I didn’t have my daddy leave me when I was a little girl, as Lysa Terkeurst recounts of her story in her new book Uninvited, but I have felt the slap of rejection.
The time when my seventh grade school friends planned a birthday party for everyone else, but not for me.
The time I blew it with a close friend, and I asked, “Do you still love me?” And the answer was, “A little less right now.”
The time I was passed over for a job that I felt capable to do, in favor of a younger, more talented woman.
Slap. Slap. Slap. Long after the red mark of the blow faded, the impression on my heart lasted.
With each new rejection, I made a mental note on how to never let it happen again.
So in junior high, I went on those before-school walks with my friends around the block taking covert puffs of cigarettes. I wouldn’t inhale because that would give me lung cancer which was deadly. But I pretended and puffed, earning my inclusion in the group.
I learned not to upset anyone so as not to have their love withdrawn from me. I learned to be likable, amiable Emily, becoming adept at people-pleasing.
I stopped putting myself out there for jobs I thought I could do, because there was always someone else who could do it better than me anyway.
Lysa writes, “Rejection isn’t just an emotion we feel. It’s a message that’s sent to the core of who we are, causing us to believe lies about ourselves, others and God.”
My lie was that I better blend into the crowd to be liked and accepted. That I better never tick anyone off, or I would never be truly loved. That I needed to try harder or else I would never be worthy enough to fulfill the dreams God gave me. The burn from the slaps in my past never fully healed because I kept rehearsing the scenes over and over, believing their stinging truth. I was now my own worst enemy.
I was the one rejecting myself, no one needed to do it for me.
I remember sitting at a conference with inspiring speakers. My usual M.O. means mourning that I’m not like these speakers. Oh, I’d like to be like them – inspiring, motivating, educating, but I realize I am not up to par with them. And probably never will be. The negative talk hisses, “I’m not educated like they are. I will never be able to do it as well as them. I am not equipped or connected. I just don’t have what it takes!”
During worship time, God whispered as if He sat right beside me. “Emily, what you are moaning about is sin for you. You are staying stuck in the belief that you are not enough. You think this is a belief about yourself, but it’s really what you believe about me. You believe I am not enough for you.”
“Oh, Lord, no!” was my first response. “You are sovereign, all-sufficient and every other praise adjective I was taught in Sunday School.” Yet He showed me I honored Him with my lips, but my actions showed otherwise. When I constantly let rejection define me by belittling myself, comparing myself and trying hard to be perfect, what I was really doing was telling God His approval was not enough. That what He made when He made me was obviously not good enough.
In fact, I was the clay, smashing my vessel and fisting it to God, “Not good enough! Remake me!” And The Potter takes that lump, with my uncertainties and insecurities and says, “You are my workmanship. I knit you together perfectly. I chose you as my own before the foundations of the world. When I made you, I declared it good, VERY good even. I bought you. With a heavy price. I made you enough already. When will you confidently believe it?”
I know you have your stories of rejection too. Just think back to junior high, the hotbed of so much rejection. Have you carried those wounds through adulthood? Have you let them define you? Tell lies about you? It’s funny how we try so hard to find approval in the ones who rejected and hurt us. Isn’t it enough to know the Creator of the Universe believes we are enough?
Lysa observes, “People can’t fix from the outside a perspective that needs to rewired on the inside.” Not admittance in the Cool Club or perfectly performed responses or acquiring the best suited job. None of that tells us we are enough. So it’s useless trying so hard to make it so. But there is a salve to heal the hurts of rejection. It’s turning to the Truth, running to the Life to show us the Way.
I confessed the lies I believed about myself. But I also had to confess my lack of faith in my Father. His Word is truth and He’s says we are cherished and approved! Do you know how healing it is to accept God’s approval and quit chasing after the world’s?
“Lies flee in the presence of truth.” Tune your heart to believe a new truth: You are accepted, for now and forevermore!
*All quotes taken from Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst.
Emily Nelson is part of the Kathi Lipp ministry team. More about her can be discovered and loved at her website, www.beyondtheredchair.com.
guest post by Cheri Gregory
My husband is a disagreeable giver!
I know, I know.
Doesn’t sound like one of the most romantic thoughts crossing my mind after more than a quarter century of marriage.
But it’s certainly one of the most important.
