You Don’t Have to Try So Hard – Let Go of the Unreal Expectations and Find Freedom

You Don’t Have to Try So Hard – Let Go of the Unreal Expectations and Find Freedom

You Don’t Have to Try So Hard – Let Go of the Unreal Expectations and Find Freedom

Have you struggled with perfectionism? How about the need to perform perfectly so that everyone thinks you’ve got it all together? Or, is people-pleasing kicking you in the can? Do you procrastinate until you are a stressed-out hot mess?

You are not alone. So many of us let the bullies of perfectionism, performancism, people-pleasing, and procrastination beat us up. Enough is enough. Cheri Gregory and I are thrilled to be able to announce the release of our book, “You Don’t Have to Try So Hard.” There is freedom to be found in Christ and we want to help you find it.

Check out this video of my conversation with coauthor Cheri Gregory:

#320: How to Be Kind to Your Future Self and Overcome Procrastination Today

#320: How to Be Kind to Your Future Self and Overcome Procrastination Today

Have you ever had a big project that you just kept putting off? Or something in your life that just felt too big to tackle right now so you put it off and put it off for another time? Kathi sits down with friend and coauthor of “You Don’t Have to Try So Hard,” Cheri Gregory, to talk about emotional clutter and procrastination.

In this Episode You Will Know:

  • Why procrastination is actually considered a form of perfectionism.
  • How to know if you’re a procrastinator.
  • Why celebrating those small things is such a big deal.
  • The 3 most important things to know if you’re a procrastinator.

Join us for the You Don’t Have to Try so Hard Book Club!

If you’re committed to really ditching those crazy expectations you’ve put on your life, this book club is for you. We’ll be diving into the concepts of identifying and destroying those bullies that keep us in try-harder living rather than living our best life.

We’ll be holding the club on Facebook in our Private Clutter Free Academy group. It is the kindest corner of the internet, where there is no shame to our game. We’ll be exploring You Don’t Have to Try So Hard as a group from September 10 through October 22 and would love to have you join us. Click here to join today!

WIN A COPY OF YOU DON’T HAVE TO TRY SO HARD!

Comment below and be entered to win the You Don’t Have to Try So Hard gift pack from Harvest House which includes:

Gracelaced Planner
Simple Organizing
Holy Hustle
Unblinded Faith
You Don’t Have to Try So Hard

What is the one thing you are procrastinating on this week and the step you are going to take to get past it?

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

• Leave a note in the comment section below.
• Share this show on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest.

To Help Out the Show:

• Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
• Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe now.

Thank you to Cheri for joining me in today’s podcast! Join us next week as we talk about perfectionism.

 

Transcript

Kathi Lipp:
Welcome to Clutter Free Academy where our heart is to help you take small do-able steps to live every day with less Clutter and more life. These four weeks are all about the emotional clutter. But I’ll just say, of all the cluttering topics that we’re talking about, this is the one that’s going to lead you to the most physical clutter. Today we’re talking about the “p word”—procrastination—the hardest one of all. Here with me today is Cheri Gregory, co-author of “You Don’t Have to Try so Hard”. Welcome back to Clutter Free Academy, Cheri.

So Cheri, how has procrastination shown up in your life?

Cheri Gregory:
Thanks for having me. Of course I’m more of the classic perfectionist where I will kill myself to get things done, but the procrastination shows up when I feel like something is so overwhelming. The performance the part of me is all or nothing. I either have to do it amazingly or not at all, and so this procrastination is, “Well, right now I don’t have time to do it all and do it perfectly, thus I won’t do anything at all,” so I won’t even start unless I can keep it going. I know some of your people in Clutter Free Academy feel like they can’t start doing the physical decluttering if they can’t do it all at once, and so I know that that’s where some of your guidance with the blue tape and the fifteen minute time-boxing makes such a big difference for them.

Kathi:
I think that’s because they’ve started before and they haven’t finished. Then it’s been more of a mess than when they started, so that’s why we say in twenty minutes–fifteen minutes of de-cluttering and five minutes of putting away–it’s only going to look better. There’s another de-cluttering system out there that just makes me crazy because you’re supposed to de-clutter by putting everything in the middle of a room. Oh my goodness, that’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life! I hope it works for people but it does not work for me. I need to do short, small, doable bits, and the funny thing is, well the not so funny thing, is that you and I have both talked about this type of procrastination being the most socially acceptable. Perfectionistic people don’t see this as perfectionism. So it’s mental.

