Perfect

photo-1444459094717-a39f1e3e0903Perfectionism is about pride, assuming that we can do it better. Better than someone else. Even better than ourselves.

God is perfect, yet he hands things over to us, knowing the result won’t be as good as if he took control of it, but relationships and practice and collaboration are so much more important than results. And be honest: even if we are perfectionist in one area, there are many more areas in which we are not, because we simply can’t excel or even try to excel in absolutely every area. If you take a look around your life, God might just open up your eyes to the areas that you need to give more attention to instead of focusing so much on your areas of perfectionism. And in the process, he will begin to loose your hold on perfectionism in other areas, prompting you to invite others into the process of growing, mistaking, learning, and refining.

Better

photo-1482834990796-28374fb4409fI told my daughter, “Here’s my approach to sleep…It’s not a good one, but it’s how I’ve made it work for awhile.” I like to give good advice and be helpful (and healthy). I fight hard to choose those things. But I’ve fought even harder for authenticity through the years. And I heard myself basically say to my daughter, “Do as I say, not as I do.” I chuckled to myself about it later.

I’m not perfect. No one is. I’m okay with that. But I’m not okay with where I am – at least in some areas. I acknowledge my imperfections but constantly want to improve – not toward perfection but toward better. I want to become the best version of me God intends, and that has more to do with my purpose and posture than anything else.

Be honest with yourself and others. Be willing to change. Admit your issues. It’s one step toward purposeful growth. You don’t have all the answers. God does. You can trust him.

77

photo-1463750907899-09643911554aThe week after my ex announced he wanted a divorce, my mom sent me a card to encourage me, to bring a faint ray of light into a stormy season. Hers was the second house I had retreated to on that black Saturday, the morning after his shocking words fractured my world. She saw me shattered.

In the weeks that followed, she sent more cards – one every week. They arrived like clockwork. Some prompted a slight smile or laugh; others prompted streams of tears. Some were sweet; others were borderline inappropriate. I loved every single one.

She had to get creative when shopping for cards. The divorce process dragged on much longer than expected. I told her she could stop. But she couldn’t. She was determined, and it was one way she could support and encourage me. (She also asked me hard questions and wrestled through understanding with me. That’s important support and encouragement, too.) We laughed a few times, reflecting on how much money she could have saved without buying and mailing all those cards, but she got a lot of bang for her buck. Each investment of a few dollars yielded a payout of encouragement.

77.

That’s how many cards Mom sent me.

77.

Probably a few more than either of us expected, but I appreciate every single one.

Sometimes when life seems uncertain, something consistent helps steady someone. Consider how you might encourage someone through his or her current season. It can be cards, texts, meals, or errands. Be a dose of stability in someone’s shaky season.

(Thanks, Mom.)

Sweet Fair

photo-1506711766036-e8032c1767caI grew up on the summer tradition of the county fair. My dad served on the fair board, and my mom worked in just about every building and tent at some point. We spent days leading up to the fair checking on progress, then pretty much lived at the fair for a week. We lived only a few miles from the fairgrounds, so we drove home and fell into bed quickly. But there were many nights I sat on the porch roof outside my window and watched the lights of the carnival rides and grandstand.

County fairs have changed through the years. Most have shrunk in size, activities, and attendance. Some have called it quits. There is rarely big name entertainment. It’s no longer a highlight or cost-effective, because people have more access to concerts throughout the year.

County fairs aren’t the same, but for me, they are still sweet. There is a sweetness of community, seeing people I know but don’t see in the summer or people I don’t know – friends and families making an event of the fair, a chance to get together and make memories.

I recently attended the county fair where I now live. The weather was perfect. Fair week weather so often is scorching hot or sopping wet. Not this one.

  • The sweetness of smells. Sure, not every country fair smell is sweet, but the mixture of it all is sweet to my memory.
  • The sweetness of catching up with a good friend, strolling and talking and sharing life.
  • The sweetness of watching the joy on my friend’s daughter’s face and in the skip of her step as she ran from ride to ride.
  • The sweetness of a strawberry shakeup. Okay, so maybe it was a bit too sweet, yet it was delicious.