This epiphany hit while I was listening to Adam Grant’s Global Leadership Summit* talk, “Give and Take: A New Perspective on Leadership,” in which he describes four types of people:
- Agreeable givers
- Agreeable takers
- Disagreeable takers
- Disagreeable givers
Agreeable givers are everyone’s favorites, to the point they often become doormats. Agreeable takers are “fakers” who can fool us into treating them as givers. Disagreeable takers are pretty quickly labeled as jerks.
But it’s the disagreeable givers who, according to Grant, are the most misunderstood and undervalued.
They invest endlessly in the people and causes they care deeply about.
They just don’t care about how they come across.
What Happens When I Get Hung Up on How
A few weeks ago, a scenario that’s played out thousands of times in our marriage started to run according to script.
Daniel and I were in the kitchen, and he said something that ticked me off. I started to react, but in the nick of time remembered I’m trying to ask myself what problem is he trying to solve?
Which forced me to recognize I was all set to react without knowing the facts. (And while I may be a Highly Sensitive Person, I’m an HSP who scores high in analytical reasoning. I expect my emotions to be grounded in data, thank you very much!)
As Proverbs 18:13 so bluntly puts it
To answer before listening—
that is folly and shame.
So I asked myself, If I’m not about to react to facts, what I am I about to react to?
The answer was simple:
I’m about to react not to what Daniel said.
Or even why he said it.
I’m about to react to how Daniel said what he said.
I’m waaaaaaaay too hung up on how.
Focus on Why and What Before How
Now, I’m not suggesting that how other people speak to us isn’t important.
I am simply confessing I have been way too hung up on how, to the exclusion of why and what.
When I paused in the kitchen to ask myself why did he say that? I knew, without even asking Daniel, that the over-arching answer would be:
- because he loves God, and/or
- because he cares about what’s right, and/or
- because he is committed to me and to our family
And when I asked myself, what did he actually say? the answer was something simple and reasonable.
Sure, it’s important in any relationship* that we discuss how we communicate with each other. But how doesn’t deserve top billing, at least not for me.
I’ve become convicted that my knee-jerk reaction to my husband’s how prevents me from hearing his why and what.
When I find myself getting all bent out of shape over how — and I start gearing up to turn lawyer, judge, and jury — I’m telling myself:
Don’t react without the facts.
Only then, ask how.
Cheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is equipping women to relate and create with less drama, more delight.
Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life and the upcoming Overwhelmed.
Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-eight years and is “Mom” to Annemarie (25) and Jonathon (23), also opposite personalities.
Cheri is the host of “Grit ‘n’ Grace: Good Girls Breaking Bad Rules,” a podcast for women tired of trying so hard to measure up. She blogs about perfectionism, people-pleasing, highly sensitive people, and hope at www.cherigregory.com.
*Note: This blog post reflects one woman’s experiences, reflections, and insights in a marriage between two well-intentioned but flawed individuals. It does not attempt to speak to any relationship that includes abuse, addiction, adultery, abandonment, and/or apathy. Such relationships are beyond the scope of this post and may need the intervention of a trained counselor.
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Last year, just three weeks after her most recent (and most radical) surgery, Michele Cushatt and I hung out on her family room couch with friends Traci Sheer and Joy Groblebe, chatting about her newly-released book Undone: a Story of Making Peace with an Unexpected Life.
Today, I’m excited to share some of our convo and for Michele to tell you about her new Undone Life Together: a 5-Week Conversation about the Unexpected Life that begins February 22.
Kathi: You and I have talked a lot about self grace. This is something you’ve really struggled with. When we first met, I thought, “That woman is harder on herself than anyone else I’ve ever known.”
Michele: You’re not the first person to tell me that.
Kathi: I’m not surprised.
Michele: I’ve pretty much heard that my entire life.
Kathi: Reading the chapter about your upset over the A- … if I’d come home from school with an A-, my parents would have thrown a party! But all you saw was the minus.
Michele: I only saw the minus. And isn’t this true about so many of us? We look at our lives and all we can see is the minus? We can’t see the “A”? That has been a theme in my life.
Kathi: I think a lot of people have pocket perfectionism. They’d be cool with an A-, but there’s other things they’d lose their mind over.
Michele: Not me. I’m pretty much across the board.
Kathi: So, speak to that. I feel like in the last couple of months, there’s been a lot more self grace. There’s been a shift.
