a little encouragement

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You know how when you learn a new word, suddenly you start seeing it in everything you read?  Or you buy a red Dodge Caravan, and suddenly everywhere you go you see another red Dodge Caravan.

In all likelihood that word or that type of car isn’t suddenly appearing more than before.  It’s just that your radar is up now, so you are noticing that thing when previously you would have passed it by unthinkingly.

Well, I have been coming across a plethora of encouragement in the area of giving myself grace for imperfection.  Surely it’s been there all this time, but I’m still surprised by all the inspiration I’ve found. I’m gathering the posts here because they complement each other so well, and so I can come back to them when I need them again (which I know I will).

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My One Word: Imperfection (part 2)

I have written here before about being an all-or-none perfectionist.

(And actually, in re-reading that post I realized that all the issues I’m now dealing with I have already dealt with before — and seemingly already come to some pretty good conclusions.  Funny how we can think we’ve conquered something but it just keeps coming back…)

better plan

Anyway, all-or-none perfectionism: if I can’t get it all right, then I have a hard time getting motivated to do any part of it.  I also suffer from analysis paralysis (yes, it’s a real thing!) — being paralyzed by too many options and the need to figure out The Best One.

I realize I sound whiny and kind of ridiculous: “It’s just so hard to figure out the right way to meal plan!  I give up!”  I realize these are first-world problems.  (I also suffer from a need to over-explain.)

Why do I have this need to always make the best choice, do the most right thing?  Why am I so afraid of getting it wrong?  It will probably come as no shock to you that I am prone to self-reflection (which can be both super helpful and kind of awful), so I have asked myself this question.

And I have come to at least one conclusion:  it’s all about control.

Aside from just wanting to be seen as a competent, confident grown-up, someone who isn’t floundering around in her own helplessness, someone who’s dependable and put-together (and maybe just a little bit awesome) — aside from wanting to project that kind of image, I’ve realized that the reason I need to always do the best thing is that I want to be in control of my life.

(This book has been instrumental in helping me figure that out.)

trust

I want my life to be good and happy and relatively pain-free.  So it’s important that I make the right decisions and do all the right things in the proper order, because then we will all be happy and healthy and everything should turn out ok . . . right?

But here’s the thing: life doesn’t actually work like that. (Shoot!)

I’m not in control.  I don’t run the universe (and really that’s a very good thing).  And in the grand scheme of things, it’s not actually imperative that my garden be weeded or my bed be made or that I buy the organic broccoli.  My world won’t actually collapse if my daughter goes to church without brushing her hair or if we eat a frozen pizza or if the laundry sits unfolded for one more day week.

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(I’m not saying these things don’t matter.  I think it’s important to have a good work ethic, to finish what you start, to do a job well.  I believe that good, whole foods are important for the health of our bodies and our earth.  But.  I am only one small, broken person living in a broken world.  I won’t always get it right.  This is the lesson I’m trying to teach myself.)

But the good news is this:

We are not called to infinite achievement, we are called to love…  God wants us to rely on his Spirit, not on our own strength and achievements…  God is the only one who can handle everything.  – Shauna Niequist, Savor

And also this:

I love how this hymn [How Great Thou Art] helps me lift my eyes from my inadequacy to his sufficiency – from my not-enough to his always-enough.  It helps me to remember the wonderful works He has done (Psalm 145:5) and to meditate on those, rather than circling around and around all the things I’ve left undone. – Ellie Holcomb

Yes.  That.  I am going to fail, always.  But God is always enough.  His grace is sufficient to cover my shortcomings.

I just have to trust him.  Easier said than done, sure.  But these thoughts have been helping me to let go of the whole to-do list, to move on to the next right thing.  I am learning that most things in life are not all-or-none kind of things.  Sometimes it’s ok to do things halfway.  I’m trying to separate the urgent from the important.  I’m trying to embrace the fact that my life is not perfect, but it is the life I have been given, and I don’t want to waste it in futile attempts at winning all the blue ribbons and gold stars.  As Shauna says, I am not called to win… I am called to love.

rest

There are several places that I’m finding inspiration for imperfectionism, including:

The blogs of Kara Anderson and  Melissa Camara Wilkins (These ladies are both inspiring and hilarious.)

Sarah Mackenzie’s Teaching from Rest

This post at Simple Homeschool

Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection

The music of Ellie Holcomb

This book by Sally Clarkson

Emily P Freeman

The Lazy Genius Collective (The tagline?  “Be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t.”  So great!)

