(This is part of the Enemies of Grace series. Click here to learn more.)
I knew this girl once. She was one of those annoyingly energetic types who’s always doing something—volunteering here, serving on a committee there, working on projects outside the home while somehow still keeping her house tidy and her kids on schedule. She was sweet and sincere and always knew the right thing to say. And I admired her.
But I also kinda hated her, ya know?
All her ability and spunk made me feel like less. While she always considered the next good cause to engage, I just felt exhausted. She seemed to juggle everything with precision and poise. I never felt like I was doing enough.
Everyone needed more from me—my husband, kids, school, church. This whole aching, broken world. And I just didn’t have enough to give.
Have you been there, friends?
As I’ve chatted with other Jesus followers over recent years, I’ve noticed one trend surfacing time and again: Many of us struggle with this feeling that we’re not measuring up. That we’re just not doing enough.
But enough of what?
The Measuring Stick
There’s constant noise around us, pointing our attention to things that get noticed by our culture. Well-run homes. Flourishing careers. Kids involved in an array of enriching activities. On-trend wardrobes. Well-toned bodies. Church involvement. Community engagement. Intelligent awareness of world events.
I could go on and on with this list, but frankly, I’m already overwhelmed with what’s there. Any one of these measuring sticks alone can be exhausting. Put them all together, and it’s no wonder we’re all trying to figure out what beauty product can erase the bags under our exhausted eyes.
I think we all know, in the deeper places, that these are impossible standards. That the One who lovingly created us didn’t design us for this life of constant pushing and hustling and striving to measure up.
And yet. We look around and see so many people doing so many incredible things. They seem to be measuring up, and we wonder: How are they pulling it off?
This is where I need to make a confession. About that girl I mentioned at the beginning of the post. You know, the one who had her act together and who was checking off all the boxes with seeming ease?
That girl was me.
Rewind my life several years back and you will find her, probably looking like a model Christian woman on the outside. But inside? I was at war with myself.
I was trying so very hard to be that strong, put-together woman I could admire. I wanted to be confident and capable, serving God well. But instead, I felt self-loathing and anger taking root in my parched soul. I was hiding a damaged, exhausted heart that felt like it could never do enough.
Ugh. I am so weary just remembering it.
I desperately wanted to love others well. But I felt increasingly disconnected from the source of Love itself. Impatience and criticism were more familiar visitors to my heart than peace and grace.
I remember sensing that something was off during those years That somehow in my endless efforts to please God, I was actually running away from Him. My mind understood His forgiving love, but my soul couldn’t quite embrace it. That “perfect” version of me just kept running, trying to add more and more “good” to an equation that was never going to add up.
The real me—the weak imperfect woman who was longing to be loved as I truly am—was just gasping for air.
Learning to Breathe
But you can guess the rest of the story, can’t you? God rescued me. Of course He did. It’s what He does.
He kept pursuing my stubborn heart until one day, I finally stopped running. I surrendered that mirage of a perfect Christian life I’d created and traded it for something real—the free and undeserved love of God.
I wish I could say it was a quick turnaround. But when you spend years trying to live out a false perfection, it warps you—you lose pieces of yourself along the way. In the years since that surrender, I’ve just been holding God’s hand as we walk together and try to put those pieces back together.
It’s been frustratingly difficult at times, this dismantling of the “old Amy.” It’s meant sorting through mixed motives and acknowledging what’s broken in myself. At the time, I thought I was being self-sacrificial with all my service. But now I see it for what it was: simple pride.
I couldn’t quite accept the idea that God would forgive and love my sin-stained heart. So I tried to earn His approval, using the world’s benchmarks of success as my guide.
I’m learning to let go of that performance-based faith. But it feels a bit like opening one of those Russian nesting dolls—every time I think I’ve finally gotten a handle on it, I find another layer of sin that needs to be dealt with.
But this journey has also been joy. Freedom. As I’ve let go of those perfect expectations I placed on myself, God’s helped me reconnect with the woman He created me to be. It’s like the more I’m learning to rest and be with God, the more I’m learning to be my true self.
Living More Like Grace
Recently, I heard a song for the first time on Spotify called “More Like Love.” I love the desire this song evokes: I want to live a life more like love. But you know what? We can’t love others well if we haven’t done business with grace first.
If we don’t fully embrace God’s patience and forgiveness of our faults, we tend to be unforgiving with the faults in others. If we can’t acknowledge our own brokenness, then we can’t experience true compassion for the brokenness of others. Perhaps most damaging of all—if we’re living a faith based on performance, we start judging those around us based on their performances too.
God’s grace untangles all these ugly threads: It frees us to love others—and ourselves—despite the imperfections, maybe even because of them. It helps us recognize God’s tender heart for everyone, no matter how strong or broken they appear.
Grace gives us quiet confidence to be ourselves, amidst all the noise telling us we need to be more.
That girl who looks like she has it all together? She doesn’t. And you don’t have to, either. Isn’t that good news?
I considered many names for this blog, but in the end “More Like Grace” settled in and made itself at home. Because isn’t that what we’re really longing for? More than a perfectly organized home, or a list of accomplishments, or another flurry of family fun activities, don’t we all just want a space where we feel loved for who we really are?
That’s grace. That’s what we need more of.
I hope you’ll join me in this space, where I’m praying we’ll experience more grace. I hope that in these posts and resources, you’ll be reminded of God’s grace, and encouraged to share it with those around you.
But I’m also a work in progress. Sometimes I still start looking for worth in all the wrong places. I wrestle and wonder. Maybe you do too. So let’s do this together. Let’s let go of perfect, and lean into love. Let’s abandon all the measuring sticks we were never meant to live up to. And seek a life that looks more like grace.