Again, I know it is May 1st but I would like to share my April book recommendation. It is written by Holley Gerth, “You’re Loved No Matter What: Freeing your Heart from the Need to be Perfect.”
Do you struggle with perfectionism! If I am complete honest, I do! It was a huge struggle for me as a new mom with little ones. I desired to be a perfect mom and have perfect kids that listened to me the first time and always had good manners and never embarrassed me in public. Well, it did not take long for me to become quickly disappointed in both myself and my kids with these unrealistic expectations. Can anyone else relate to this? If so, than this book is a must read for you because Holley shares with us this “scandalous truth: we can be loved, accepted, happy and less stressed without being perfect.”
In her book, she graciously reminds us that God does not expect perfection from us and we should not either. She says, “It’s time to lay down those unrealistic expectations that exhaust you. It’s time to embrace who you are- even the messy parts. It’s time to start living fully instead of just trying not to fail. Let’s stop trying to be perfect, friend. Instead, let’s be who God made us to be. Let’s dare to live with Joy. Let’s embrace the freedom that is already ours through Jesus.” I love this- where do I sign up?
This book is full of great truth; I would like to share with you one thing I found to be very helpful! In her book, she talks about pursuing excellence not perfection. She defines excellences as “doing what you can, with what you have, where you are, as you are.” For example, if you have a house full of sick kids, a homecooked meal may look like chicken soup from a can and that would be an “excellent” meal based on your circumstances. Other times, your “excellent” meal may be an extravagant homecooked meal for company because you have more time and energy. She points out that you have to factor in your circumstances in what you are capable to do and not feel guilty when you have to make adjustments. Many of you have newborn babies and you are sleep deprived, give yourselves lots of grace! Your definition of excellence will look different than someone with older kids. Perhaps you are having health issues or have a loved one who does- again, give yourself lots of grace! Maybe you are caring for an elderly parent or recently have become a single mom, again, no guilt, lots of grace!!! I love Holley’s definition of excellence because it allows me flexibility based on life circumstances.
Speaking of guilt, in the book, Holley writes a letter to guilt- it is too long for me to share the whole thing but I highly recommend reading the entire thing because it is so powerful (it is on pages 46-47). Here is how she ends the letter to guilt…
“So, Guilt, this is good-bye. You may try to visit but I’m letting you know the welcome mat is officially gone. And when you come, you’ll find your room is occupied by someone else who is much more loving, kind, committed to my growth than you have ever been. Actually, I think I’ll introduce you now- Guilt meet Grace!
I love this!! Grace is so important! I think us perfections struggle with giving ourselves grace- I know I have for years and still do. I think this has to do with embracing our whole self- even the messy parts! For some reason, this is so hard for us to do. I want to tell you that even though it is hard, it is so important! I truly believe our messy, broken parts can become our greatest ministry if you let God use it!
I want to end with sharing this story with you! It is one of my favorites!
“There’s an old story about two pots. One was perfect in every way. The other had cracks and broken places. Each day a woman filled the pots with rainwater she collected and then carried them down the path to her home. The first pot felt proud that she never leaked a single drop. The other felt ashamed, because no matter how hard she tried, she spilled a lot along the way. One day the two pots overheard the woman talking with someone who lived nearby. The neighbor exclaimed, “The flowers along your path are so beautiful. “What’s your secret?” The woman answered,” One of my pots is broken, and the water that spills out helps the flowers grow every day.”
Holley says this in her book, “We think that we have to take what’s broken and make it perfect in order to be used by God and bless others. But God thinks in a completely different way. He took what was perfect, his Son, and made him broken in order to bring us healing. So if you’re sitting there wondering if God can use you because your life is not as it should be, and your heart is aching- know that your greatest hurt will probably be your greatest ministry.”
Wow- such powerful truth! Ladies, I truly believe this to be true! I believe God never wastes our hurts, our brokenness, instead He wants to use our pain to help others. Who better to help a person who is struggling with infertility than a person who has struggled with infertility. Who better to help a friend who has lost a parent than someone who has lost a parent. Who better to help a person going through a divorce, then someone who has gone through a divorce. The question is will you share your story and let God use it! I hope we can be like the second pot in the story.
Dear God, Help us embrace even the messy parts of our lives! Help us see that we are all imperfect and broken! God, I love that you see a purpose in our brokenness! I pray you can use our brokenness and imperfections to help bless others! Also, please help all of us that struggle with perfectionism. I pray we will trade guilt for grace and strive for excellence instead of being perfect! We lift all of this up to you! In Jesus Name, Amen!