When You Can’t Live up to Expectations

Once a week I give a drawing class to six of the missionary kids on our ministry training campus.

This week’s class ended with four-year-old Mariah crouched under the table crying and shaking, overwhelmed with defeat.

The boat she drew didn’t look quite like she wanted it to. It didn’t look like her seven-year-old sisters, mine, or even how she had probably imagined it to look.

And that’s how I feel about life some days, or even about myself.

Life isn’t quite what I imagined it would be and sometimes doesn’t look like I would like it to. It doesn’t look my best friends or those I work with here in Costa Rica.

And I find myself crouched under the table crying and shaking, overwhelmed with defeat.

We’ve all heard the saying you’re your own worst critic. Whether you’re a perfectionist or not we all have days when we feel down on ourselves and bad about something going on in our lives.

It’s those days I can feel literally crushed under the weight of the expectations and standards I place on myself.

And when I close the door and I’m by myself it’s like I am suddenly confronted with how incapable I am, how little control I actually have, how much I allow fear and insecurity and shame to decide. In the quiet of solitude amongst the chaos of expectation and status and demand, I’m suddenly confronted with the reality of how tired and broken I really am.

There is a common mindset nowadays that says if you just look at things from the right perspective and if you say the right positive affirmations enough times throughout the day the brokenness within you will be fixed and filled. You essentially hold the power to cure your depravity.

For years, and even now, I have depended on my own right thinking and positive words of self-affirmation to make me a better human, the kind of person I want to be, the kind of person that something within me longs to be.

Whole. Complete. At peace. Lovable. Pure.

But the reality is no matter how many times I’ve spoken these things over myself the brokenness remains and I am left empty handed with a deep tiredness in my soul sleep can’t cure.

Lately, I have been wondering what would happen if instead of quickly trying to cover and conceal my own shortcomings, instead of trying to convince myself that I am fine, what if in that moment of defeat I just accepted my depravity, my imperfection, my failures and my shame.

And what if in that moment of acceptance I allowed my need for redemption to grow, to come to the forefront of my mind and heart.

And what if in that very moment of humility and brokenness, what if it’s there that Jesus will meet me.

So often I get caught up on being a “good person” or a “good Christian.” My life becomes about how well I can keep myself together, appearances up, and everybody around me happy.

It becomes about how can I advance and elevate and better myself for Jesus rather than how can I come before Him raw and vulnerable and in need so that He may be elevated and that we can sit together, relating one to another the shame and betrayal and difficulties we’ve faced.

Sometimes, crouched down on my knees with tears in my eyes is the exact place I need to be. 

And when you can’t live up to expectations, you can feel like dying — or running away. I can forget the gospel Truth of Grace faster than you can say Pinterest Perfection and this is the Gospel Truth: preaching gospel to yourself everyday is critical — otherwise it’s your very life that’s in critical condition.


You can feel lost — and already be found.


You can feel Christ hardly tolerates you — but Christ is 100% FOR You.


You can feel Christ barely wants you — but Christ is Always WITH You.


-Ann Voskamp

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Antje Moore says:

    You have brought comfort to your troubled Gram and I thank God for you in my prayers always. Nothing’s better except I know I’m not so alone and I’m reminded of where to take my “overwhelmed”. Thanks honey pot. I love you dearly Gram

    Sent from my iPhone



    1. I love you gram thank you for sharing that!! 🙂 I am missing you always


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