I spent a fair amount of my time counselling people through a variety of difficulties. It is a wonderful privilege to serve people in this way. What a blessing to see someone freed from a burden that has plagued them! Of course, it is very difficult to work with someone who can’t break free from things that trouble them.
I often encounter one particular problem that challenges many people. This is the problem of false standards. The use of incorrect standards manifests itself in many damaging ways. We hurt ourselves and others when we set standards that don’t match up with God’s.
People often say things along the lines of, ‘I should be coping better than I am with ______.’ Often the thing they are referencing is linked to a trauma that would take anyone years to get over, but they believe they should have it sorted by the end of the week. If they don’t ‘fix themselves’ in the time frame that they have falsely set, they are abject failures and the self abuse begins.
The problem with acting like this is that not only is it unfruitful, it is actually blocking true healing and progress. As we beat ourselves, or others, up for repeated failure, we are reinforcing the myth that we can fix ourselves and sort everything out so we won’t have any more problems. So we get up and try again and shock….dismay!…we fail again.
Consider the story of the Bible. I am often asked why we have the Old Testament (OT). Besides making our Bibles heavy and impressive looking, what is the purpose? I use the following illustration: Imagine God sets out a huge barbell and starts loading weights on both sides. He then says to everyone, ‘If you can lift this, you can be in relationship with me.’ Person after person in the OT gave it a shot and they all failed. God set the standard with the Law of Moses and everyone failed. Now Jesus bursts on the scene and it should be obvious to everyone at this point that no one is good enough to meet God’s standard (FYI, THIS is the point of the OT). But then, against all odds, this carpenter from Galilee lifts the weight! And not only that, but in lifting it, he makes it so that no one ever has to try and lift it again!
Now back to me and you…
When we say things like, ‘I should be…’ or ‘Why can’t things just…’ or ‘SoandSo doesn’t give me….’, we are setting false standards. The truth from God is that you aren’t good enough, so don’t say, ‘I should be able to…’. The truth from God is that this world is broken and imperfect, so don’t expect everything to always go the way you want them to. The truth from God is that everyone else is as broken as you are, so don’t expect others to give you everything you need.
The TRUTH is that Jesus came to seek and save the lost, and we are ALL LOST without Him. The TRUTH from God is this: Jesus + your best= good enough.
So don’t set false standards for yourself or others. If you are 30ish and single, don’t let a false standard rule your life. Jesus seemed to make a difference in that circumstance…so can you! If you are getting older and your physical body is limiting you, don’t let a false standard rule your life. There are things we can all do in the service of our God. If you have been brought up by parents who chained you with these false standards, know that you have an older brother who wants to set you free!