When I was in junior high I remember one of my teachers, Coach Torres, making me stand up at the front of class. He called me "Miss Perfect" and mocked me. I don't know (or don't remember) what prompted this but it happened several times. The persona stuck through high school. I was a growing Christian, but it made me stumble because the label made me feel that I needed to act a certain way and follow certain rules. When I successfully followed rules it was easy (and natural) to attribute it to myself. I liked rules because they were safe and weren't hard for me to follow. I was missing the meaning of God's grace, therefore I couldn't show it to others. If someone messed up I was confused...it's not that hard to be good-I'm doing it.
Even back in high school I realized my proclivity to be a Pharisee. It's easier and feels more natural to be a Pharisee than a true Christian. It's easier to follow a checklist of black-and-white laws. Works-based salvation is alluring to a people-pleasing rule-lover like me. When I meet expectations it's ME who did it. Go me ("me" is one of Karl's favorite words right now-he reminds me of my natural bent to exalting myself every day.) True Christianity is like taking a giant step off a cliff every day. Sometimes you feel like you're just going to fall with that first step. But regardless of how hopeless it looks and feels, the Holy Spirit, through God's grace, supports and carries you to the other side. (Faith is not about feeling secure.) It's scary to fully relinquish control to the Holy Spirit to guide you. Some areas of life are harder than others to let go of (like parenting for me-and my oldest is only 2-ha.) Sometimes you stay hovered on the cliff so that you feel like you're in control until God causes an earthquake to get you stepping out in faith. When you get to the other side you feel like an idiot for not stepping out sooner--until you have to do it again. Especially when you're crossing pretty much the same bridge for the fifth time.