Saturday, July 19, 2008

Progress not Perfection (114)

Progress not Perfection
a fresh flowers original
copyright 2008, lani wiens

This morning as I sit at my computer and listen to the birds sing and my little girl babbling at my side my heart is peaceful and full. The Lord has been showing me a few things lately and for a change my heart has been able to take it in and His words are speaking to my heart and bringing about a gradual change.

I've been really ready for a change. There are times when the Spirit lets us gets good and discontent with the way things are so that when we're finally fed up with the way things are we're willing to go through the necessary adjustments. I think God smiles at that, "Finally," he says, "I was wondering how long you'd put up with that."

I am a self-proclaimed perfectionist. I would love it if my home was clean and decorated like a magazine photo shoot. I would be thrilled if my children didn't have to be told to do their chores, were always kind to one another and spoke with respect and reverance for their God. You know those kids, the ones who do their devotions on their own from the time they're two, were potty-trained perfectly at 8 months and spoke in complete sentences from the womb. That's what I'm talking about. I'd like some of those. And me. In my perfect world I'd wake up with my make-up done, my hair would always look like someone is gently blowing a fan on me and I would NOT have this extra bubble in the middle that refuses to go away. My words would be gentle and sweet, I would never yell at anyone and my teeth would be a glistening white. Did I mention that my garden would never have a single weed...they wouldn't dare.

So, that's my dream state. My reality, of course, is far from that. With all the kids home for the summer the snowstorm in which I shovel is a strong nor'easter with no signs of letting up!! I've been walking consistently for over 2 months and that bubble just won't budge. I get a little upset with my less than perfect children now and then and they don't have devotions every day unless it's with the rest of the family at the breakfast table. All of this imperfection can get a person feeling a little down, why bother with this anyway if I'm never going to achieve my lofty goals?

Between my husband, the Spirit of the Lord and a few weeds my heart started getting a new picture as I cried out in my desperation for something to change. The questions started coming..."Who do I clean for and why do I do it?", "Why do I want my children to behave and obey?", "For whom am I weeding these gardens?" Those questions set me back on my heels. I realized that much of what I was doing wasn't in obedience to the Lord it was to impress whoever happened to be nearest. I didn't want anyone thinking that perhaps I was less than perfect or ...gasp...that my dear children were not angels. My husband and my Lord told me very clearly to change my goal.

If I keep perfection as my target I will constantly be frustrated and angry that my goals are blocked and not being reached by my imperfect self and all the imperfect people who share my home. My goal needs to be progress. My new question needs to be, "Are we heading in that general direction?", "Are the things I'm working on moving toward completion?", is it better than yesterday?

Unfortunately the weeds are going to keep coming. My little boy is going to keep using bathroom talk in his everyday speech until he figures out that it isn't popular or funny. The snowstorm is going to keep blowing and I need to lower my standards of what clean looks like in my house. At the same time I will continue to encourage myself and my children toward the goal of greater cleanliness, deeper devotion, a more weed-free existence.

God actually calls us to perfection. Jesus says in Matthew, "Be perfect, therefore as the Father is perfect." As Angela Thomas says, God isn't going to lower His standard for us so that we can feel better about ourselves. God keeps the standard high and lovingly directs us toward it. He is well aware of the fact that we aren't going to get there as long as we're wearing these fleshly coverings but he constantly urges us toward that goal and rejoices in the progress we make. And on the days we don't make progress he wraps us in his grace and mercy and says, "Let's try again tomorrow."

That's the kind of home I want my kids to grow up in. I have been legalistic, controlling, and critical towards their lack of perfection and I've had to repent and ask their forgiveness time and time again. God's grace and mercy cover over a multitude of things and when I choose to live there I can see the beauty happening around me. I can appreciate the wonder of small things going on all around me that show me that progress is really happening. Here are a few to get your heart started toward progress..........I'm going to count them as part of my 1000 gifts list, because that's what they are, little gifts in my imperfect world that the Lord gives me to remind me He loves me and loves the progress that I'm making. I can receive his gifts of mercy and extend them to others.

95. My son was finally allowed to run the lawnmower after a year of begging to be allowed to do so, the look of pure delight on his face as he worked was a gift, especially for this son who doesn't like to work much, and he did a great job, too.

96. Lightning flashing and thundering rumbling as the first drops of rain fall.

97. Eager faces pressed up against the window watching the 'light show', not complaining that our outdoor evening had to get taken inside (and not complaining about their tin-foil packet meals simply because they made them).

98. The sound of an army of 6 children fighting together an unseen foe.

99. The first pink lily turned its beautiful face to the sun (even with weeds surrounding it).

100. Standing with my children and enjoying the flowers...they didn't even notice the weeds, just the beauty that was there.

101. Sitting in the quonset with my oldest and youngest watching our pretty kitties come for their food. Jet black, gray and white, tabbies, so pretty, each unique.

102. Dewy sleep-warm cheeks pressed to mine early in the morning with soft kisses and lisping, "morning mommy..." coming from rose red lips.

103. The roots of weeds giving way before my fingers.

104. The first salad totally from my garden. Crisp lettuce, abundant dill, sharp green onions - a warm egg sliced on top with oil and vinegar dressing accompanied by homemade Italian cheese bread and butter, a little tomato soup made by my 8 year old on the side and a skor bit square for dessert. YUM!! No restaurant meal holds a candle to that.

105. The scent of fresh laundry coming off the line, drenched in sun.

106. The scent of pungent fresh dill........mmmmmmmmmmm love that smell.

107. Verbena and shea butter lotion, another heavenly scent.

108. Cooperation between two tiny people to perform the task of unloading the dishwasher, they entered the joy of working for the family wholeheartedly.

109. Jesus Loves Me sung at the top of 2 year old lungs.

110. Late evening walks hand in hand with the one I love.

111. Dogs protectively circling us as the coyotes howl.

112. A quiet house after a late evening walk.

113. Jasmine tea sipped out of beautiful cups purchased in Montreal.

114. Walking over 10000 steps in one day!

1 comment:

Carebear and Firestarter said...

thinking of me when you wrote this??

this is my problem....i had to chuckle at the way you expressed "the perfect world" with the fan gently blowing you hair...haha
may I allow God to sink this in!!!

my standards, goals...are so out there. im so impatient. thank you so much for sharing this today