This post at Sew Liberated

My One Word: Imperfection (part 1)

I suppose I should start by addressing my hiatus from blogging, which wasn’t so much a planned absence as an unintentional drifting away.  I became unable to justify the time and energy that blogging was taking, even though I did enjoy it very much.  I know, “You make time for what you love,” but also sometimes there are seasons of life in which you have to make sacrifices.  Blogging got cut from the list.  Also, there is Instagram which is, you know, more insta.

I don’t know if this post means I am going to return to blogging in any sort of regular way.  This is just something that’s been on my mind and I needed to write it out.  Then, because I recently read a book on forming habits and found out that I am an Obliger (i.e.,  more likely to follow through with something if I have someone on the outside to keep me accountable), I decided to share those thoughts with you, with the idea that I will be more likely to stick with this.  So thanks for listening!

flowerssSo, you know how people do that thing where instead of making a New Year’s resolution, they just pick One Word to kind of guide them through the year?  Well, I’m joining that bandwagon.  And my one word is: Imperfection.

Of course, One Word is a beautiful and simple thing, but really it’s kind of necessary to flesh it out and get some specifics, right?  So that One Word for me becomes these words:

Embrace imperfection.
or
Don’t let the ideal get in the way of the real.
(This is something Jake says to me.  Often.)

or
I am enough.
or
Trust Him; He’s got this; you are not in charge here.
or
Hey, Stupid, stop trying to be perfect all the time, no one is perfect and you are no exception to the rule so just get off your high horse.

(Ok, so that last one is not really in keeping with the tone of grace and forgiveness I’d like to be setting for myself this year, but once in a while we all need a kick in the pants.)

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To sum it up (or perhaps just string things out a bit longer): I struggle with trying to do and be the best everything to everyone.  (I’m not alone here, right?)  I want to do things well, but in my effort to get it right I often fail to remember that there isn’t always one right way.  I sometimes get so wrapped up in trying to figure out The Right Thing To Do, that I fail to trust that God will sustain me no matter which path I go down.

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Often people’s One Word is something they want to be more of: e.g., mindful, brave, generous, curious.  My goal here is not to get more imperfect this year (trust me, I’ve got that part down), but to accept myself, flaws and all. To stop always striving, imagining I can reach those lofty ideals I hold so dear, and not let those ideals paralyze me and prevent me from doing what is real and beautiful.  This is an attempt at acknowledging that I will get things wrong, and I will still be ok, still be me, still be loved.  This is me admitting that I cannot control every.little.thing. and having faith that God’s got this.

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When I write it all out like that it makes me feel like kind of a moron (who’s she kidding, no one is perfect, why does she think she should be better than anyone else?).  But I guess part of this whole exercise is admitting that I AM sometimes a moron, that I get things wrong, and trying to be more honest about it and move past the shame.  And so I think I might actually hit that “Publish” button after all (even though it is already March and everyone is so over these One Word posts — see, imperfection!), and let the world become aware that I don’t have it all together.  (Sorry if this comes as a shock to any of you!)

seven. simple.

DSC_0131Adeline turned seven on Thanksgiving and this is the one and only photo I took of the event.  It was a wonderfully special time for her because it was on Thanksgiving (she loves a feast!) with her grandparents and cousins all around and her birthday candles in a piece of pumpkin pie.  She loved it.  And we love her.

and now back to our semi-regularly scheduled programming

Hello again.  I’m back.  Well, I’ve been here all along really, only not in my usual capacity.  And now that I’ve crawled out of the black pit of despair that is (for me) the first trimester of pregnancy, we’re so ready to return to normal here.  I’ve written and revised this post (in my head) so many times; there’s so much  I could say about the last few months: the extreme awfulness of throwing up six times a day, the guilt about not being able to take care of my children, how thankful I am for my amazing husband and family.  But honestly now that it’s over I just don’t want to talk about it.  I don’t want to think about it.  Also my friend Carla, who is in a similar situation, has written a few eloquent posts on the matter.  I think I’ll just leave it at that.

So we’ve pretty much patched our lives back together and are ready for the peace and reflection of the Advent season, trying to fully enjoy this time with two relatively independent little girls before Baby #3 enters our lives in April.

Wishing joy and peace for you yours in this Season of Hope.