Joy: You’ve had to ask for help. … I work with you every day. There’s stuff we’re doing that normally Michele would have handled, but she’s been handing over, saying, “Could you do this for me?”
Kathi: But her standards haven’t slipped.
Joy: Not at all! It’s still this high level of excellence. But it’s a reall sweet soft side of you. And I like watching God work in your life like that.
Traci: It’s what we get from you as your friends. You are very grace-full and very forgiving, and you see all of our As…
Traci: …but you don’t see yours. So it’s nice to see you give some of that back to yourself.
Kathi: That’s good. Because she is the biggest cheerleader in the world.
Kathi: What’s been the transition?
Michele: I’ve landed in a circumstances that have given me lots of practice. Where I have no ability to control all the errant details of my life. So I have to let go at some point. And it forces me to see that not everything is my fault. Not everything is within my control; some of it is just life. Just life.
I have to find my value in somebody other than myself and my performance.
I have to find my sense of worth and value in something other than myself and my performance. For 43 years of my life, I had find my value in my ability to perform well. To produce children who behave and listen. To have a marriage that looks spotless. To do everything with excellence.
And I have learned that’s very shaky sand.
Ultimately, the only sense of value I can find that will not move, that is unshakable, is the love of God for me.
The only thing that I know I can wake up to tomorrow that will not be different than today is the fact that God will still love me. He will still know my name. And He will not leave. Romans 8:35, 37-29. It’s the only thing I can stand on that will not change.
I have no idea what my children will do tomorrow. I have no idea what kind of kids they’re going to grow up to be. I don’t even know if my husband will be here tomorrow; we never know these things. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to speak once everything is done.
The only thing I can stand on for sure, in cement, is the love of God for me.
And that allows me to first of all grace myself, because it’s not dependant on me any more. It’s not about me getting up and working really hard to talk well. It’s not about me reading a bunch of parenting books and being the best mom and winning some kind of parenting awared.
It’s about the fact that nothing is going to change the wide, high, long, deep love of God for me.
And somehow, that helps us make peace with our unexpected lives and undone selves.
Joy: Because that never gets undone.
Who can change the mind of God?
His love for your is already established.
It will never change.
(You can view the entire conversation here: https://youtu.be/TBi3-0TLWpg … the portion shared above starts around 26:35 and runs through 34:55. Begin at 26:10 for a bit of fun banter!)
I’ve come to believe we can endure just about anything as long as we know we’re not alone.
Problem is, too often we feel alone. Utterly and completely.
In spite of the emails and messages and well-wishes, our crises isolate us, creating a divide too wide to bridge. It makes us feel “other,” separating us from those who seem to carry on unhindered in their ordinary, pain-free lives.
But here’s the thing: I think pain-free is a fantasy. I don’t know anyone who’s living the life they always imagined. I know more than a few people who are pretending to. But behind their well-crafted charade sits a schism of struggle they’re too afraid to expose. Thus we trudge on—both the pretenders and the strugglers—each of us swallowed up in our aloneness and fear.
But what if …
What if someone went first?
What if someone dared to create a safe place for the complicated questions and conversations?
And then, what if you and I could find a way to laugh and cry and be undone together?
I think there is.
That’s why Monday, February 22, I’m launching Undone Life Together: A 5-week Conversation About the Unexpected Life. Picture it like a giant family room with a bunch of fluffy pillows and chairs. There’s a seat for you there; me, too. And we’ll circle up and unpack the tough questions we bump against every single day. Only, this time we won’t do it alone. We’ll do it together.
When you join Undone Life Together, you’ll receive:
- A 5-week Daily Reading Plan through the chapters of Undone: A Story of Making Peace With An Unexpected Life. If you’ve already read it, no problem. You can revisit the chapter themes and engage in the conversation. Don’t want to read it? That’s okay, too.
- Daily emails designed to create conversation around your biggest questions.
- Dedicated Facebook group conversation around the days themes.
- Weekly videos where I dive a bit deeper into the most complicated topics.
We won’t come up with all the answers nor will we resolve all of life’s unknowns. But we’ll open the doors for an honest conversation. I believe, in the process, we will discover a God who is faithful, a peace that is unshakeable and a community of fellow strugglers who will walk with us in this Undone Life Together.