Cheri:
Right! I’ve actually spoken on this, and had women walk by later and say, “I’ve never thought of procrastination before as perfectionism!” But I think it’s the mindset of, “If I can’t do it right, I’m not going to do it at all. I’m not even going to get started!” So people are constantly putting off tasks until there’s a better time, or a better time they can do it right or they can do it perfectly. The problem with that is that the fear builds up. At least for me, if I put it off for three days, there must be a good reason. If I put it off for three weeks, it must be the biggest baddest monster that I can possibly imagine! Whereas, when we just get started, we shrink can it down to size.
You’ve probably told a few of those stories! You know, when a person tells a grand procrastination story and then says they pulled it off at the last possible moment—and the crowd goes wild! We love these stories! We think they’re just marvelous! The stories are funny and crowd-pleasing. But nobody ever says, “That’s so irresponsible! Why would you tell that story at a party?”

Kathi:
I grew up with a mom whose motto was, “I work better under pressure.” It took me a long time to figure out that no, she didn’t work better under pressure, she just worked. My mom was always busy, but when there was a deadline, and we’re all better with a deadline, she worked harder. That’s not a bad thing you know. I’m noticing as I’m doing more de-cluttering around my house, when I’m doing it with the mission of having people spend the night or something like that, of course I’m going to work harder. It’s more about understanding those little rewards those little goals that help us so much.

So, how do you know if you’re a procrastinator? Perhaps you are if you put off listening to this podcast for three weeks because you didn’t have time! But we all know if this is something we do.

But there are pain points. The number one for me for a long time was that I was always apologizing but nobody cared. People would think, “Yep, we know Kathi, we know you said you were going to do it and you didn’t do it on time.” My mom loves to tell the tale of the library fines I had, because it was always easier to find the library books later on. I was the worst! She says, “I can’t believe they didn’t have a ‘Most Wanted’ poster up there for you.”

I have many people who work for me. I’ve got some who are always on time, and I have some who are sometimes on time and not sometimes on time because things have come up, and then I have people who are always late. The people in the always-late category don’t stick around for very long because we can’t we can’t roll like that.

Cheri:
The second pain point is that you work on things that aren’t important to avoid the pain of difficult tasks. For example, when those of us who work at home on a book deadline find ourselves scrubbing the grout! It is amazing the things that suddenly look so appealing when we want to avoid the one thing that is terrifying us—the thing that we’re afraid of. I think it’s hard sometimes because I don’t recognize it as fear. Instead I’m telling myself that I don’t want to do that, I’m not in the mood today. Or I believe it’s icky. No, it’s fear. I’m afraid of some aspect of the work I’m avoiding, and it is easier for me to go do some other disgusting horrible task that I really don’t like and don’t want to do. That ought to be a sign, when we’re willing to do something we hate doing in order to avoid the other thing.

Kathi:
I see that all the time in myself sadly.
The third pain point is that either people think you’re unreliable, or you kill yourself on a regular basis at the last minute. I’d say I went from being unreliable to thinking, “I’m going to do this whether it kills me,” and let’s be clear, and it kills my husband, it kills my kids, it kills the people I care about because I have a high sense of responsibility now.

Cheri:
The problem is that when you’ve killed yourself and you’ve pulled it off, now you’re behind on the next things that need to be done, and it ends up being this endless cycle of being behind, which looks like procrastination. I think we are all willing to listen to people who have a crisis or an emergency, and at that point that’s a reason to be late or miss a deadline. People can be understanding of that. But when it becomes a pattern then it becomes just excuses.

Kathi:
Yes, and there have been times when all of us have gone through a really tough times in our lives, so please don’t think that we’re short on mercy. It’s the people who keep finding those tough times and using them for the reasons or excuses, and it’s gone on for months or years, that’s when we know.

Cheri:
I have created crises. I have almost knowingly gone without sleep eating too much sugar to get sick so that I could then suddenly cancel out of things or extend deadlines. I’m not above doing such things. I didn’t really intentionally do it in the moment, but in looking back I now see that I pulled a fast one on myself and thus everybody else there.

Kathi:
It’s a way of self-protection really.

What are the three most important things you need to know if you are a procrastinator?

Cheri:
Number one: You’ve got to learn to take care of your future self.

I love how you talk about this future self as being somebody that we need to be loyal to, rather than the immediate gratification. Because avoiding what feels scary in the moment feels fabulous now.

