Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living
By Shauna Niequist
Webster’s Dictionary defines Perfectionism as~~~ a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable.
Whether because of my dysfunctional childhood or if it is just my nature, I have struggled with perfectionism nearly my entire life.
It has just been within the last couple of years that I have truly understood it and the implications it has had on my life. I have really been trying to overcome it and recover from it. So as soon as I saw the title of this book, I knew that I absolutely needed to read it.
This is a love story, like all my favorite stories. It’s a story about letting yourself be loved, in all your imperfect, scarred, non-spectacular glory. And it’s about the single most profound life change I’ve yet encountered.
After reading the first paragraph, I knew that it was no accident that I had discovered this book. I felt an immediate ah-ha moment, as if I were about to read from my own journal.
I don’t usually like highlighting in my books; books are sacred, historical and should not be damaged in that way. I made it to page 128 before I realized there was too much good stuff that I would want to remember or revisit. So I started putting sticky notes next to a line or paragraph that grabbed me. As you can see, there are many of those moments within the book and I only started adding sticky notes on page 128. This book made an impact on me with a gigantic amount of light bulb moments.
There were many years of my life that I felt like I didn’t even have time to eat, sleep or barely breathe because I ran myself from one activity to the next to the next to the next. In my quest for perfection, I thought I had to do all, be all, and be an infallible wife and mother for my family. I felt the drive to do this in order to fill the gaping hole in my heart and finally *maybe* to feel complete.
In the process of trying to be perfect, I lost my own sense of self and who I am; who God intended for me to be. I forgot to be me because I was too busy running around trying to be whomever everyone else in my life needed me to be.
I’m learning to silence the noise, around me and within me, and let myself be seen and loved, not for what I produce, but for the fact that I have been created by the hands of a holy God, like every other thing on this earth, equally loved, equally seen.
This above is what I am trying to learn to do.
I have been created to be equally seen and equally loved.
It is not easy. I have spent 3$ years of my life striving for perfectionism; something I will never be able to truly achieve. As I talked about in my review of Gospel-Centered Mom, I will never be fully enough or seamlessly perfect; If I were, then why would I ever need Jesus? I will eternally be imperfect. I can never be perfect and that is okay, because I absolutely DO need Jesus.
After a lifetime of believing that the voices that mattered were Out There, approving or disapproving of me, I’m learning to trust the voice within, the voice of God’s Spirit, the whisper of my own soul. And when you learn to listen to their voice, the screaming crowd matters less. In some blessed moments, it matters not at all.
And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good. ~ John Steinbeck
It really is a feeling of relief, of freedom, knowing that I do not have to be perfect. Once I rid my mind of the idea that I have to be perfect for everyone else, I can just be good at who and what God created me to be.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”~ Ephesians 2:10
You were only meant, created, commanded to be who you are, weird and wonderful, imperfect and messy and lovely.
I am weird.
I am wonderful.
I am imperfect.
I am messy.
I am lovely.
I am good.
I am me.
Anyone and everyone who has ever struggled with perfectionism, with not feeling like you will ever be good enough, should read Shauna Niequist’s book, Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living. I hope it has an impact on your heart, your spirit and you life as it did upon mine.
There is a Study Guide that goes along with the book if you are interested in digging in a bit further. I did not use the study guide, but it will probably be something I do in the future.
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