I am (100 percent) the person you made fun of in middle school or high school or college.
I’m the person who cared way too much about getting an A+ or having the best and greatest project or making sure their presentation is flawless. I am (100 percent) a self-proclaimed perfectionist.
I remember when I was in seminary and a friend of mine gave me permission to not make an A. They told me (really counseled me) through times in life when we can’t make an A on EVERYTHING… so we must embrace it, do our best, and move on. It was extremely liberating. And so (after heeding this much needed advice), I went home, studied my 8-month pregnant butt off for my upcoming Hebrew exam… and made an A. It’s a serious problem.
I can’t, NOT give something 100 percent. It’s just not in my nature.
And God knows this. Part of me think this is why every time I have a major life change or exam in my life…I wind up pregnant. Seminary and taking Hebrew…. pregnant. Ordination exams and new job… pregnant. I’m thinking I might take a little break from being pregnant.
But seriously, God had to practically break me down in order to make me realize I can’t do it all, 100 percent, perfectly… ALL. THE. TIME.
And I hate this lesson.
Because I hate disappointing people. I hate disappointing myself. And I hate the realization that I… Can’t. Do. It. All.
Recently, I had a conversation with a friend and she mentioned feeling overwhelmed in all areas of life. She felt like a terrible mom, wife, daughter, and friend. She was discouraged because she felt like she was only giving the people around her 20 percent (at best).
And something inside of me completely resonated with her.
I feel the pressure and frustration and discouragement of not being able to give those around me an A+ ALL the time.
So it got me thinking… we all will go through seasons when this is so true. Whether we are a mom or dad or friend or just flat out crazy busy.
So what do we do? How do live, push on, and change things up when 20 percent is the new 100?
I’m not big on the “Top 5 ways to…” blog posts but I’m caving in and telling you the top 5 things that have helped me in my “breaking perfectionism” journey…
#1. Kill the %$!! out of that 20 percent.
If that’s all you’ve got, then give it a solid 20. Seriously. So often I spend the majority of my time discouraged by what I can’t do instead of focusing on what I can. So for me it’s about focusing on the positive. Remaining set on whatever “percentage” I can (realistically) give, & then choosing to give it that to the best of my ability. Easier said than done, but hey, I’m trying.
#2. Revaluate your priorities.
Make sure 20 percent is a season NOT a lifestyle. We all will have seasons when it’s just ridiculously busy/tough/challenging. But when 20 percent becomes the norm… that’s when it’s time to make sure you are doing what matters most. It’s always during these crazy busy, challenging seasons when I get to a breaking point and really step back to make sure I’m doing what I want to, feel called to, and am gifted at doing. Reevaluation is not a bad thing. It helps us remain focused on what’s most important and to make sure we’re moving in the right direction.
#3. Be patient through the season.
This is the hardest one for me. But it’s so true… BE PATIENT. Tommy is constantly reminding me, during the 20% times in life, to remember this is a season… NOT forever. So true. I am constantly needing to remind myself of this. This is a moment when kids aren’t sleeping or work is in full swing or calendars are filled- this is NOT the norm. And so pushing through these times, remaining focused on what matters, and being patient through the season makes all the difference.
#4. Find a breathing space.
Find a place, a time where you can take a deep breath and get centered. For me it’s in a small chair in our living room where I get real with God. I am honest and brutal and tell Him what’s going on. Oh and I have a HOT cup of coffee with me (this is KEY). Find your place that gets you right and be diligent about going there when things are at a 20.
#5. Get with your people.
Talk it out with the people who love you the most. They will tell you- it’s a season, it’s you, it’s whatever it is… but your people will know. Find those people. Get those people. Be one of those people. They have been my lifeline through the seasons.
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Our culture is fast paced and demanding.
The busier the better. The more challenged, the more rewarded… it’s incredibly hard to not get caught up with it all. Sometimes it feels like it’s more work fighting against it than just caving in.
A good friend of mine recently sent me a bracelet that had the words, “you were made for this” on it. & to be honest with you, it was exactly what I needed. I needed a DAILY reminder that I AM made for this.
In the hustle and bustle of this crazy life, my own worst enemy is…. well, me.
I get in my head, I doubt, I question. The exhaustion forces my guard down and almost immediately I begin questioning if I really CAN do all I am doing.
And those simple words, “you were made for this,” reminded me of a deeper calling. A calling where I DO KNOW I am made for this and that I have the One with me who has called me and believes in me to walk alongside me in this journey.
The simple, yet profound, truth I so often forget is this… the very God who called me is the same God who sustains me.
I tend to somehow separate the two. Like God calls me, pushes me, and then leaves me to do it all on my own. But the truth is…God calls me, pushes me, and walks through it right next me.
But here’s the catch. I can’t do it all. I can’t do it on my own. I can’t be perfect or have it all together, or give everyone 100% all the time.
I need a God bigger than myself, reminding me of my calling, my worth, my purpose to keep me focused.
What an interesting paradigm… that we both can and can’t do it at the same time.
That we CAN’T do it on our own but we CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens us. It’s in this tension where I wrestle with balancing the joys and hardships and struggles of this (quickly fleeting) life.
But it’s also in this tension where God teaches me some of the greatest lessons of trust, faithfulness, reliance, and the true meaning of grace and mercy.
And for that, I am grateful.