Day 6: “Peace. Not Perfection.”

Artwork by: Bartosz Kosowski

Ten tiny fingers and toes, skin like velvet, total contentment with eyes closed all swaddled up in a cozy blanket: PERFECTION. Unblemished body, shiny leather, sleek and ergonomic with all the bells and whistles: FLAWLESS. Tall, dark and handsome with straight shiny white teeth, adoring eyes, and a sense of humour: IDEAL.

Some of you grew up aspiring to be the paragon of the school, the cream of the crop, the epitome of excellence and achievement. Your hard fought wins taught you that putting in effort gets you results and attention. You thrive on other’s approval, keeping order, juggling all the balls so they remain elevated at just the right height.

Perfectionism: the antagonist in this chapter on peace. Your desire to experience breakthrough during this fast is robbed when your aim is 100%. Every. Single. Day. The house must be clean. The kids must behave. The cooked meals should meet everyone’s standards. A raise at work. A good body. It goes on and on, as exhausting as walking up ten flights of stairs.

The problem with ideals beyond reach is the subtle message they send: “You’re not good enough.” Your life, your bank account, your job, your spouse, your kids, your size… measured against utopia, you have failed. When you feel you’re not enough or your life isn’t enough, you will find yourself striving, controlling, battling on every front. You’ve lost your composure and the lull of relaxation feels like guilt.

Give yourself permission today to let go. Give up your ideal and allow your present reality to suffice. You are not a problem. Comparison is a trap. The hamster wheel of achievement is hard to get off; you may feel the more you achieve the more others expect you to perform. Relax even if you know more could be done on your project, at work, in your home.

Pay attention today to the things that bring you angst and set them aside. Spend ten minutes meditating on gratefulness. Giving thanks for your current circumstances and looking for the good in yourself and others will resolve the tension in your life. God loves you just the way you are and he wants you to spend time with him, leaning into him for wisdom AND a to do list. Prioritise Jesus and HIS ways. After all, only God is immaculate, without blemish or stain. Glean from him and allow a cease-fire between your expectations and your reality today.

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

Proverbs 14:30 (NIV)

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.

Proverbs 17:1 (NIV)
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Juggling

busy1

I remember feeling overwhelmed in High School when I had two jobs, honors classes, extra-curricular activities, and a social life.  I would cry and stress when I thought I would never be able to stay on top of it all. I had similar experiences throughout my University studies and then…

I had kids!  The busy-ness of life went to a whole new level and I looked back at the other times I felt overwhelmed and laughed.  This new job was unprecedented.  Being available to a baby 24/7 without even a chance to plan when I could have a shower was unchartered territory.

Life went on, however; and somehow, we have managed three kids and still have our sanity albeit by a thread on some days!

Then, I moved to Australia to start a church.

Rather than rant about how long the to-do list is, how much spiritual attack I feel I am under, the amount of pressure and negativity that comes against me some days, the unknown black hole that is before me, and the three kids who are still living under my roof, let’s talk about what to do in these moments of overwhelming pressure:

Living in a measure of chaos is part of all of our lives.  No matter what stage or station, we all have stress and burdens that we carry.  We each cope in different ways.  The busier I am, the more calm I become.  It seems illogical, but at a certain point, we all must prioritize, tackle what we can, then…

LET THE REST GO!

For a control freak, this feels impossible.  For a people pleaser, inappropriate.  For a worry-wort, wholly irrational.  For an organized checklist type, insurmountable.

Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.  No test or temptation that comes [our] way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All [we] need to remember is that God will never let [us] down; he’ll never let [us] be pushed past [our] limit; he’ll always be there to help [us] come through it. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13 MSG)

God never promised us that we won’t have trials.  We have all lived long enough to know life isn’t easy, fair or simple.  For many, life’s difficulties become excuses for dismissing the God I serve.  However, I choose the opposite.  I run to my Heavenly Father as a safe refuge.  I cast my cares on him.  I entrust people to Him instead of trying to control them.  I point people to Jesus and His Word instead of to myself as the Saviour.

As a pastor, I’ll crumble if I take it as my responsibility to please everyone, not overwhelm anyone, or control the periphery ones.  As messy as it all seems with a long to-do list and a short amount of days to prepare, I know that nothing surprises my God.  I can only just keep myself prayed up and full of faith to lead this charge alongside my husband.

In the meantime, I’m cooking dinner and changing nappies (diapers). I’m making phone calls, scheduling dinners and teas, praying for my church, planning Easter service, buying supplies, packing for Colour, leading a prayer group at school, paying bills, ironing shirts, hanging out the washing, answering my phone, going for runs, all with a smile on my face!

I bet you are too!  And if you’re feeling weak and unable, you can pray this:

I love you, God- you make me strong.  God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight.  My God—the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout. (Psalm 18:1,2)