If you’d like to listen to this article, you can find the audio here: New Perspectives on Overcoming Challenges – 4 Audio Posts
I stomped around the house in a huff on Friday morning before heading out to my nephew’s wedding.
When I mentioned it to one of my sisters, she replied, “I can’t see you doing that.” But I did. I really did.
I don’t have a temper, and it’s not typical for me to slam doors or throw fits, but I was frustrated about too many things at the same time, and I thought maybe you could relate–and that you might want to know what got me out of it.
We’re here at LearnDoBecome to strengthen families, and when we can win the game that’s going on inside our heads, the ripple effect on our loved ones is huge.
I’ll start by sharing some examples of what was going through my mind:
(1) I’d de-cluttered the pencil drawer that morning, and I was at a loss for how it had become such a mess (seriously, not even one working pencil in there…and why were there four marbles?):
(2) Then I realized the plastic bin I bought for chopped vegetables didn’t fit in the fridge, and Eric casually mentioned that perhaps I should have measured the shelves before buying the container, and I pretty much exploded in the kitchen–asking WHY he had to point out my weaknesses when I can CLEARLY see them.
(3) I couldn’t eat breakfast because I got some kind of food poisoning earlier that week, and the sickness had affected my schedule, so I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped.
(4) And with the wedding going on, we had family in town, so there were several additional activities, and I was exhausted.
(5) Then my eight-year-old was playing with toys instead of brushing his hair and making his lunch for school, and as we were throwing food into a lunch sack three minutes before he had to go out the door, I was absolutely convinced that I had failed as a mother.
On the drive to the wedding, however, I had time to assess what was really going on.
And it comes down to this: I want to be perfect. Right now.
I want the straight line and the smooth path.
I want to implement all the good things I learn, and I want to get them right the first time. I want my reality to match my vision…immediately.
But because I plan to be a part of this LearnDoBecome community for years to come (and I hope you will too!), I think it’s best if we get our expectations clear up front:
There is no way that any of us can implement every good strategy–all at the same time. And anything worth accomplishing is going to include some missteps.
But that doesn’t mean we give up. It means we shift our perspective.
Here are the thoughts that shifted my perspective on Friday:
(1) There is something empowering about seeing our lives as imperfect journeys.
The word “perfect,” in fact, is often misunderstood. It comes from the Greek word “telios” which actually means “complete, whole, fully-developed.” It does NOT mean flawless or without error. It means growing, doing, and becoming…. The reason our journey is imperfect is because it is not yet complete.
And I need that to be the case because I don’t want to be “finished.”
I’m not finished building my marriage, teaching and enjoying my children, exploring the world, or doing my part to make an impact on the lives of others.
Whether we know it or not, each of us has a unique mission, and until that mission is fully complete, we are going to be imperfect. (I think I can finally be okay with that….)
(2) Peace and joy come when we’re pursuing the ideal.
It isn’t motion that exhausts us. It’s being stagnant. When we’re giving our all to a relationship or a project, something deep inside us knows we’re becoming a higher version of ourselves.
And when everything goes wrong, we’re still gaining experience. THAT has value.
(3) It’s the struggle that brings us together.
If you think about the people you love the most, they’re most likely the people you have served the most–or the people who have served you the most, especially when life hasn’t gone as planned.
A few months ago, I realized we will probably never have a tree house in our backyard. It had been a dream of mine for my entire life, but because other things have taken priority (like weekly visits to my mom, who has Alzheimer’s), the time for the tree house has passed.
Last week, however, I asked our daughter to paint a favorite quote on a canvas to hang in our kitchen. When she presented it to me, I noticed a little element she’d added to the bottom right corner:
A tree house.
It brought tears to my eyes as I realized I finally got it–even if it didn’t come in the way I expected.
And it’s because of the years and years of struggle that Alia’s kindness meant so much to me. I keep thanking her over and over again.
At the end of the day…
I got the drawer looking better:
The vegetable bin is in the car, waiting to be returned.
My stomach’s feeling settled, the wedding festivities have come to an end, and I set up a routines chart for my 8-year-old that is working beautifully. (More on that soon!)
I mentioned to another sister that I was considering writing this post and publicly sharing the fact that I struggle. “For some reason,” I told her, “people like to know when I’m having a hard time.”
She smiled as she offered a slight correction: “They just like to know they’re not alone.”
I’m excited to have you here with us at LearnDoBecome. Thanks for being with us on this imperfect journey. We hope that through our small efforts, we can make a difference for you–and support you as you make a difference for others.
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