Like cold water in the driest of deserts, my friend.
It begins February 22 and ends March 25. Even better, it’s absolutely FREE. That means you can participate as much or as little as you like. You can even lurk in the background for the entire five weeks if that’s the most you can do. Believe me, I get it.
But you need to sign-up to join.
I can’t wait to get started. And, honestly, my heart is aching for you to join us. I may not know all the details of your story, but I know what it feels like to be alone, drowning in questions without answers. And I know the One who holds the key to staying afloat.
I’m so glad we’re in this together.
You all know (and love) my coauthor and friend Cheri Gregory. What I love about Cheri is that while being one of the smartest human beings on the planet, she is always first and foremost concerned about the heart – not the head. In today’s post, she talks about how knowing who we are personality-wise can affect how we combat one of our biggest temptations this season – the need to buy.
Be sure to hop over to her blog for a chance to win our book The Cure for the Perfect Life: 12 Ways to Stop Trying Harder and Start Living Braver.
“…be content with what you have, because God has said,
‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’.”
(Hebrews 13:5b NIV)
Settling into my favorite chair, I smile and sigh.
I love my life.
Outside the window, a slight flutter catches my eye: a hummingbird. Delighted, I watch the little guy test the feeder options and settle on a favorite flower.
I have everything I could possibly need.
I look slowly around the living room, basking in abundant evidence of rich blessings: shelving units overflowing with books, an over-stuffed couch covered with soft blankets and seafoam green pillows, two cats snoozing in sunbeams.
If I didn’t know better, I’d envy myself!
I giggle and, trying not to feel guilty for being so happy, begin sorting the day’s mail.
A catalog catches my eye.
I don’t need anything, but it’ll be fun to browse for just a quick sec.
Ten minutes, one Sharpie, and fifteen Post-It Notes later, I am a woman possessed. I have found, at long last, the exact kitchen gadgets I need in order to …
I’m at it again.
I glance around the room. Sure enough: my contentment has been replaced by a gnawing sense of need.
The bookshelves are cheap and ugly. The couch is old and stained. The cats ruin everything.
In my lap, more catalogs offer instant solutions to my home improvement problems, quick fixes for the many defects in my wardrobe, and …
I’m not going down this road again.
Bankruptcy no longer tarnishes my credit record, but its lessons are etched into my heart.
I’m still vulnerable.
A book I used to read to Annemarie and Jonathon when they were little comes to mind: The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies.
I shake my head.
I still go from gratitude to gimmie in a heartbeat.
I get up, toss the catalogs in the recycling bin, and return to my chair.
As I watch the hummingbirds flit to and from the feeder, my contentment gradually makes a comeback.
Preparing Our Hearts for a Contented Christmas
During the holiday season, we are bombarded with a barrage of emails and billboards and sale flyers and TV advertisements that all scream, “You NEED this!”
But what we really need is internal fortitude to resist the external forces ganging up against us.
I’m not suggesting that buying things we need or want is inherently bad. Not by a long shot.
What I am suggesting is that we combat consumerism by intentionally choosing contentment. Here are a few how-to tips, customized for each personality:
An Expressive’s #1 goal is to have fun. We buy a fabulous new outfit or tickets to a big event, thinking, “This is going to be so much fun!” But as the fun fades (as all fun does), we’re tempted to keep spending money to keep the fun coming.
But the key to fun isn’t funding: it’s learning to trade expectation for anticipation. Rather than getting caught up in how much fun an event is supposed to be (followed by disappointment when it isn’t), we can choose to anticipate and then find the fun in each one.
This personality’s life goal is to achieve perfection. It’s so easy for her to get an image of a “picture perfect” holiday in her mind and think, “It isn’t truly Thanksgiving/Christmas unless the ______ (house, meal, tree, etc.) turns out just right!”
When perfection becomes our only conduit for contentment, disappointment is guaranteed: for ourselves and those who feel like they’ve let us down. Instead, we can choose to re-define “perfection” as “good enough” (no matter how much of an oxymoron that may seem to be!) and look for perfect moments to truly enjoy.
For Drivers, whose life goal is control, it’s very easy to treat the entire holiday season as one giant list, moving from one thing to the next: check, check, check. We had that last night, we have this today, and soon it’ll be tomorrow when we will… The danger in this approach is never being present in the moment.
