Present Over Perfect
Leaving Behind Frantic for a More Soulful Way of Living
“God hasn’t invited us into a disorderly, unkempt life, but into something holy and beautiful – as beautiful on the inside as the outside.” 1Thessalonians 4:7 The Message
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist is an open-armed invitation to welcome the people we love and even ourselves back into our lives. Move from exhaustion to peace, from hustling/multi-tasking to sacred presence. God wants us to know Him and feel His love in a way that grounds and reorders everything. Stop. Breathe. Connect. Love. And then delight in His grace.
Shauna realized this deep need from her get-aways to Lake Michigan, where her days are on a natural rhythm, dependent upon the sky, the water, the wind and weather. “Busyness is an illness of the spirit.” – Eugene Peterson.
Choose to Re-balance Before Dis-ease: Generally, no one changes until the pain level gets high enough. How many moments of connection have we missed by being too busy, too tired, too frantic, and too inefficient? It is time to meet our adult responsibility of resting your body and soul. The Jewish tradition has so much to teach us about Sabbath. We have the important ability to intentionally keep something (goal/task/project) small or deliberately do something slow or say NO to too many things in your life.
Be More Careful with Your Yeses: “The word that changed everything, of course. Is NO. I’d been saying yes and yes and yes, indiscriminately, haphazardly, resentfully for years. But you cannot have a yes without a no. Another way to say it: if you’re not careful with your yeses, you start to say no to some very important things without realizing it. In my rampant yes-yes-yes-ing, I said no, without intending to, to rest, to peace, to groundedness, to listening, to deep & slow connection, and most importantly to God and my husband and children.”
STOP right now. Put the brakes on your fast life and refocus. Say many more No’s for a season to rebuild and get your life under control. Consider the legacy you are leaving. Spend more energy on those who positively give back to you. Many people don’t like to hear no, and we don’t like to disappoint. That’s why it’s important to remember you do not want to disappoint God or your body or your spouse & children! Remind yourself of God’s deep unconditional love for you when you feel bad about disappointing others. Draw close to people who honor your ‘no’.
“What people think about you means nothing in comparison to what you believe about yourself.” Keep growing your belief in your own worth because of God’s love. Set aside time daily to be with God in relationship with Him. Pour out your heart & fears to Him, be still & listen, study the Bible & pray. He has all the time in the world to sit with you. He welcomes all your fears and feelings and failings – that’s what love is! Keep receiving and filling up with His love, just as you receive His communion. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10. True silence cannot be avoided if you want to be a truly connected spiritual person.
Pay attention to your “should’s” – feeling or telling yourself you “should do something”, but you don’t feel like you “want” to do something. This is a warning sign often from the Holy Spirit that you MUST consider your decision and trust when you want to say NO. Even a great opportunity or something that could help a lot of people could be the wrong thing for you to do because it may be wrong for you or your spouse & family. Shauna says, “The NO you say is making space for YES. And this space is wonderful and something I haven’t had before.”
Shauna worked with a counselor to help her rebuild her core. And her life is marked now by quiet, connection, simplicity & groundedness (and space, silence, stillness, Sabbath). She says: “What I find now is that stillness is where I feel safe & grounded. Frantic living takes me away from myself, away from my very precious awareness of how deeply I’m loved. In silence, I have found love. I have found love, and peace, and stillness, and gratitude. For the first time in my life, it’s when I am alone and quiet that I feel my strength. I want to leave this legacy for my children.”
From the Message, Matthew 11:28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll tell you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”