Thursday, July 13, 2017

Present Over Perfect

If you could see my house right now—the overflowing number of Birchbox samples and Lord forbid, my closet—you might think I was completely carefree. And unorganized. (The latter of which would probably be true.)

But in reality, the notion of perfection has always been an inner dialogue for me, and sometimes, it can become paralyzing. So that I could throw the fiftieth hairspray sample away, but would if I needed it next week? And the mountain of shoes accumulating in my closet probably does need attending, but where would I even start? The Pinterest image in my head is too far away from reality, and so I just . . . don’t.

Been there?

The problem is, when the stakes are higher, so is the fear. (See where I’m going with this?) So that maybe you’ve got your first real deadline from a publisher, or an agent, or maybe you’re just bound and determined to meet your own deadline of finishing your WIP before a writing conference this year.

So you sit down at your computer, and one of two things happen. Either you spend countless time staring at the blinking cursor, or you madly dash toward an arbitrary word count, just to get those pages filled.

And either way, you come away dissatisfied. Unsettled. Because all your striving . . . well, it just wasn’t enough.

What if there was another way? A better way?

Lately in my writing, God has been teaching me to wait on Him for cues. We all say we want to wait on Him, and that’s fine and dandy until we need twenty more pages for our word count goals. But I’m learning that I could sit down for hours, writing away for the sake of achievement, all the while, spinning in circles. I can let fear of the unknown and rejection paralyze me from writing at all (--Is that where you are today? Because I’ve been there too.).

Or, I can wait on Him.

I can invite His presence into my story, and move when He moves. I can wait for those organic AH HA! moments to fall into place. And the funny thing is, I’m realizing I’m vastly more productive when I do.

Today I want to encourage you to be present over perfect. Because perfection and striving will leave you dangerously reliant on your own strength. Become more aware of the monologue inside your own mind and heart. What standards are you holding yourself to, and how do those align with the Spirit of God? Has your perfectionism become a stumbling block to the greater things God has called you toward? Are you so afraid of being imperfect that you’re afraid to move at all?

Let me hear from you! How do you manage to stay present with God rather than focusing on perfection?


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.


Debra E. Marvin said...

As a crafter at heart, I learned to never wait for perfection. The joy is in the process and no one else sees the imperfections. I find it's hardest to let go of that final edit of a manuscript. We could tweak ad nauseum, right? A lovely post today, Ashley, when I've been so busy I don't even know when I've had time to sit and talk to God when I wasn't 'in motion'.
Have a lovely weekend, ladies!

kaybee said...

Good morning, Ashley. This is so true. We need to be disciplined, but it is nothing without that Breath of God. It is like every other facet of the Christian life. My husband was a full-time pastor for a while, and he could make the requisite number of calls each week, but unless he depended on God to work, it was just showing up. When my children were small, I did all the right things to keep them alive. But it's because I waited on God that they are who they are today.
Kathy Bailey

Robin E. Mason said...

Ashley, Father showed me several years ago that perfectionism is a cruel - and impossible - task master. rather, i strive for excellence - my best some days falls way short of perfect but if done with excellence then i've done well. i am an artist and crafter and could literally use *any* thing to make art. i have recently begun a clean and purge of my whole house (life really) - too much for a comment box but i'm blogging about it (vulnerable accountability.) but the freedom in nowing that i don't have to be perfect is a great burden i no longer carry!

Glynis said...

The paralyzing perfectionism is something I have fought my entire life. I've struggled through seasons of this for years and know that I am happiest -- and most productive -- when I let go. But way easier said than done. I wish I had wise words to share, but I'm glad that you did! These were things I needed to hear today. Thank you!