Be Perfect – Is That Possible for the Woman of Faith?

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48(NASB). 

As if there wasn’t enough to worry about, I have to be perfect too.  This week was a tough one business wise and personally.  Maybe because of celebrating another birthday for my son which made me realize how time is ticking on for me.  Maybe it’s trying to find the perfect way to revise NACWIB to be more responsive to the needs of the members.  Maybe it’s just being tired from all the traveling I’ve done over the past two weeks. 

Whatever it is I asked the Lord to give me some direction. So He told me through prayer “Be perfect.”  You’d think a busy, trying to be professional Christian woman would get a break.  But God is a God of perfection. Therefore He doesn’t pull punches by giving us a day off from doing the right thing in every aspect of our lives.  And as women of faith we should all be thankful for that.

Here’s the deal.  In striving to revive the National Association of Christian Women in Business (NACWIB) it started to get a bit tough.  What do people really want?  What do I provide to be a real service to the members?  I was tossing and turning at night trying to figure this all out.  Then the problem became obvious.  I had gotten away from the focus I keep telling members to keep; keep the focus on God first and only. 

For some reason trying to go in a new direction with the Association made me feel unsure.  I tried to write posts to encourage you to keep moving forward in your business and I got stuck.  I wanted to tell you not to give up and I felt like a fake.  It felt too hard; I wanted to give up.  The easy thing to do would have been to keep writing as if nothing was wrong, like I had it all together.  Don’t I have to appear like I have it all together and tell the members how easy it is to keep going and never have a bad day?  The easy thing would have been to fake it till I made it.  But there’s a real problem with that when it comes to NACWIB. 

The questions I should have been keeping in the forefront included, what does God want for this organization? How would the Lord be glorified through the messages sent to the mailing list subscribers?  What would He do to benefit the membership at this particular time?  These were the type of questions that would begin the right shift for NACWIB – and for my life.  

I made a commitment long ago to create this Association to serve the Lord and be a blessing to you.  Therefore, I get stopped in my tracks when I’m not open and honest.  Sometimes, I really hate that.  I don’t feel “powerful” or like I’m in control the way I feel I’m supposed to be.  Instead of feeling like a powerful, empowered leader, I start to feel weak. But in that, I finally figure out how to gain real strength. 

In my weakness I remembered to call on the Lord to give me the topics to write about or to know the direction to move in.  I asked Him to show me how to do the work.  As I started pouring out my heart to Him last night He gave me the verse “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48. 

I don’t know about you but this verse has always given me a double reaction.  First of all, I want to do the right thing before the Lord.  Secondly, I feel I’ll never be able to rise up to the task of being perfect according to what I thought this verse required.  So I tried to shake off the truth that this verse was given to me for this time. 

As you know, when God gives you something it’s going to stick for a long time.  Ignore it long enough and eventually the intensity start to fade a bit.  You might even be able to chase the thought to the back of your mind periodically.  But it will never go away for good.  I learned this a long time ago so I know to start praying about this instead of trying to fight it.  There are times when women of faith are required to face the hard commands if we like it or not and usually especially when we like it or not.  However, this is actually something God makes doable.

The Bible verse “be perfect” means to be complete, to reach a level of maturity in spiritual integrity that lets us exist in the world in a way that is a reflection of God.  God tells us to be set apart so we can be like Him.  Being exactly like God of course is impossible.  To reach the fullness of perfection will never happen as a human being.  Even the most powerful of the Biblical saints had their moments of frailty and outright sin.  Knowing that could actually provide a moment of relief.  But still a woman of faith can assess the grace to escape every temptation to overcome sin (1 Corinthians 10:13). 

Today, finding and accessing that grace is a real task.  More than ever the opportunity to fall off the wagon in the pursuit of perfection is more possible than ever.  Temptations include the normal daily interactions between people, accessibility to social media outlets, negative television programming, excuses to be angry, old problems that are unforgiven,  things that are confusing and lead to wrong choices, and on and on and on.  Doubts creep in, worry stops by to spend the night, sin happens.  You feel stuck, unworthy, like a fake, and get flooded with a lack of confidence. 

But that doesn’t take away the responsibility from Christian business women to be perfect.  Believe me, I wish it did.  Some days I’m just like any other normal business woman.  Sometimes I just want to slack off or forget about pushing forward in making this Association better.  I want to sit back and just hope people find the website, sign up, and become a member without putting in the effort to show them why it’s important or how joining will make their life better.  But that’s falling short of trying to reach a higher level of spiritual integrity as a Christian woman and a woman of spiritual integrity.  

