Again and Again

Coming out of this season of perfectionism (again!), I truly feel the difference between striving to do everything “just right” and accepting the moment and myself as is.  In little things, (which if we’re honest are the big things) like slowing down and engaging with the kids in the morning before they leave for school.  This morning I felt fully present without the mental chatter of what they or I still needed to accomplish by a certain time.  Taking in the moment while helping Sienna put on a bracelet and necklace, we discussed where she got them and how cute and delicate they both are.  Last night I sat at the dinner table while the kids finished their food and just soaked them both in. Ceasing to strive allows me to slow down and stop listening to the harsh inner voice that tells me to keep going, all day, every day.

On the other hand, when I’m living with rigidity and a fixed mindset, I approach everything and everyone as something I need to figure out, master or fix.  Thoughts such as “How do I get Sienna to finish her recommended reading book?” or “This person would be so much better off if they would just…” run through my mind routinely. Needing to always have the right answer is exhausting, and creates such disconnection from my loved ones and those I’m entrusted to lead. 

Living with openness and vulnerability, accepting that I do not know what the future holds, and having a growth mindset for myself and others allows for genuine connection and emotional depth in life.  Whereas, fear of making mistakes and striving to do everything perfectly keeps me from being able to engage, try, connect, and grow.   

It feels a little ridiculous that I continue to repeat this cycle of releasing my need for control/perfection and then embracing acceptance/connection.  But, last week my friend reminded me of a poem she’s shared with me before, which helped normalize this behavior.  It’s called Autobiography in Five Short Chapters:

Chapter I
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

Chapter II
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in… it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V
I walk down another street.

-Portia Nelson

I’ve relived Chapter 3 several times in the past few years!  I’m praying and seeking counsel to hopefully move into Chapter 4… eventually. 

It’s also possible that this cycle is going to repeat, to one degree or another, throughout my life because it’s part of the sinful human condition to want to be self-sufficient. There’s a spiritual component to this dance where I pull away from dependence on God while I strive to prove myself worthy instead of resting in His grace and love.  There’s a sense that I’m trying to earn God’s goodness by being good, instead of trusting that Jesus has already fulfilled my righteousness and I just need to receive and rejoice. 

Perhaps walking down another street in this metaphor looks like resting in grace, again and again. 

1 thought on “Again and Again”

  1. Using the poem is a great way to illustrate how each of us goes down our own well-worn path hoping for a different result. The last line is so good and likely the answer! Resting in His grace!! xoxo

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