Our anxiety level increases when we believe statements like: “Disappointing my parents would be terrible” or “If I make a mistake in front of others it would be awful.” The truth is: it would be distasteful, painful, annoying, inconvenient – even sad, but not the end of the world.
I invite you to pray with me today: Lord, if I made a mistake, I’d be embarrassed. If my mate got mad at me, it would be extremely unpleasant. If I lost a parent, I’d be grief-stricken. But with your help I would endure, knowing that one day I’ll be with you and everything will be perfect.
Sometimes I get so drained trying to be the ideal wife, mother, friend, writer, daughter, sister, business owner, manager, speaker, teacher and Christian woman (that’s the most confusing one at times) that I just want to step down from my regular life, go away to figure “it” out, and return all fixed and safe for the future. But as Sandy Richardson and Susan Wilsie Govier, authors of Soul Hunger, remind me, “Safety doesn’t come from having all my ducks in a row.”
You’d think after all this time, I’d have the perfect (oops!) routine all formed, wrapped in a neat little package, and ready to open and use at a moment’s notice. It isn’t like that.
While I do have tools that help, I don’t have it (or me) all figured out. (Shock!) I still have to be persistent and deliberate about maintaining balance (saying yes to some things and no to others) and taking current action steps to experience the relief of imperfection.
I’m different than I used to be. Free-er. Less rigid. It doesn’t matter as much if something isn’t explained just right or folded correctly. I’m more willing to ask for what I need. (Though this is still hard for me at times.) I don’t feel as responsible for my husband’s happiness. I laugh more readily. And because of all this, I’m a grateful woman. I truly am.
Yet I’m certainly not perfect—and it’s in admitting and accepting this that I find such relief! I identify with Katie Brazelton, author of Pathway to Purpose who wrote, “As I left behind my unreachable Utopia and entered the real world of laughable flaws, I experienced a freedom I did not expect.”*
SO HOW ABOUT YOU? What happens when you try to get all your ducks to stay in a row? What makes you feel safe?
*Adapted from The Relief of Imperfection (at Amazon BARGAIN PRICE right now for $6 instead of $14.99. Ironically so is Brazelton’s book, Pathway to Purpose. We never know when the sale is going to show up or fade away. Maybe now is your time to get both! BTW, Soul Hunger is a good resource about Eating Disorders.)
People viewed tax collector Levi (also called Matthew) with contempt, yet Jesus chose him to be on His 12-man team.
Although I hesitate to admit this, at times I’ve made silent judgments about who is or is not spiritually mature. With the help of a couple of accountability partners, though, I’m becoming increasingly accepting of myself and others. It helps to remember that God is more interested in a person’s willingness and faith than whether they make faultless decisions or produce perfect plans. Oswald Chambers, author of My Utmost for His Highest, wrote, “The men and women our Lord sends out on His enterprises are the ordinary human stuff.”
I’ve noticed that some folks think they’ll never be good enough for God to use in His work, while others believe they have proved themselves to be extraordinary and He must utilize them and their talents. However, God doesn’t say, “You’re super-human; I’ll call you” or “She’s always right, I’ll send her.” God employs the ordinary people of this world—like you and me.
Lord, I’m not perfect, yet You choose to work in my life. I love that!
Make It Personal
What silent judgments have you made in the past about yourself and others? How did they help?
Today’s blog post is adapted from my devotional book, It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life. It’s on Kindle now!
According to the National Headache Foundation (NHF), over 45 million Americans suffer from various types of recurring headaches. Doctors report that the majority of these headaches are tension-related. The NHF suggests that “learning to live one day at a time” may relieve anxiety that contributes to the pain and inconvenience of muscle-contraction headaches.
GUEST BLOGGER: I’ve invited Jesus, well-known speaker/teacher, artist and savior of the world to be my guest blogger today. He recommends a similar philosophy which he highlighted in one of his spontaneous presentations and reiterates here:
AZ Desert Flowers near Canyon Lake
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers…don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax. …Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. …Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:30-34 The Message)
Another journalist reported Jesus’ message in a slightly different way: “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will brings its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matt. 6:34 NLT)
I realize that the elimination of all stress is impossible in this imperfect world. Yet, I do find it encouraging that intentionally living “one day at a time” can alleviate the pain of my overly-tight muscles. (Well, that’s an understatement!”)
Thank you to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for contributing to my blog today. What’s your response to his advice?
I sat in the auditorium next to the guests I’d invited to join me for this special event. While engrossed in the beautiful music, it dawned on me: Joan, you’re enjoying this concert for the sheer pleasure of it, without being preoccupied with your guests’ thoughts, feelings or reactions. I smiled then and I’m smiling now as I remember.
For years, an overzealous sense of responsibility overshadowed my personal enjoyment. When I invited another person to attend a church service, concert or even a luncheon, I felt duty-bound to see that she enjoyed the time and gained new insight. Now I realize that I’m not responsible for someone else’s perceptions, attitudes or knowledge.
Through my years of life coaching and speaking, I’ve noticed an epidemic of over-helping. Those of us who want to join God in His work sometimes live by a false premise that we must fix what’s broken, heal what hurts and right what’s wrong (in our opinion). This over-active sense of responsibility can lead us to believe that we’re more powerful than we really are. It’s exhausting.
God is the Almighty One, and He wants to release us from this unnecessary responsibility. He is the one in charge of the world, not us. When we give Him our shoulds, musts and ought-tos, we begin to live in genuine freedom. You and I are not responsible for anyone else’s life fulfillment. Only our own. What uncomplicated delight!
Yesterday a coaching client emailed me to let me know that she had just read the above devotional in my book, It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life. She wrote, “It hit the nail on the head with what I often feel with others.” Then she explained that she’s excited about letting go of the responsibility that isn’t hers.
What about you? What unreasonable I should or I must belief has worn you out and threatened to keep you from experiencing your own satisfaction or pleasure? I’d love to hear from you.
Joan C. Webb
Writing, teaching, coaching to empower and set free.