Grace Beyond the Lines

Recently, at a writing conference, the speaker talked about how we as children learn these beliefs about ourselves and  then we carry them into our adult lives.

As he spoke, an experience from third grade popped back in my mind. I had completed a worksheet for English. The content was absolutely one hundred percent correct; however, I had not stayed within the lines. My freshly learned cursive writing had extended beyond the given lines. I was required to stay inside from recess and fix my “mistake.” For a quiet, shy young someone who already aimed to do the right thing, this only fed into my drive for perfection.

This perfectionism has been a constant companion into adult life. It drives my performance, my anxiety, and my fears.

Last fall, God really began unravelling some of this root of the need for perfection. It has been a slow unravelling, but I no longer believe that perfection is the goal.

At work, we talk about redefining success as progress not perfection. I may not like mistakes, but I can embrace them as part of my growth.

Today, I am grateful for the grace of second chances. I am grateful for the freedom to not be perfect. When we walk in His strength, His grace is sufficient.

Sometimes, following a God given dream involves taking a risk. You may just have to look, write, or walk beyond those “safe” lines. What the world views as a mistake may just be the very path He has set before you. Pray, listen, and trust.

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The Illusion of Perfection

I fight the thoughts of perfection as chocolate smoothie falls onto my white top. I try to remind myself of how far I have come from the grips of anxiety, self doubt, and the second guessing. Those reminders can seem like mere whispers among the shouts of the world… You’re not good enough!!

As I listened to another woman’s fears and saw her tears earlier this week, I saw my own fears through her words. I was reminded that we are all broken people fighting a battle of some sort.

I attended another Casting Crowns concert this past weekend, and as I listened to the lyrics of the songs, I did reflect just how far I have come in just a few months since I heard them in concert in October. 

From their song God of All my Days…My seasons change, You stay the same.

Despite my circumstances and feelings, God is the constant in my life. When the anxieties of not being good enough creep up, God is constant. When the fears of failure knock at my heart, God is constant. He stays the same through all my changing seasons.

The illusion that everyone else has it together but me is just that…An illusion. I remember the first time I visited one of the other soccer mom’s homes. You couldn’t see her kitchen table. She had a stack of reading books by her bed. A huge stack. Her kitchen counters were filled with packages of food and a sink with dirty dishes. I remember sighing a huge sigh of relief inside…I wasn’t the only mom who didn’t have it all together. It really was OK.

I have been really reflective the past few weeks. Perhaps it is related to the passing of my dear 95 year old friend. Her life left such a legacy.

As I think about success and what it means, it is not about having it all together. How do I define success? What do I do well?

I would like to believe that I love people well. 

Instead of cleaning the stacked mail and clutter off the table last night, I spent some quality time with my son. He will remember that much longer than he will a clean table.

A few things to remind you mid-week…

Perfection is an illusion.

Success is defined individually by what matters most to us.

We are all broken people in need of each other.

God is constant. He never changes.