By Sarah-Kate Edworthy –
I’m a perfectionist at heart. If I’m going to do something, I have to do it well. No, let me rephrase… I have to do it extremely well. If it’s not pretty close on 100%, I don’t really see the point. But who’s applying all this unnecessary pressure, you may ask? Just little ol’ me, and just towards my little ol’ self. Nobody’s raising that unattainable bar but me, and I don’t expect anyone else to reach it.
But recently, I came across a book title that I honestly believe will change my life. Yes, a book title. I’ve never read it. In fact, I didn’t know who the author was until just now (thought I better Google it – it’s written by Shauna Niequist and looks like an amazing read). When I heard those words, Present Over Perfect, it’s like God just cut through all the noise – the striving, the pressure, the must-be-perfect-or-else-I’m-not-good-enough self-talk. He bypassed my racing thoughts and spoke directly to my soul.
And that’s when it – all – just – clicked. God just wants us to be there. He just wants us to show up, to be available, to be present. He never said anything about perfection. In fact, it goes against His way of doing things. Isn’t He the one who chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise? The weak things of the world to shame the strong? The lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are…’?*
Clearly, God is all about using us in and through our brokenness.
Case in point:
In January this year, my family and I were involved in a major car accident. Long story short, I landed up with my pelvis and hips broken like a jigsaw puzzle, two fractured vertebrae in my lower back, a cracked sacrum, a broken knuckle, a puncture wound on my right hip, concussion and loads of bruising. You could say I was pretty much, well, broken. During my 5-week hospital stay, someone sent me this incredible analogy:
‘In Japan, broken objects are often repaired with gold. The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object’s history, which adds to its beauty. Consider this when you feel broken.’
I experienced this first-hand during my recovery period and was completely humbled by how God used me to speak out of my brokenness to others, in ways I could have never imagined before our accident. Because of my weakness, I couldn’t take things into my sticky little fingers and make it ‘perfect.’ I just had to be, and let God do the rest.
I love singing and I’ve always felt God would use my voice to speak to and soften people’s hearts for Him. In a perfect world, I certainly wouldn’t be singing from my hospital bed, in my PYJAMAS, with no proper practice or backtrack and then post it to Facebook for friends, friends of friends and the rest of the planet to see! And yet, that is exactly how God chose to use me… And it turned out to be the most powerful way He ever has. Far and wide, the song was sent, and lives were truly touched. Because of me? Eh-hum. Certainly not. I had nothing to do with it at all – just a broken vessel in His hands.
His master plan was to put His treasure in us – beautifully fragile jars of clay –to show the all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.* Through our cracks and flaws, His light can shine, circling back around to who He is, not who we are (or who we’re trying to be). Being ‘perfect’ makes it all about me and what I can do. Being used in, and in spite of, our brokenness points to God and the incredible way He takes the fragments of our lives and pieces them together again for His glory.
If that’s His way, what am I trying to prove? And to who? I can never achieve perfection. Not now. Not ever. And anyway, that’s not the point. We’re not here to prove anything to God, but to be in relationship with Him. When we spend time with Him and let Him fill our flaws with His gold, we become living testimonies to the fact that God takes and mends broken lives.
And so I’ve decided to let go. Well, I’m trying… It ain’t easy for Miss A-Type personality over here. But it is, absolutely, God’s way. And the next time perfection speaks (like now when I’m obsessively asking myself, ‘Is this blog post good enough?’), I will choose to be present over perfect.
How about you, fellow over-achiever? Why don’t you open your grip on the things you’re holding so tightly to and put them in God’s hands?
Just be available. Just be present, truly present – with your whole heart, mind and body. And God will do the rest.
*1 Corinthians 1:27-28
*2 Corinthians 4:7