Detaching contentment from achievement may require taking an eraser to the calendar. We may need to say, “No way. I can’t be fully present for every single one of these. I’m just going to be hopping and skipping and jumping but I’m never going to actually be there.” Slowing down and making space for relationships may feel less productive, but it’s what creates true contentment.
The Amiable’s life goal is peace. Always. Between all people. This can be tough at the holidays. Put a bunch of people with different personalities together, add some travel, throw in gifts, mix with fatigue, and Peace on Earth is not an easy goal to achieve.
It helps to remind ourselves that sometimes the messiness, chaos, and even conflicts of life are normal. We can focus on being grateful for those who have gathered together, even when they aren’t getting along perfectly. Even when the people around us aren’t exactly peaceful, we can still choose contentment.
Looking for encouragement to help you recover from that pesky problem of perfectionism? Today’s featured book is The Cure for the Perfect Life.
You can enter to win a signed copy by leaving a comment directly on Cheri’s blog.
PLUS, you’ll also be entered into the grand prize drawing for the Wrapped In Grace gift package: signed copies of all five of our books, a $100 Visa gift card, and a bunch of other fun goodies. All winners will be announced Saturday, October 24th, at http://www.WrappedInGrace.info.
Cheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. She is a frequent presenter at women’s retreats, parent groups, and educational conferences. She has contributed to or coauthored a dozen books, most with Kathi Lipp, including The Cure for the “Perfect” Life: 12 Ways to Stop Trying Harder and Start Living Braver and Clutter Free.
Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-seven years. She is “Mom” to Annemarie (24) and Jonathon (22), who are also opposite personalities. The Gregory family lives on the central California coast.
Cheri’s passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.” You can visit Cheri’s website and connect with her on Facebook.
Carey Scott, is a new friend, but boy – when you read just what her mother-in-law did to sabotage her Christmas – you will instantly bond with her, just like I did.
Be sure to head over to Carey’s blog to enter to win her latest book Untangled.
She left out one of the main ingredients.
As my mother-in-law was writing down the recipe for her crowd-pleasing breakfast casserole – the one my husband really wanted me to make for Christmas morning – no one realized she was angry.
Even though we had spent Thanksgiving with them and planned on Christmas Eve too, the fact that we’d wake up at my parent’s house on the 25th made her spittin’-mad.
And as my husband stood over her shoulder, he noticed she not only skipped a flavor-delivering ingredient, but also tweaked the measurements of the others.
I was being set-up for failure – a label I already wore when it came to all-things hospitality. A label she wanted me to continue wearing.
Truth is I’m not a confident cook or baker, so I’d have followed the recipe to a tee. The result would have been one nasty casserole. And ruining the Christmas morning meal would have heaped guilt and shame on me for not being better equipped in the kitchen — tightening the tangle that said “I’m a culinary catastrophe.”
There’s something about the holidays that brings out the nasty in family and the insecurity in us.
… Maybe we step back into dysfunctional family patterns, the ones we’ve paid big bucks in counseling to overcome.
… Maybe we feel like mom is judging the way we celebrate the holidays today because it’s different than how she did it when we were kids.
… Maybe old tapes replay in our minds, and we hear the tangling messages from childhood of “You’ll never be good enough” all over again.
… Or maybe growing up in our home was so painful that spending time there causes us to feel oppression all over again.
In a season where we’re supposed to step out of hectic schedules, set aside disagreements, and gather together to celebrate the important things in life… we find ourselves tangled in the messy-ness of family.
And instead of looking forward to the holidays, we dread them.
So what can you do to make family-time be tangle-free during the holidays?
Be prayed up
If you don’t ask God to prepare your heart in advance of these self-esteem-draining situations (and people), you’ll find your tinsel tangled. Start now praying for grace … for peace… for perspective… and for God to tender your heart while He strengthens your spirit. Ask Him to remind you of all the ways He delights in who you are. It will make a difference.
Plan to step out
Instead of maxing out your time with family that maxes out your confidence, be clever. Find opportunities to regroup. Make a run to the store. Take an extra long shower. Take the dog for a walk. Find ways to step out of the insanity so God can replace those age-old lies of worthlessness with His truth.
