Confessions of a Recovering Performer

This post is an excerpt from “As I Am: Letting Go Of What Was Never Yours to Carry” by Ashlynn Elizabeth available now. All rights reserved.

Behind my knee jerk yeses to every request,

And my desire to control everyone’s experience of me,

Lies an inclination to search in creation

For what can only be found in my Creator.

She's intimidating. She's too serious. She's cold. She's too sensitive. She's insensitive. She's bossy. She's passive. She's dramatic. She's too calm. She's a “know it all.” She's this to some, and that to others- and it seems more convenient to store away who “she” is, and perform my way through this life. To be someone that I'm not. To learn my lines and play my role. To hide behind a face- any face, just as long as it isn't mine.

Failing to recall that I come from excellence, discounting the fact that I come from the hands of a faultless God. Trying so desperately to prove what has already been written on my heart- accepted, righteous, loved- all of which I searched for in creation. The longing to be liked is human but when looking to people for approval, I will always end up exhausted and disappointed. Juggling different sides of you for years on end, seamlessly morphing yourself into whatever might get an applause- what happens when you're faced with anything real? You bolt in the other direction and hide for cover. You wouldn't be able to withstand it. When real kindness, real affection, real confrontation comes your way- you can't help but run, deflect, or hide. Because what if this mask, this role, fails you?

At times so much of our efforts and energy is directed towards who we are said to be, while not enough importance is placed on who we actually are.

We spend so much time trying to portray a beloved character, instead of doing the work to actually build our character.

What if they say this about me?

What if they think this of me?

What if they don't like this about me?

When I dwell on my reputation and become performance based, then my heart is now focusing on what people think and how people will respond. And whatever your heart is set upon, you ultimately begin to worship. I’m very well acquainted with this fear but I am also aware that in fear, we become too eager to please the crowd and while doing so, we actually place the approval of man above the approval of God.

There's this notion that by performing your way through life, then that somehow makes you in charge and in total control of what people get to see. What you're really doing is allowing “people” to take up the throne of your heart. The heart is the place where we are connected with our Creator.

The more your heart is set aside from the things of God, the more you hinder yourself from the opportunity to stand in our truest identity.

The more likely you’ll end up placing it in the hands of unsustaining and emptying things. Aside from God, there is no one deserving of this space in your heart. There is nothing on this Earth that is worthy of that space. Your heart is so precious to God. Your heart is so valuable to Him. When unaware of this, we hand out free tickets and hold reserved seats to broken people, just like you, who are entirely incapable of filling that space.

There’s a dispersion that follows genuineness. A ripple effect, you could say, that comes with a heart that chooses to live with authenticity. In a way, choosing to refuse to perform is a gift not only to yourself but to those around you as well. It sets a tone, an inviting one. One that says, “you don't have to keep up the act around me.” It becomes an allowance that we offer others amidst a performance driven world.

When you know where your worth comes from, vulnerability isn't as scary. Defensiveness isn't your first response.

Because your identity is secure in Someone who offers security and safety. Someone who doesn't change. Someone who causes us to shift our gaze from self, and onto Him. Performing is completely egocentric, it suggests that every good reaction, every bad reaction, every rejection, every insult- is about you. It makes you constantly aware of your imperfections. It suggests that the way people respond to you is solely about you. That couldn't be further from the truth.

Be freed, for you have been made free. Free of performance, for we are already loved and chosen. We are already known and accepted. To succumb to the fear is an inequity, but to walk boldly in your God-given identity as a son or daughter of the most High, Creator of everything- is to live fully, wholly, and purposefully. To live confidently, not in your own performance, but in His glory and power being displayed through you.