Like every woman of faith my choice needs to be to decide to embrace that demand as a blessing.  I will be perfect.  I will pursue the integrity of doing business not only as something for other people but as a blessing to the Lord.  By making Him the focus of my everyday thoughts and activities I continue to seek being perfect.  I pray that you will be blessed as a result.

Smart Ways to Free Yourself from Guilty Feelings

If you are human, you have made mistakes before. Some of these mistakes can lead to feelings of guilt. But, you don’t have to live with guilt. There are ways to move on with your life.

What is guilt? It is best described as the feeling of inadequacy that follows a mistake or a blunder. Sometimes, it isn’t even a blunder to anyone other than to the person feeling guilty.

It is not uncommon to make mistakes. We are all capable of it. But what follows that mistake? If someone else is hurt physically, mentally or financially, you may feel a sense of responsibility to make it right. This is the beginning of guilt.

Whether you hurt someone intentionally or by accident, confessing the wrong can put the situation in perspective. Either the person will forgive you or not. If it is a criminal act, you will be punished or absolved of guilt according to the law.

But, even after all of this happens, what can make a person continue to feel bad about what they have done? Guilty feelings that continue usually start before the incident that evoked the guilt.

What can cause guilt? Here are a few suggestions.

* Criticism – If you are exposed to criticism all the time, you may feel inadequate. This inadequacy could be directed at you or at a certain task you perform.

* Lack of resolution – If you can’t talk to the person you hurt then there is a distinct lack of closure. This can result in you making up scenarios in your mind that revolve around feelings of not being forgiven for the act. You may try harder with others to not hurt or offend them as a result of not being able to make amends in this case.

* Unfulfilled expectations – Some people feel guilty just because they can’t live up to others’ expectations. They feel the disappointment over what they are not, so that who they truly are doesn’t seem to matter.

So how can you counter guilty feelings?

* Take a realistic view of yourself – Each person makes mistakes. Use them as learning experiences. No one is perfect, but you can try to do better the next time.

* List your good qualities – We all have some. Keep this list handy for times when feelings of inadequacy creep back in. Post it on your refrigerator and the bathroom mirror.

* Avoid comparisons – It is the kiss of death. Sure, we all do things differently, but that doesn’t make one method better than another. If you compare yourself to someone else, you are sure to come up short on some point. That is a good way to trigger debilitating guilt.

* Counter negative thoughts – Stop negative thoughts about yourself in their path. When you have one, counter it with a positive affirmation.

Guilt is a destructive emotion that can hurt you long after the triggering event has passed. Learn to let go and move on.

Why Do You Hold Back?

Does it feel like you’re holding back on your real purpose and talents?  Do you feel that you’re only living life half way?  Don’t get too hard on yourself if that’s what you feel.  There seems to be some type of epidemic going on with professional, mid-life women. 

Today I had the chance to really get down and real on this topic with some good gal friends.  I told them that I’m revamping my life, business, and approach to things.  I’m letting go of stuff that just isn’t working anymore.  Sure it means walking away from projects that have taken a lot of time and money.  (The money part hurt somewhat I must admit).  But I had to figure out that it was time to just “cut bait” as they say. I came to the realization that I’m throwing good money after bad by trying to make something work that isn’t going to get anywhere.

Sure , my ideas were good, if I wanted to work half-way for the rest of my life. Instead of looking at my true talents and abilities, I had become a copy cat. Just like the thousands or maybe even tens of thousands of other people on or off the Internet, I had put my talents into a little box that only repeated what others were doing but in a different way. 

I had let go of what makes me unique.  So I had to stop, do some really hard praying about it and make the decision to start over again – fresh.

I’m feeling great now and I wanted to share this with my buddies.  Sometimes you have to just know when to stop and start over again. The time is now – not tomorrow or another day from now.  The time is now.  When you know it’s time to start living fully, you have to stop holding back with your life.

What Does Holding Back Do?

If you think about it, not living your life fully has no benefits for you or anyone else.  Here’s what I’ve found holding back does (these are not in any particular order) :

1. Frustrates you.  You live frustrated everyday. You can end the day looking back and wondering “what did I achieve today – anything?”  That comes from living outside of your purpose. You can’t feel like you’ve progressed or added to the goodness of life because whatever you did for that day didn’t take you any higher in knowing or being.  It was just a repeat of yesterday and the day before.