Breathe grace in
Experts agree a fail-safe way to keep from unleashing your anger on someone is to take a deep breath in. I don’t know the physiology of it, but I know how many times this simple idea has saved the life of the person standing in front of me (#justsayin). When your self-worth gets dinged and your hurt turns to anger, take a God-sized dose of grace into your lungs so you can exhale kindness and mercy. You don’t want to be a tangle-maker.
My mother-in-law and I never saw eye-to-eye. In all fairness, I wasn’t always easy to love. But neither was she. And while we made peace before she passed a few years ago, she was a tangle-maker through and through. Each time we got together, I asked God for help, I found pockets of time to regroup, and I inhaled grace. Lots of it.
The holidays can get us all wrapped up in the wrong things because we’re around the people who know what buttons to push, and have often been the ones to hurt us the most. But this year can be different.
Remember friend: Be prayed up. Plan to step out. Breathe grace in.
And never forget that the Creator of the world – the one whose virgin birth we’re about to celebrate – delights in you… stumbles, fumbles and all.
He created you to be a gift to the world… and you are.
Looking for encouragement to help you recover from that pesky problem of perfectionism? Today’s featured book is Untangled.
You can enter to win a signed copy by leaving a comment directly on Carey’s blog.
PLUS, you’ll also be entered into the grand prize drawing for the Wrapped In Grace gift package: signed copies of all five of our books, a $100 Visa gift card, and a bunch of other fun goodies. All winners will be announced Saturday, October 24th at http://www.WrappedInGrace.info.
Carey Scott is an author, speaker, and life coach, honest about her walk with the Lord… stumbles, fumbles and all. Her passion is reminding women of their immeasurable worth, something the world is quick to discount. She speaks to women’s groups and writes about the issues that matter most to the heart of a woman.
Carey lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and two kids where she tries to be domestic, and appreciates the grace when she’s not. You can learn more by visiting her website and blog at www.CareyScottTalks.com, or by tracking her down at the closest Starbucks.
Friends – this is Kathi, and I’m so thrilled that we are getting a head start on the holidays this year. No – I’m not asking you to push up your Black Friday shopping by a month – I want us all to have an opportunity to prepare our hearts – not just our homes. So I’ve joined forces this week with several of my friends who have similar hearts – Let the holidays come! – but let our hearts be in a place where we can truly experience the best that the season has to give us! My first friend who is sharing is Amy Carroll.
I have long admired Amy from a far, but today we get to hang out with her up-close-and-personal. Amy is the author of Breaking Up with Perfect, and I know that most of us are going to need a lot of that as the holiday’s approach.
Be sure to head over to her blog to win a copy of her book!
The further I read into the editorial the shorter my breath grew, and I felt the heat of stress radiating from my constricted heart. “At my house, the bustle stops when we gather with our daughters to trim the tree,” Gayle Butler, editor of Better Homes and Gardens, gushed.
Then she went on to describe her family’s lovely evening complete with traditional music, story-telling, and eggnog. She ended by saying, “By the time our quiet evening concludes, we’re energized and ready to try something new.”
Wow. That sounds just like my family. (Insert sarcastic tone here.)
My case of hives from the article came from memories of the previous year’s tree trimming at my house.
We all started well–hubs, the boys and me–matching up with the perfect pictures of Christmas preparations in my mind. It was just like BH & G. Amy Grant crooned Christmas carols in the background. Egg nog was poured into the red glass tea cups I had snagged at a tag sale, and boxes of decorations from the attic lined the walls.
However, it all started downhill over the lights for the tree.
Squabbles erupted over tangled strings of bulbs. Somebody turned on the football game, and the sound of the TV clashed with the music from the stereo. Instead of telling lovely stories of the ornaments’ histories as we hung each one, my boys began to make fun of the 70s-style bobbles from my childhood. It all fell apart faster than you can say, “Mama’s in a snit.”
Maybe they just got distracted, or maybe it was the maternal growls and snarls that drove them away, but suddenly I found myself sitting alone on the floor in front of the tree. The rest of my family had abandoned the traditional decorating of the tree.
I furiously gave the tree a yank to position it for another ornament, and… TIMBER! It fell on me, driving the metal rod of one of the artificial branches into my arm.
That’s when it happened. Out of my mouth popped some of the overflow of a disgruntled perfectionist’s heart—a big, fat, four-letter word.
That brought the family back into the room.
