Today, as I was doing one particular workout video for the 100th time (give or take), I realized that at the very end of a tough workout the trainer says, “Remember, it’s all about progress not perfection.” I actually look forward to the trainer saying it, not just because I am done with the workout at that point, but also because it encourages me every time I hear it. I know this as a recovery saying, but it’s really a powerful truth for everyone.
I often beat myself up for the things I don’t do perfectly because I feel like I should have it down now, whatever “it” is: eating, school, ministry, marriage, take your pick. Logically, I realize that notion is silly. I won’t be perfect in every (any!) area of my life. I won’t have an endless string of good days where I behave exactly like I should. Prideful me thinks I should have everything together and figured out. When I don’t, I am ashamed and sullen.
My homeroom teacher in high school wrote in my yearbook, “Go easy on the world.” I know now that going easy on the world starts with going easy on myself. I was on a prayer retreat last year and during a time of personal confession I was confessing my weakness. I apologized for things I’d done, things that I was sure I would do again. I could practically hear the Holy Spirit screaming, “You’re human! I made you human!” God wasn’t angry with me, just adamant that he loved me, even in all my humanity.
My flaws and weaknesses bring me back to the cross. They bring me back to a God whose love is bigger and more powerful than my sin. They bring me back to the transformative beauty of the Gospel message. I’ve come back to these verses over and over again the past few years because I can’t get over them:
Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. (Romans 5:6-8, The Message)
God, thank you that you loved me first. Thank you that you know me and love me. Thank you even for my weaknesses and struggles because as I limp along, I can feel your presence strengthening and steadying me. I ask that you would help me to further understand your grace on a deep level, so that it becomes a part of the way I relate to people, including myself.