“…underneath all of the parts of us that are wrecked and wounded and flawed and human is God-in-us.” — Leeana Tankersley, Brazen
I have a great friend who is an author. She has written three books, and lots of blog posts. I don’t have any evidence that she has any other male readers (her latest book, especially, is specifically targeted to women), but I don’t mind. Her stuff just hits me at my core. She often puts into words exactly how I feel about something that I have not been able to express well. I might even say that reading her words sometimes crystallizes even for ME what I feel.
In any event, I’ve been doing a lot of hard soul work lately (think half-hour daily homework for the Bible-based recovery group I attend). And one of the concepts that I struggle with mightily is my identity in Christ. I feel like I choose to label myself a sinner. And I reject the notion that I am good at my core. I feel more like a wretch that is only worthy of God’s love because of that very love he has for me (if that makes any sense).
So this idea that at my very Center is God…it’s hard to accept. It’s hard to grasp. In fact, I think perhaps my Adversary wants desperately for me to not believe it. If I can actually wrap my head around this idea, I get the notion that it might just change everything.
And Lord knows…I could go for that.
“Goodness lies deeper in the heart of man’s nature than sin, which came later and entered from the outside. Goodness lies deeper in man because God put himself there. It was very good! Goodness is intrinsic to man’s nature; sin is not. Sin is the corrupting virus that has temporarily corrupted goodness.”
— Michael Phillips, A God to Call Father
If my understanding is correct, this gem comes to us from the world of 12-step recovery. As someone who was raised to relentlessly pursue perfection, this phrase has been so important for me to grasp onto.
In a paradoxical way, when I strive for perfection, I make less progress than when I let go of perfection. The stress of being perfect paralyzes me into inaction. When I work, instead, to get better, I can reach smaller milestones which snowball into tremendous progress over time.
In poking around for the exact source of this idea, I came across the original quotation from the book called Alcoholics Anonymous (sometimes called The Big Book by those in recovery):
“No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.”
I love the idea contained herein. “We are not saints.” I need to remember that. I need to give myself a break. NOT AN EXCUSE…a break. I’m not perfect. I won’t ever BE perfect! And if I accept that, I can work on growing. On improving. On doing my best without the pressure of perfection. Good stuff.
This is a major struggle for me. I want to plan for the future. And, unfortunately, I hang onto the past way too much. All too often, I let today get away from me. At work. In my spiritual walk. With my kids.
As my former pastor back in San Diego (Matt Hammett) often says, “All truth is God’s truth.” The principle noted in the John Maxwell quote above can be found in the Bible, too.
Matthew 6:34 New Living Translation (NLT)
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Will I be ready?
I have a profound respect for former UCLA coach John Wooden. It’s cool that his teams won all those championships, but that’s not what catches my attention. It’s how people talk about his character.
If you want to take yourself to school, just google John Wooden quotations. As for me, I’ve purchased a biography about the man, and am looking forward to learning from his example. (To be honest, though, that book is probably 10th on my current reading list. I’m making progress, but ever-so-slowly.)
As for today’s quotation, I think my takeaway is this. I catch myself often looking for the next opportunity…what exactly would be the best job for me? Do I want to be a vice principal? Do I want to move to a district job? Do I want to strike out in an entrepreneurial move and do presentations and consulting? If I get too caught up in those thoughts, I can miss the everyday chances to grow and learn. The work that I’m doing NOW is super-important. I have opportunities each and every hour to sharpen my skills, to learn about people and relationships, to develop my character and habits to be the type of person that will be afforded the opportunity (when it knocks) to show who I am.
Practically, I think this is a good reminder for me to look ahead on my calendar! I’ve been in my job as program manager for almost two years now. I’m learning the rhythm. I am getting a handle on what tasks need to be done in which months. I know that I need to look ahead and think about what budget expenditures were made LATE last year, and anticipate them for THIS year…
There are Dave Ramsey personal finance implications, too.
What does the quotation jog in you?