Kathi:
I will say this, my ankle has been hurting quite a bit recently and I’ve been talking about taking care of my future self. I’ve been going to the gym, I’ve been doing long walks, and my ankle has been in pain. At first I thought it was a spider bite because there were two little pinpricks in there. Then I thought it was gout and that I just needed to hustle. I need to do more. It turns out that I have a fractured ankle. So be smart about your future self. Your future self also doesn’t want to be crippled. It’s always a balance of what we need to do today to prepare for the future, but also I need to take care of myself today. So live in that balance and constantly ask yourselves if you’re doing the right thing for today’s self, and for future self. Sometimes you get to just have a break, and it’s okay. You can eat a granola bar and watch an episode of “Gilmore Girls.” That’s OK because that’s restorative and soul filling. But most of the time what we need to be doing is taking care of the things that would be so much easier to put off because they’re hard or scary we don’t want to do them.

Cheri:
Number two: Take the next micro step.

One of the things we’ve been learning over the last few years together is that we would put things on our list and they would just be too big and that was part of what made it so scary. I’m doing better with procrastination these days because all I have to do is look at it and read it and think about it. I don’t have to do it, I don’t have to fix that, I don’t have to do research. I just need to start wrapping my brain around it, and start giving myself permission to just take that first little micro step. What’s astonishing is that when I’d pushed something off until the very last minute, usually I ended up doing a very poor job. I’m not one of those who pulls it off at the last minute very well because generally the projects are more complicated than I thought, they need more research, or there are people I need to talk to who aren’t accessible at two thirty in the morning. But now, if I can at least get started. If I can at least begin by attempting to understand what the project is about, or who I might need to involve, and what questions I might have it helps. Another really good thing about taking those first micro steps is just knowing what questions I might have, and even jotting those down. That’s not a particularly scary thing to do. I don’t have to have a perfect end result. But oh my goodness, it gets the ball rolling and gets some momentum happening. For so many of us who deal with procrastination, once that obstacle of starting is out of the way, then we can keep it going. It’s the big bad beginning that can just be so overwhelming. Micro steps are the answer to that.

Kathi:
And if you are working on a team, procrastination is about the worst thing that you can do. What you’re doing is that you’re asking everybody to constantly be a hero for you, and people are tired of rescuing over and over and over. There are some people who get off on it, but then you end up owing them all the time and nobody wants to live like that. So the earlier I can do something, the less scary it can be, and the more imaginary obstacles I can remove. When we’re looking at a project we either are the total optimists, thinking this is just going to be so easy, and that we think that way. We’re almost scared to start it because we don’t know what the obstacles are going to be. Then we start imagining all the crazy stuff that could happen, so whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist the reward is procrastination. But it’s only a temporary reward. Don’t you feel terrible while you’re procrastinating? Thinking all the while you know you should be doing this.

Cheri:
My conscience goes crazy!
One of the things I have learned over the last years is to start asking myself what my procrastination is trying to protect me from. In my case, it’s often trying to protect me from devoting too much time. My old perfectionistic self would say,” I’m just going to work. I’m going to work and work and work as hard as I can for long as it takes.” I’ve started to recognize when procrastination is actually kind of being friendly towards me, it’s trying to help me cut things down to size. The problem with using procrastination to do that is that I just waste time. I fritter my time away and then there’s only three hours left, so now the task takes three hours. What I’m trying to learn to do is when I feel like procrastinating, which means I was probably about to devote ten hours to a two hour task, is to give myself permission to only take two or maybe three hours maximum, and I’m going to call that good enough. Then I can do whatever I want with that time. I can relax. I can rest. I can go take a walk and spend time with my family. I can watch “Gilmore Girls.” That’s actually been a really interesting little experiment for me to sometimes look at the procrastination as a potentially friendly force that I need to listen to. What is it trying to do for me? In my case it’s trying to curate.

Kathi:
So you can view procrastination as protection.

Cheri:
Yes. Protection from my crazed performance-istic and perfectionist self.

Kathi:
I love that.

Finally, number three: Accountability.

You and I do this big time. It’s good to be able to say when I can feel myself procrastinating and to be able to say what I want to do and when I need to get it done. Michele Cushatt and I text each other every single morning. We tell each other what we’re writing that day because it would be so easy without that accountability to just think that since nobody is going to know I’m not writing, then the only person I’m hurting is myself. That is the worst sentence in the world by the way—that the only person I’m hurting is myself. Why would that be OK?
How do you use accountability in your life Cheri?

Cheri:
You know from working with me all these years that I am a social learner, so collaboration and cooperation are so important to me. Knowing that I’m stewarding not just my time, which should be important to me, but knowing that I’m responsible for these collaborative projects where what I do or don’t do affects somebody else’s ability to be who God created them to be gives me an extra sense of responsibility. It’s not an oppressive sense of responsibility, it’s exciting. It’s OK. Part of what I’ve realized is that I do need constant feedback, and then I’m less likely to procrastinate. For example, for my writing I have writing coach. The moment I have a draft, no matter how bad it is, I send it off to her. Knowing I’m going to hear back from her in a few days—not months or weeks—keeps me writing. I need the instant gratification of accountability.
It keeps me from feeling like nobody cares or it doesn’t matter to anybody in the world whether or not I meet my deadline. It does matter.

