. None of those things were up to us, but they provide the set-up for our journey. Our very uniqueness makes us significant. Because each person originates from God, people do not define us. Only God has the authority to define and assign our significance.  And no one can take our place in God’s plan.

Verses 16-17 continue, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” The Amplified Bible says, “the days that were appointed for me” and King James uses the word, “fashioned.”  From this we know that God continues to order our days and sovereignly oversee each one. So, whether our lives appear to be convoluted and messy or focused and right on track, one thing they cannot be, and we cannot be, is insignificant.

Our significance is also found in the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Jesus quoted from Isaiah 61 when he began his earthly ministry by declaring that he was sent to bring good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted and proclaim liberty to the captives. (61:1). His earthly life ended on a cross where he took our sins into himself and died. But God raised him, and our sins were left in his grave. We gain a new life by faith in Christ. You and I may feel helpless, even hopeless, and unworthy at times, but considering the lengths Jesus went to, we are never insignificant.

Receiving Christ exposed my fear of insignificance as a lie. Now, I am guided by the truth that I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for the works He prepared for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Are there labels you need to reject and filters you need to remove? I encourage you to spend some time with Psalm 139, Isaiah 61, and other Scriptures. Compare God’s picture of you with the one you would paint of yourself.

Let’s talk about this! Where do you need to agree with God to conquer your fear insignificance? Share your thoughts and examples in the comments below.

Get to Know Caroline:

Caroline's author photoCaroline is the unpublished writer of a novel that speaks to the themes of grief, identity, and significance. For writing, she draws on her own experience as well as those gained serving in healing prayer ministry for individuals with emotional issues in her church. She became a Christian through the trauma of her divorce and has been remarried for thirty-five years. God has given her a daughter, two stepsons and four grandchildren in addition to the son she had before. Each of her children is unique. They are in various stages of faith in God and understanding their value to Him and other people. She prays for them daily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more encouragement on resting in your Christ-given significance, make sure to check out my Faith Over Fear podcast episode titled Moving Past the Fear of Insignificance. Find it HERE.Faith Over Fear podcast episode logo

 

 

 

The Who-What-Where-and-Why of You!

Do you ever feel like your brain is combatting itself? Fighting against those nasty lies we soak up and buy into with truth? Clinging to your identity in Christ while echoes of self-loathing swim through your head?

Larry's picToday Larry Timm, fellow ACFW writer and a man who has made countless readers literally laugh out loud turns serious as he shares his thoughts on our identity in Christ. As you read his heart-stirring devotion, I pray God will allow these truths to penetrate deep, to your very core. I pray you would not only believe and accept these truths, but that you would live them out.

 

The Who, What, Where, and Why of You! By Larry W. Timm

Many years ago I developed a “Prayer Motto” that has helped me in my ministry as a preacher/teacher. Most recently it has been a source of inspiration for my ministry as a writer. I share it with you in hopes it will encourage you in whatever area God is using your life.

Dear God,

Please help me remember:

WHO I am, for I’m Your child;

WHAT I am, for I’m Your ambassador;

WHERE I am; for I’m in Your sight;

WHY I am, for I’m forgiven.

 

WHO I AM:  Christian, never forget that you are a child of the King! Relationships on earth are extremely valuable, and I love being a husband, father, preacher, etc., but nothing compares to the wonderful reality that I am a born-again child of the Heavenly Father! The Apostle John wrote, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are…” (I John 3:1 NASB) And our heavenly Father will never abandon, abuse, reject, or refuse us. Ever!

WHAT I AM:  Paul wrote, “…we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us: we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (II Corinthians 5:20 NASB). As Christians, we’re not just children who wonder around with nothing to do. We are on a mission in a world that is not our home. We represent the Lord Jesus Christ. We’re called to be ambassadors—representatives of One who is greater than us. We are trying to offer light in place to darkness, truth instead of error, and hope in place of despair. You and I have a responsibility to bring people to Christ and Christ to people. And the Holy Spirit supplies our power to carry out this task.

looking-at-the-sea-1282219-mWHERE I AM:  No matter where we are in life, God sees us. His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me! And you! He never loses sight of us, even for a second.  Hebrews 4:13 says, “For there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (NASB) He sees us through eyes of love and acceptance. No matter how solitary our days may feel, we are never alone…never unnoticed…never out of His perfect sight.

WHY I AM:  Yes, my friend, take a moment and bask in the soul-cleansing glow of forgiveness. In Christ, we are pardoned. He is the perfect and only sacrifice for our sins. We are Christians, not because we deserve it, but because God has graciously “delivered us from darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14 NASB). Like John Newton, the author of the hymn Amazing Grace, we once were lost but now we’re found, were blind but now we see.

May these truths encourage you as you live your life for the glory of our King. May they strengthen you to be a good steward of whatever responsibility God has entrusted to you.

Larry W Timm is a husband, father, preacher, teacher, writer, child of God, and ambassador for Christ. He lives in south-central Kansas with his wife and two children. Larry loves the power of words. He is represented by Jessica Kirkland of The Blythe Daniel Agency. He’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and The Christian Writers Guild. He has been a two-time double semi-finalist in ACFW’s GENESIS contest, a finalist in ACFW’s FIRST IMPRESSIONS contest, and recently finished First and Third in the CATEGORY 5 contest sponsored by The Writers of the Storm (an ACFW Chapter in Texas).

Twitter:  @larrywtimm

Blog: www.larrywtimm.com

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/larrywtimm

Let’s talk about this. How accurately does your view of yourself line up with what God says about you? And how often do you put yourself down? It’s slightly cliche, but true, we are all our worst critics and tend to obsess over every weakness and imperfection while minimizing the good. But the Bible tells us, if we have surrendered to Christ as our Lord and Savior, we have been given the mind of Christ. So, how can we make our thoughts more closely aligned to God’s? This week, I encourage you to ask God to help you see yourself as He sees you. 🙂

I love this song by Third Day. Whenever I hear it, I think of how often we, God’s chosen children, walk around with shoulders slumped and faces downcast. But God wants to “lift up our face!” To restore our dignity, to transform our thinking, and to fill us to overflowing with the abundant, victorious, peace-filled life He promised. Will you let Him? Will you take your thoughts captive, refusing to dwell on negative thoughts, filling your minds and hearts with God’s truth instead?

LivingbyGracepicI’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook atLiving by Grace.