“Mom! Did you just say #*!@?!”
To this day, there is one favorite Christmas story at my house. It’s not The Gift of the Magi or The Polar Express. Not even How the Grinch Stole Christmas makes the cut. Our family’s favorite story is The Day Mom Cussed When the Christmas Tree Fell on Her.
So much for the perfect family Christmas. Ours might be rated R.
It’s hard to give up the pictures of perfection in our heads–especially during the holidays. It seems to be the time that Perfect takes a strangle hold with visions of the perfect pumpkin pie, the perfectly peaceful Thanksgiving dinner, and the perfect gift.
But surely there’s a better way to do the holidays. Surely there’s more joy to be had.
I’ve spent about a decade now breaking up with Perfect, and I’ve learned a few things we can all do as the holidays approach that will usher in the elements we all want this time of year—joy, peace, and a Jesus-focused heart. They’re all centered on relationships—with yourself, God, and others.
Surrender to Your Truest Self.
God created you, and there is no other that can take your place. In a world that’s dying to see real women living a real faith, God created you uniquely, so be unique!
Anna Quindlen says it this way, “Perfection is static, even boring. Imitations are redundant. Your true unvarnished self is what is wanted.” Love that.
I’d go a step further, though, and say that your true unvarnished self is what God wants and what most glorifies Him. When you take off the façade of perfection, Jesus’ light shines brightly through you and draws others to Himself!
So what does that look like in the holidays? If deep in your heart you have a passion for pink flamingoes, then go crazy with pink feathers instead of red and green plaid ribbon! If you’d love to have quinoa and kale instead of turkey and dressing, make it! Create new traditions around the things you love instead of just comparing and imitating. You’ll find fresh delight as you do, and others will be attracted to your joy.
Savor each person, each moment, and most importantly, savor time each day with God. Linger in the candlelight of early morning. Let music of praise wash over you. Center your mind and heart on Him.
For me, it’s particularly hard to savor my relationship with Jesus from November through December. I know that’s horrible to confess, but it’s true. My lists lengthen in my mind in any quiet moment, so this is the season when I need some great devotional books to keep my thoughts focused. Here are a couple I’ve got close at hand for this season:
- The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
- The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs
Keep It Simple
Don’t drive yourself this season, and for heaven’s sake, don’t drive others either (a lesson I’ve learned the hard way). Keep a family calendar and preserve some white space. For each opportunity, ask yourself what should NOT go on your calendar.
Have a discussion with friends and family about what is important to each person, and then let the rest go. I shake my head in sadness when I think of all the years I drove myself and everyone else crazy with all the things I thought had to be done… that nobody enjoyed anyway.
One of my least favorite tasks in life is cooking, so I’m ending with a simple recipe from my friend Sharon Sloan, author of SerenDIPity, that even the least domestic of us can make for a holiday party. Let’s all commit to surrender, savor and keep it simple!
The Now-Famous Cherry Cheesecake Dip by Lisa Lohwasser – SerenDIPity 2011
1 Box of Jell-O No Bake Cheesecake Mix
1 8-ounce tub of Cool Whip
1 21-ounce can of cherry pie filling
(or use any other canned fruit or fresh fruit you desire)
Prepare Jell-O Cheesecake Mix according to directions on box. Stir in the Cool Whip. Place cheesecake mixture on desired serving tray and pour cherry pie filling on top of cheesecake mixture. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with graham crackers or another dipper of your choice.
Looking for encouragement to help you recover from that pesky problem of perfectionism? Today’s featured book is Breaking Up with Perfect.
You can enter to win a signed copy by leaving a comment directly on Amy’s blog.
PLUS, you’ll also be entered into the grand prize drawing for the Wrapped In Grace gift package: signed copies of all five of our books, a $100 Visa gift card, and a bunch of other fun goodies. All winners will be announced Saturday, October 24th at http://www.WrappedInGrace.info.
Amy Carroll’s passion is leading women to deeper delight through the matchless pleasure of rich relationship with God and others. Amy is a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries’ speaker team, the author of Breaking Up with Perfect, and the blissful director of Next Step Speaker Services. She lives in NC with her 3 favorite guys and a little, red dachshund. You can find her on any given day typing at her computer, reading a book or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner. Visit Amy at her blog to join her in a journey toward more joy.