Kathi:
It really does. One of the things that has helped me with accountability are the opportunities that I want. I have to be good about going after them and it’s scary and to say, “ Hey, I’m doing a brave thing and I need you to pray for me, I need you to encourage me, I need you to be ridiculously cheering for me, because this is hard for me.” That helps me to not put things off. I’ve got one of those opportunities right now. I need to apply to be a speaker at something and I’m scared. I’m scared of rejection and so to be able to put my best foot forward and be okay with this I need somebody to cheer me on, and it’s been huge for me to ask for this kind of help and accountability.
Now I want to know, what is the thing that you are procrastinating on this week? We all do it. And what’s the step you’re going to take? Is it micro steps? Is it needing to understand that you’re taking care of your future self? Do you need to ask a friend for some help? Tell us the thing you’re scared of and the step you’re going to take so you won’t procrastinate, and we will enter you in to win the “You Don’t Have to Try So Hard” gift basket. There are amazing books that will help you get on the path to doing what you want to do. Go comment over on the podcast page. Cheri, thanks so much for being with me again today!

Cheri:
Thanks for having me!

Kathi:
Next time we’re talking about the mother of all perfectionistic traits. We’re talking about perfectionism itself. I know it’s so scary, but that’s OK, we’ll hold each other’s hands and we’ll be accountable. Thank you for joining us. You’ve been listening to Clutter Free Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. Now go create the Clutter Free life you were always intended to live.

Meet Our Guest

Cheri Gregory

Cheri Gregory

Cheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes and speaks from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.” Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life and 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 blogs about perfectionism, people-pleasing, highly sensitive people, and hope at www.cherigregory.com.

12 Ways Perfectionism is a Lot Like My Dog

12 Ways Perfectionism is a Lot Like My Dog

Today my friend and coauthor Cheri Gregory shares how Perfectionism is a lot like her Dog.

 

 

Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” — Mark Twain

 

When our first book released, Kathi and I discovered that women tended to have opposite reactions to it.

Some insisted, “Oh, I don’t need this book! I’m not a Perfectionist!
Others demanded, “Why would I need this book? Are you implying there’s something wrong with Perfection?

Either way, they took Perfectionism very, very seriously.

 

We agree that it’s a weighty problem. But we also know that humor can lighten our hearts when we’re dealing with heavy issues. Sometimes, what you need most is a serious dose of silly.

So here, for your edification and entertainment, are a dozen characteristics that the four Bullies of Try-Harder Living — Perfectionism and his three accomplices People-Pleasing, Performancism, and Procrastination —  have in common with my dog, Shatzi:

They’re sneaky.

Shatzi spends half her day inching into the kitchen so she can lick the floor. The bullies, too, are watching—always watching—so they can sneak somewhere they don’t belong.

They’re thieves.

When I get distracted, Shatzi dashes upstairs and eats all the cat food. The bullies are experts at seizing one moment of vulnerability to strike fast and strike hard.

They’re relentless.

Once a reinforcement error has occurred (see #2), it takes days, weeks, even months to re-train Shatzi. The bullies also assume that if you’ve given them free rein once, you’ll let them have it again; they just need to keep trying.

They leave messes for me to clean up.

I know I’m biased, but I think Shatzi is beautiful. And when she’s groomed all gorgeous, I forget about the piles she leaves all over the back yard that I have to shovel. When the bullies are on their best behavior, they look lovely, too: Perfectionism looks like excellence; People-Pleasing looks like service; Performancism looks like productivity; Procrastination looks like peace. Only when we look behind them do we see the mountains of mess they’ve left for us.

They make me lose my mind.

When Shatzi goes on a barking jag, I lose my mind. She knows that all she has to do is stand in the middle of the yard and bark at nothing, and I’ll open the door to let her inside. Same goes for the bullies. When they start yelling inside my head, I’ll do anything — ANYTHING — to quiet them down.

They shed like crazy.

Shatzi has three layers of fur; she doesn’t “shed” so much as disintegrate. Daily. Her hair is everywhere. We’ve opened brand-new cartons of ice cream only to find Shatzi fur already inside. Even when she’s nowhere in sight, she leaves evidence of her presence. Ditto with the bullies — they just shed fear, frustration, and futility instead of fur.

They love distractions.