2. Keeps You Depressed. Depression is a lot of what it says – something that presses you down. The feeling of being heavy and carrying useful weights is a sign of depression. You don’t feel that your mind is working fully.  In fact, you might even worry that you’re not thinking straight and might be “losing it.”  You’re not challenging yourself to think better.  Holding back requires that you don’t come up with new ideas or better thoughts.  It requires maintaining a depressed point of view.

3. Makes You “Un-Exciting”: Do you know any woman, including you that doesn’t want to be considered an exciting person?  It’s only natural to want to be someone others have an interest in.  But holding back on your life talents and real purpose means you have nothing to add to the conversations that surround you.  The best you can do is just agree or disagree with what others are saying.  Sometimes you can’t even do that because you’ve stopped having confidence in your opinions. It’s exciting to have ideas and thoughts but holding back doesn’t allow that to happen.

4. You Stop Seeing the Light: Something that keeps people going when times get difficult it’s knowing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. That means you see that spark of hope to get you through the tough times.  But holding back means you’re not moving forward towards anything.  You’re essentially standing still. You don’t want to move out of your comfort zone because you’ll have to think about new things.  Instead, you go where you’re accustomed to going, do what you always do, read the same books over again and watch the same TY shows – and a lot of reruns.  You avoid the light and put a screen over anything that might try to shine through. Living in the dark is how you stay on hold.

5. You Live Cluttered: Have you stopped to consider that holding back means keeping yourself surrounded by old stuff, too much stuff and a never -ending to-do list?  Clutter can constipate life flow. Instead of getting new ideas you’re always trying to finish up old stuff.  Instead of getting something new and fashionable to wear, you put on the same old thing you’ve worn for five years and never feel comfortable and beautiful. Instead of trashing junk you keep it in case it pays off but all that does is take up space where something of beauty should be. Holding back means holding on to what no longer has usefulness in your life.  You have to let go to move ahead.

I suppose the question still remain “why do you hold back?'” Hopefully putting some of the things out in front that result in holding back will jog something in your mind to make you think about this.  Why do you hold back?  When you do you intend to start living?

Push Through the Fear to Succeed

Everyone has certain fears.  To say you don’t is denying being human.  A fear that most people deal with from the biggest celebrity to the woman next door is the fear of failure.  No one wants to fail, no matter how small the potential failure might be. Fear of failure can keep you up at night and keep you from trying new things. A fear of failure is the major reason most women never reach their full potential. 

One  huge difference between women who achieve the life they want to live and other women is that they learn to face their fears and control them.  They refuse to let the fear of failure control them or hold them back. Decide to stop letting the fear of failure steal the goodness you deserve and desire in life.  Here are a few keys to get fear under control. 

1. Keep the Big Picture in View. Stop looking at the little picture in a situation. Instead, step back and look at the big picture.  In the whole scheme of things, in the whole of your life, how big is the situation that you really fear? Are you trying to get a job and afraid you won’t?  What’s the worse that can happen?  Are you trying a new business and afraid it won’t work out?  What can you do to be sure that it will work out instead?  Stepping back to take a bigger look at the situation takes away a lot of fear because you realize exactly how the situation fits into a bigger picture. 

2. Take a Positive Outlook. One reason fear can set in and stifle your actions is because you start off thinking negative.  If all you think about is how awful something is going to be, of course you’re going to have fear.  In fact, that means you start to create the foundation for the failure to happen.  Remember, what you concentrate on you draw to you. If you really think you are going to fail, the likelihood is that you will.  As bad as it sounds, you usually get the desire of your heart in life. 

You might not think that you are drawing failure to yourself but thinking only negative is doing just that.  Adjust your thinking.  Start thinking about how wonderful it will be when you have a positive outcome instead. Say a prayer, recite positive affirmations and do positive visualizations of the best outcome possible. 

3. Stop and Breathe.  Does fear seem to overtake you sometimes?  Does it make you feel like you can’t even breathe?  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking a few moments throughout the day when needed to step back, take a few deep breathes and stop feeling overwhelmed by the fear.  Often, fears are built up in the mind more than the actual reality of them. 

That’s not to negate that sometimes you really might have some terrible things to fear. That’s a whole different story.  But the majority of time, things are not as bad as you  make them out to be.  When you start to feel the panic of fear taking control of you and your decisions or reactions, step back, recognize the fear, become conscious of it, and assess it. Define the reason you’re afraid, analyze it and decide what you’re going to do about it. Take control of the emotion instead of letting the emotion take control of you.

