Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Week Twenty-Eight - Perfectionism

I’m a planner.  I love lists, checking things off, and I revel in a plan coming together.  But life isn’t always like that, is it?  It has a way of throwing curveballs, catching you off guard, and putting challenges before you that leaves you with a deep sense of lack of control.  It makes life look messy and unpredictable.  Well, that’s what life is.  It can all be going swimmingly, then a shark appears in the waters and you are sure you will be eaten alive!
     This idea of the unpredictability of life is the subject of Lysa Terkeurst’s book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way.  I was given the book a couple months ago and while driving to Atlanta I had time to read it.  I totally recommend it, by the way.  Especially if you are facing multiple trials—especially things that have come out of nowhere.
     She writes about taking up painting as a distraction during her deep trials.  As she wrote, I found a precious gem.  She said, “I realized what makes painting so delightful.  It’s their imperfections.  We already know a painting isn’t going to look like a photograph.  And that’s what makes it art.  It’s been touched by a human.  It’s been created by someone whose hands sweat and who can’t possibly transfer divine perfection from what her corneas see to what her fingertips can create.  Even the best painters will get something off scale, out of alignment, a shade too dark, or a hair too thick.  It will be flawed.  And that’s where we must make a crucial decision: what will we do with disappointment?  Will we see the human behind the ink?  The heart that dared to hold the brush dripping with color.  Remember that she was the courageous one.  That she was the one who showed up.  Took the risk.  Braved the disappointment of others.  And lived.  And made her mark” (p 81)
   Oh, my tiny heart pulsed as I read her words.  I try so hard to make life perfect for myself and for those around me.  I don’t like conflict.  I don’t like mess.  I don’t like disorder.  But it happens.  Maybe I need to stop trying so hard and accept that the imperfections are what color life and give it texture.  Maybe I need to stop hiding behind my attempts at perfection and step out there taking more risk, being more courageous, showing up, and allowing my life to be used of God to make a mark!
    Then, just as I write this, my planner mind tries to take over!  So what would life look like if I didn’t have a plan?  What mayhem would ensue? 
    I don’t think she is talking about having no plan, no expectations, or attempting for perfectionism.  I think she is talking about accepting that there is a beauty in life that comes from the randomness.  We have a choice about how we accept it, how we deal with it, how we allow the Lord to use all things for His glory.  Ours is to show up!  To not judge others too harshly for their paths but know that every trial leaves a scar.  Those scars, sometimes visible, sometimes not, create the image of God within us.  They are part of what gives the painting of our life color and texture. 
   What are you going to do with them?  Here’s what I’m going to do with them today.  I am going to spend the day looking for God’s hand in every color and texture.  I’m not going to make a list or try to create a perfect day.  I’m choosing to enjoy all my Lord has planned for me.  He is the perfect planner.  He waters every moment of my life.  I choose not to fear the unpredictable.  Instead, I’m going to take that path of trust and thankfulness that will bring me to the end of my day rejoicing, secure, and saying, “Now, that was a perfect day!”
Lysa Terkeurst, It’s Not Supposed to Be this Way, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tennessee, 2018

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