Ali


“Arms outstretched,

My fingers hook under your tiny frame.

My arms tighten and you fly—

Fly up angel-like.

There’s a glow around your little head.

Joy on your round, smiling lips.

And I hear the squeal of laughter only you can make.

My heart swells, forgetting the fear and the guilt.

Your joy covers my imperfection.”

I scribbled these bittersweet words in my journal one afternoon six months after my son was born. In fact, I couldn’t stop scribbling. At the time, I needed to write to make sense of the mixed up feelings in my head and heart. It was like a drug I couldn’t get enough of.

The truth was, I was tired. Tired of trying to be the perfect wife. The perfect friend. The perfect co-worker. And—just six months in—the perfect mom. God’s bountiful blessings should have left me full of joy, and yet, I was downright weary. Weary and weak from chasing after perfection.

Dozens of quiet, cold winter mornings went by with me scribbling in that journal, praying and pleading with God to help me perform. Maybe if I performed perfectly, I would finally be able to get some rest. But I continued to fall short of the unrealistic expectations I had for myself.

Luckily, God knew better than to answer those performance prayers. Instead, He revealed to me a hard truth. In striving for perfection, I was holding on to my life with a white-knuckled grip and completely disregarding His plans for me. He wanted me to rest in His truth, not my own.

After I acknowledged this reality, I wanted nothing more than to experience the peace that can only come with obeying God’s call for my life. Something had to give, but what was it? It didn’t take me long to realize it was where I spent most of my time and energy: my job.

The job I loved. The team I loved. And yet, deep down, I knew it was at the core of my perfectionism problem. I had dug myself into a deep hole of pleasing and performing. And the early mornings and late nights left me with zero space to hear God’s call, let alone act on it.

Then, for the first time in my life, I gave up control. Control of my time. Control of my finances. Control of my heart. It was scary. (It still is.) But, in order to truly rest, I had to trust and believe what Philippians 4:19 says: “All of [my] needs [would be] met according to His glorious riches.”

Little did I know that, while I was coming to terms with my lack of obedience, God was already working on His next steps for me. Remember that “drug” I couldn’t get enough of? It turns out that was part of God’s plan for me. He wanted me to write.

And His plan was exactly what I needed at that time. Yes, it gave me a creative outlet and provided financially. But, even more importantly, the shift in my day-to-day routine gave me margin. Margin for new experiences and deeper relationships. None of which I would have encountered if I had kept that white-knuckled grip on my life.

Don’t get me wrong—trust, control and perfectionism are still daily battles. And my circumstances are sure to change. But now, I know that the plans God has for me are so much bigger and better than my own. He meets me in my imperfection and uses it for His glory. When I am weak, He is strong.

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