My name is Tara Teng and I’m new here to the Faith Strong Today family. I’m best known for winning Miss Canada, having loud opinions on social justice, getting banned by the media in China, my love of ethical fashion and eating far too many tacos. Any quick Google search of my name will pull up awards and recognition, photos from pageant days past and a carefully curated social media presence to reflect my personal “brand” to the world.
From the outside looking in, it’s easy to believe the lie that everyone else has it all together. Throw in a few social media filters plus the societal pressure to be perfect and you’ve got the makings of a real problem.
Because the reality is that we aren’t perfect, we aren’t always good humans and every single one of us battles with feelings of imposter syndrome, varying degrees of insecurity and wondering if we will measure up to the impossibly high standards we set for ourselves or others set for us. But all this striving and seeking to keep it all together is exhausting. And lonely. And the opposite of authentic.
Most of all, it doesn’t leave any space for God to do His work.
If I have it all together, then why would I need God?
If I can get where I need to go on my own, why would I need to trust His orchestrating of my life?
If I could make doors open, heal broken hearts, and command mountains to move, then why would I need to wait on His miracles to reflect His glory?
Within Christian culture,there is an unspoken standard that anyone in leadership must have it together. We can publicly acknowledge that we are not perfect but we are supposed to at least get to a certain point in our walk with God before we stand leading others. And while I do agree that a measure of spiritual maturity is important, because character and integrity matter in leadership, it’s not about what I can earn by my own merit because the truth is I am disqualified. I won’t ever measure up to God’s standard on my own. There will always be more mistakes in my future but that doesn’t define me anymore. I don’t stand on my own merit; I stand on grace.
I’m not perfect and I don’t ever want to give the impression that I am or strive to be. Something with the new age of social media it’s even easier to give off the impression that we have it all together but I’m just a simple woman seeking to live a beautiful, messy, fully, passionate life. I’m gonna make some serious mistakes along the way (already have) but I am so grateful for the tribe of people who choose to love ALL of me, good, bad, light and dark.
If you are new to Jesus or need a reminder, I hope you know this faith is all about unconditional love that sees beyond the mess. Jesus loves us so desperately that leaving us in our mistakes, in our shame or in our pain isn’t an option. Instead, Jesus brings us instead through the mess and into freedom, into reconciliation, into a whole new way of living and experiencing the world.
What a freedom this is! No longer do I have to strive to be perfect, no longer do I to work to impress, everything in my life is based upon the foundation of what Jesus has done.
I invite you to join me in this new, radically free way of living. We’re not going to have it all together, but that’s what trusting Jesus is for. He’s the God of the misfits and that place where we can call home.