There are many things in my life that have changed in the past couple years, but there are strong threads of consistency, too, reaching through the past. As I left the fair that evening, I took a deep, sweet breath of gratitude for the community and memories God provides and builds on.

Turn Well

photo-1521267431129-39af0a38056cI’ve watched it too many times. A couple of those have been up close and personal. Too close, too personal.

But I also get it.

How can someone live without God? Perhaps the more accurate question is how can someone live without acknowledging God, since he is part of our lives whether we acknowledge so or not. The discussion that follows usually begins to split into a couple different scenarios. There are reasons why someone who has never followed God continues down that path. Then there is the situation where someone followed God well but decided to turn away, to turn toward something or someone else, to replace God with themselves or a belief of something more comfortable.

And that’s why I say “I get it.” The turn toward comfort. The turn toward what we want instead of something outside of ourselves that might make us squirm, might challenge us, because growth often does. The turn toward pride and away from humility, because it stinks sometimes to sacrifice with a good attitude, being patient, forgiving, and generous in situations we’d rather pinch and claw and spit.

Just because I get it doesn’t mean it’s what I plan to choose. But because I’ve seen it up close and personal, because I’ve wrestled with God, because there are some situations in life that pretty much feel like “deja poo,” I get it.

Turning from God means getting to do life the way I want. Even if people try to hold me accountable to truth, I don’t have to listen anymore. I get to choose my way. I get to define happiness. I get to decide whether I’m responsible for something or if I’d rather just set it aside. I get to choose who stays in my life and who goes. How they respond or feel doesn’t make much difference. Usually, they’re wrong and I’m right. They just don’t understand. Turning from God means I get to put me first. And that can feel good.

But even if I get the reasoning behind turning from God doesn’t mean it’s truth. Turning from God always involves distorting truth, keeping what we want to claim as truth but inserting a lot of our own to fill the spaces to suit our comfort. Rejecting truth stunts our growth. Oh, sure, we still grow the way we define it, but is growth progressing or regressing? Are we doing more irreparable damage than we are aware? And when do we reach the tipping point of “I’ve gone this far already, so I might as well just be consistent. No sense in trying to struggle back now.”

God is worth the struggle. He is worth the humility, sacrifice, and forgiveness. He is worth life, because he is the one who determines worth.

Choosing him is not easy or comfortable. Choosing him is constant. Choosing him is costly. Choosing him is everything.

If you need help, reach out. Fight for faith, growth, truth. Choose to turn well.

Twisting the Lid

photo-1517245480009-64056ebabb49Sometimes we loosen the jar lid just enough for it to be easy for someone else to open it. Or sometimes someone loosens it for us. One person might work and struggle and try multiple approaches, but it doesn’t feel as if the lid budges.

Until it finally does.

People are similar. There seems to be little budging – until there is. One person works hard, and it seems easy for someone else. The person who finally gains access gets the credit even though little effort was needed because of someone else’s work.

And maybe that’s okay.

Our efforts are important but not always in the way we presume and prefer. Our efforts are important in the context of yielding to God and his purpose. We respond with humble effort and responsibility and trust God for his responsibility, influence, and timing.

We don’t need the credit. God ultimately gets the glory.

Reassurance

photo-1530739691532-66ad4a77a2bdMy youngest daughter teaches fifth grade. And she serves on the worship team at church, either singing or running video pretty much every Sunday. Several of last year’s fifth grade boys started hanging out with her in the sound booth, and she’s been teaching them and preparing them to service in the booth on their own.

They are capable. She knows it and has told them many times, including a recent Sunday which would be their first solo responsibility. She would be closeby. She left them in the booth before the worship service began. I walked in and asked for a mic and their eyes were big as they asked, “Where’s your daughter?!”

“She’s coming. She knows you are fine and can get everything started. She’ll be here soon.”

“We need her now.”

I smiled and reassured them then went to find her.

Sure enough, they did a great job. She stood nearby. She wasn’t needed for video help as much as reassurance.

Isn’t that how we often respond?

God knows we’re equipped and ready, but we don’t always feel that way. We second guess ourselves, but we don’t need to second guess him. We feel overwhelmed, but he never is.

With God, we are capable. And he is always standing by.