“You make known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence…” Psalm 16:11

It’s ok not to be perfect


Confession time:   I usually strive for excellence or for things to be perfect in many areas of my life.

Who can relate? ( We’ve probably all been there at one time or another.)

We can be so driven that we set the bar too high.  We often hold ourselves to higher standards than we even hold for others. It might not even be realistic but we still strive for that high expectation anyway. It doesn’t have to be that way though.  Sometimes we learn that lesson, or get reminded of it, the hard way.  Ouch!

I only share the following as an example of what God has shown me about myself…..not to brag.

I have usually excelled in whatever I have done and things come easily for me.  I strive to be the best I can be.   I push myself and  typically expect to do well.  There’s nothing wrong with trying to do the best you can, but …

  • what happens if you’re so used to doing well that you begin to demand or expect perfection ?
  • What if you can’t handle NOT doing well?
  • What if you become afraid to fail?

I had a pretty significant failure this week. I’m super driven, but the worst case scenario happened. I blanked out, was extremely distracted, and was not in the frame of mind I needed to be in for an important exam. Something that is normally so natural was really hard. It was embarrassing and humbling to not show the competence I usually have or to reach a standard that I needed and wanted to meet.  But God used it to show me that I don’t have to fear messing up or to keep focusing on perfection.  We can learn a lot from our mistakes and use them to grow and become even stronger. He reminded me that I’m defined by who I am in Him, not by what I do.  Even if I fail…..it’s ok.  He gives grace and forgiveness and I need to learn to give them to myself also.   

My mentor coach asked me how I was going to put it behind me and move on to what I was capable of and not let it affect me.

Worst Solo Ever?

It immediately  reminded me of an embarrassing failure in high school that became a pivotal growing experience.  I made the varsity band as a freshman and earned 1st chair. I practiced all the time and my band director wanted me to go to contest. I had no desire to go and play for judges, but he made me.  I took a solo and I was so nervous that I went completely blank on contest day. I could play that song in my sleep, but I only got the first 8 or so notes in and then forgot everything. I stood there and watched the accompanist play until it was over. My teacher was embarrassed (as was I) and very disappointed in my performance.

I moved after that year and went to another school.  I ended up choosing to take a solo and ensemble to district and state music contest every year after that disastrous freshman experience. I got 1’s every year and even earned the John Phillips Sousa award my senior year. My old director would always come hear me play at contest, but he would stand outside the door. He had faith in me that I would do well and was proud that I made it to state each year and didn’t let that bad experience stop me from doing what I was capable of doing. That bad solo experience was honestly probably one of the worst the judges ever saw come through contest, and it was very humbling and embarrassing for me, but it didn’t define me and I went on to excel and grow in my musical abilities. You learn a lot from your mistakes.

It was good God that it happened!

There were a lot of external and internal factors (my babies crying, cats fighting right where I was, general chaos to my day, being frazzled, making myself very nervous with the “what if’s”…..) that all contributed to my experience this week.  Looking back, I can say that it was really good that it happened.  But after thinking about it, I think I should say that it’s really “God” that it happened.  It was a huge growing experience and it actually felt good to fail, once I was able to process it.  It was  like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.  The worst case scenario happened, but it really wasn’t so bad after all. In the end, I was able to move on and jump right back in the next day and have a better experience with the same exam.

I knew that I “knew” what to do and this bad example wasn’t the norm.  It just didn’t happen that day for all kinds of crazy reasons.  Sometimes things go that way.  It’s not always perfect, and that’s ok!  We can dwell in the past and beat ourselves up over something and feel that we’re a failure, or we can brush it off, move on and realize that one bad experience isn’t the end all.  I could have really let it bother me and doubted my abilities and calling and all kinds of things.  Instead, I allowed God to speak to me and reflected on how I could grow and benefit from this.

Now it’s your turn!

  • So, what is it that you are afraid of failing at?
  • Is there an area of life that you are holding your expectations too high for yourself?
  • What’s the worst case scenario?  And what if that happens?
  • What can you learn from your failures?
  • Where does God want to meet you in your failures?
  • Whom are you becoming because of your failures?
  • How will you put your failures behind you and move forward?

I’d love to hear how God has used experiences in your life to help you to realize that “It’s ok not to be perfect!”


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