4. What’s the Real Issue?  Fear is often about something that is hidden from your immediate thoughts.  In other words, you might think you’re afraid of one thing when it’s really another.  For example, say you get invited to a networking event that would be great to grow your business.  At first, it sounds great, but then you start to get afraid. You might think it’s because you don’t want to meet new people or that you won’t have anything appropriate to wear.

Instead of stopping to think about what you’re afraid of you allow an unconscious fear to keep you from something you really need to.   Stop to analyze what your feelings.  Perhaps you know that people at that networking event will have to make a short introduction of themselves and their business.  The idea of speaking in front of others is what you really fear. When you analyze a situation, take control of it.  Plan your presentation well ahead of time.  Practice it until you feel comfortable. Instead of letting an unconscious fear keep you back, figure out what you’re afraid of and do something about the fear.

5. Prepare Yourself Better. Fear of failure is often based on not feeling prepared to meet new challenges that confront you either in an expected or unexpected way. When you don’t feel equipped to meet challenges you become afraid to get caught unprepared.  But you will always feel that way if you run from challenges instead of meeting them head on. 

The only thing to do is get prepared.  If necessary, take courses to improve your knowledge in a certain area. Get coaching or mentoring from someone with a lot of experience in the areas you want to learn. Go to museums, take trips and meet new people. Listen to opinions, read books, and watch movies in another language. Your mind is yours to grow so take control of what you know and increase your knowledge to overcome fear of failing in new areas.

When it comes to fear, you have two choices – control your fear or let it control you. Accept that feeling fear is simply a part of being human. The choice is yours to learn how to control your fears so you can succeed anyway.

Confident Enough to Succeed

Having confidence in yourself is a first step towards success.  Without true confidence you might get some hit and miss successes but sustained success will be difficult to achieve. Here are a few tips to help you gain the confidence to succeed.

1. Check Your Thoughts. Surely you’ve heard about positive thinking but have you heard about the importance of applying this to yourself. Have you ever stopped to think about how you think about yourself?  If you hold negative thoughts about yourself on a regular basis you won’t be able to build your confidence. Think positive self-thoughts to start on the road to building lasting self-confidence.

2. Forgive and Forget. Everyone messes up in life but self-forgiveness is one of the toughest things to do.  You don’t have to live in regret for mistakes you’ve made for the rest of your life.  Forgive yourself and do what you can to make what was wrong, right again.  Then move on and turn what happened into a life lesson that lets you know what not to do again.  Forget about the mistake but remember the lesson learned.

3. Respect Your Purpose.  Everyone is born with a purpose in life.  That means you have something to share with the world. The part of the world you might affect could be just one other person; but that is still necessary to do.  Stop worrying just about yourself and your own position. Think about the bigger picture of why you’re here and your confidence will start to grow again because you’re focused on helping others.  

4. Enhance Your Image. Do you have concerns about your appearance? Does how you look steal your confidence away?  Then do something about your image.  Go to a store and ask for help in selecting styles that are fashionable and look good on you. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on an outfit; just find out your style. You can find pieces for a wardrobe in different places even consignment or thrift stores to start.  Learn to select quality, style and a good fit.  That’s a great start to building a more confident image.

5. Don’t Take it Personally.  Things happen that might hurt your feelings; but it’s important to not take things personally all of the time.  Some things are going to occur if you’re around or not.  You might feel slighted but if you hadn’t been there, would the same thing have happened to someone else?  If so, don’t take the situation personally.  Learning that it’s not always about you is important to be able to get over problems and move on to the next life event.

6. Say “No” to a Bad Day.  Don’t let other people spoil your day. When you let others have control over whether or not you will have a good day, you give them the power over your emotions.  For instance, what if a person walks into your workplace in a bad mood?   That’s not your problem unless you allow that person to affect your mood.  Don’t let that person’s attitude provoke you into saying or doing something you’ll regret.  Just think in a positive way and consider how you can deal with the situation in a way that will make things better for everyone involved.  

7. Keep Going. Sure things get tough. That’s a part of life.  In fact, it is true that the more you learn to deal with in life the more you will face even more difficult issues.  This increases your skills, life lessons and abilities to take a lead in decision making and in your life.  You can only get to this level if you keep going and don’t give up with the going gets tough.  Get the mentoring you need to go through tough times. Find out how others have made hard decisions and seek the wisdom of mentors to help you grow.  Just keep going until you reach your goals and you will find that you have the confidence to succeed.