by Amber Mills
My name is Amber and I have spots on my windows!
“You don’t know what it’s like to fail!” said my husband to me during a conversation about some recent events. Those eight little words cut so deeply they took my breath away. He wasn’t trying to hurt my feelings or boost my ego. It is simply how he sees me. Let me give you a little background so you can understand how this opened a very deep wound. As the oldest child in my family, I was always made to feel my choices influenced those younger than me. This is a weight most firstborn children feel. No biggie! However, somewhere during my time growing up, this expectation began to take on a life of its own. I can’t tell you if those raising me imposed it or if I took this on myself. However it came about, it became my life’s mission to obtain perfection. I didn’t strive for this intentionally, but in looking back, I see how this became a driving force in my life. My nickname became “Miss Goody-two-shoes” because our group of friends always expected me to do the right thing. Although, I would love to hear that statement said about my boys, as a teenage girl, it felt like a curse, like a sentence hanging over me scrutinizing my every action.
As a result of the pressure I felt, I poured myself into my schoolwork to hide from interaction, which resulted in grades every student wants. Thus, fueling the fire of expectations! I took every AIM missions trip I could possibly afford both time wise and financially to escape my reality. More fuel to the fire of expectations! I’ve never smoked. Fuel! Never had even a sip of alcohol. Fuel! I only had one boyfriend who eventually became my husband of now twenty years. A lot of fuel! I am a pastor’s wife and mom of four spirit-filled boys who all are involved in our ministry. I’m drowning in fuel at this point. I found my entire life completely consumed by a roaring fire of expectations! Sadly, I have lived my life feeling like a failure. Those eight words cut deeply because I DO know what it is like to fail. I frequently fail my husband in words and actions. I lose it with my boys over things like gym bags on the living room floor and individual dinner requests. I fail my church family by viewing them as obligations instead of opportunities. I fail in my ministry to women and girls by attempting to perform a life of perfection before them—an unattainable goal by anyone.
Those eight words spoken in that one moment caused my perception and my reality to collide. I allowed them to eat at me for a while. God and I had long talks about what those words represented in my life. After a lot of prayer and pondering, I have come to a conclusion: I am not perfect! But I am also not a failure. Striving to be what others expect will always end in failure because this is a sinful world and we are imperfect people. Striving to live in the center of His will and be what God expects us to be will always end in a life of perfection because God is good and His will for our lives is perfect!
God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true.
In ministry, we allow unattainable expectations to be placed on us. We kill ourselves to never take a wrong step—frequently showing a false side. The pressure of living in the fishbowl is real. It is a fact that we are watched. But trying to live, raise a family, and minister under these expectations is like trying to clean your windows blindfolded. No matter how hard you try, there will always be spots. You can push yourself beyond your physical capabilities, but you will still have spots on your windows.
So, why don’t we all try something new. Let’s be okay with the spots on our windows. Let others see dirty dishes in our sinks, laundry piled up, and imperfect families. Let them see our hearts break at times and at others burst with excitement over this imperfect life that we have been called to live. God doesn’t care if we have spots on our windows as long as when people look through them, they see Him! We need every bit of energy we can muster to walk this ministry path. Let’s not waste it on fueling the fire of expectations.
I am a SOMO girl through and through. I was saved, baptized with the Holy Spirit and called into ministry at SOMO Kid’s Camp. My heart is working with women and girls, even though I have a house full of boys. My husband, Greg Mills, and I grew up in the same church in Joplin, MO. We have been married for 20 years. We have served in full time ministry for 19 of those years. We are the lead pastor’s at Camdenton 1st A/G in Camdenton, MO. We have 4 boys which I homeschool. Brandyn, 18 is a freshman in college. Zach, 16 is a sophomore. Camryn, 14 is in 8th grade. My little Kyle is 9 years old and in 3rd grade. I serve as the Children’s pastor and women’s leader in our church as well as the sectional Women’s and Girl’s Ministries rep. I have worked as a children’s pastor for over 15 years. Kids are the key not only to our survival as a church but also in our endless pursuit to evangelize our world. They must be taught who we are, why we are, and what we are truly called to do and be. To be able to walk along side these little ones as they discover these truths for themselves is both a blessing and personally inspiring beyond measure.