Shatzi has zero attention span. She’s like the dog on UP:  “Squirrel!” She’s here. She’s there. She’s anywhere but here and now. The bullies run back to the past, “Why on earth did you…?!?” and dash ahead to the future, “What will you do if…?!?” never wanting you to focus on the only thing that’s real: this present moment.

They bark more than they bite.

Shatzi barks ferociously at any unknown source of danger…as long as it keeps its distance. But as soon as anyone comes close, she tucks her tail between her legs. The bullies look and sound all big and bad until you approach them with the truth; then, they cower and whine.

They take me for a walk.

I had to quit jogging with Shatzi because I hate any form of exercise she’s a yanker. We don’t refer to “walking the dog” in our family; we talk about “being walked by the dog.” The bullies love to take the lead in our lives; to drag us along at their pace where they want to go.

They’re controlling.

When Shatzi lays across my lap, she acts all warm and cuddly. But after a while, when I need to get things done? She becomes dead weight and won’t let me go. The bullies give me an initial feeling of comfort but r-e-s-i-s-t when I try to leave them behind.

They’re costly.

Shatzi has cost me more time and money than I will admit. So have the bullies. But unlike my loyal furry family member, they aren’t worth a second of my time or a single dime.

So.

The next time Perfectionism, People-Pleasing, Performancism, or Procrastination show up looking adorable and holding a leash in their mouth?

Recognize that they plan to use it on you.

Tell them, “Bad bully! No biscuit!”

And always remember:

“A merry heart does good, like a medicine”
Proverbs 17:22a (NKJV)

P.S. While I no longer have Shatzi, the lessons she taught me remain.

 

Break Through a Perfectionist Personality With Our New Book Club!

Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory have a new book available for pre-order now. You Don’t Have to Try So Hard will enable you to break free from the bullies of perfectionism, performancism, people-pleasing, and procrastination.

Click HERE to find out more and to sign up for the Book Club so you can find freedom from a perfectionist personality.

 

How to Kick Perfectionism Out of the Kitchen

How to Kick Perfectionism Out of the Kitchen

How to-Kick-Perfectionism-Out-of-The-Kitchen

by Bethany of Kathi’s Clutter Free Academy Team

Although my kitchen is now clutter free, I can still find plenty to feel insecure about. After sixteen years of marriage, my dishes are showing some wear, and our silverware has morphed into a hodgepodge of unrelated utensils. I have become proficient in the kitchen, but not exactly stellar.

It’s so easy to focus on all the things we want to make just a bit better before we invite anyone over for dinner. But this habit can lead so quickly to perfectionism: an unwillingness to do anything we can’t do just right.

Magic happens when people gather around a table to eat and chat together. If we fret about the details and try to cover up the shortcomings that are obvious to us, we’ll miss out on the beauty of communing.

Here are five reminders to help us kick perfectionism out of our kitchens:

  1. Dinner is not a photo shoot for a magazine.
  1. A cooking show isn’t filming in your kitchen as you cook.
  1. A professional organizer will not be present to evaluate your progress in your clutter free journey.
  1. Your food, service, and decor will not be rated by Zagat.
  1. It’s all about the welcome, the hospitality, and the food.

Think about the around-the-table moments you treasure in your heart—moments threaded together with conversation while forks clinked on plates. You likely remember these snapshots because those occasions were special and you felt cared for. You don’t treasure these memories because you sat in the midst of perfection; you treasure them because despite imperfect people, the burned chicken, and a wobbly chair, you felt included. This is our aim when we welcome people into our kitchen: to make them feel like they belong.

If this is all true—if hospitality really isn’t about being perfect—then we are all capable of hosting a fantastic dinner party. We are all more than qualified to love on people by inviting them over for conversation and a bite to eat.

So be brave! Go ahead and invite friends over, despite the fact that imperfection resides in your kitchen. Don’t let the goal of perfection warp your idea of what it means to be hospitable: don’t allow it to taint the food you serve. Confidently invite friends and family into your home and decline to feel shame about the imperfect. (After all, every home has it.)

Show perfectionism the door, and make room to welcome people at your table.


CureForThePerfectLifeKick Perfectionism to the curb in every area of your life! Check out my book, The Cure for the Perfect Life, where we deal with the 4 P’s:

  • Perfectionism
  • Procrastination
  • People-Pleasing
  • Performancism

Embrace your imperfect self and go change the world!

Join the Undone Life Together Conversation!

Join the Undone Life Together Conversation!

Undone-Facebook-Promo2

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…

Joy: Always.

Kathi: Oohhhh…

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.

Michele: Ever.

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!)

ULT Short Banner

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.