Saturday, April 23, 2022

A Prelude (Sat, 04.23.22)

In the preface to their book Good Enough, authors Kate Bowler and Jessica Ritchie write: If you check your social media feed, the debate has been settled. Yes, you can be perfect. Other people are living beautiful, joyful, effortless lives. In fact, it’s embarrassing that you haven’t joined their ranks yet already. (p. vii)

Of course, that’s all written with tongues firmly planted in their cheeks.

But they’re right: somehow, a lot of us (like me and you since you’re reading this!) have gotten the idea in our heads that we actually can be perfect. Or at least get pretty darn close.

Try harder. Do better. Other people are already at the finish line (p. viii).

I’m the firstborn of five with most of those associated characteristics: confident, driven, determined, organized. (Did you know that almost all US Presidents are fellow firstborns?) A peacemaker/people-pleaser by nature. A high-achiever by nurture. I often think I should have gone into a profession that involved commissions, because I could work harder and longer than almost anyone I knew.

And then in November 2020, I started having seizures, and everything stopped.

After being stunned wore off, I started recalibrating my life’s rhythms because I was far exceeding my limits. I’m not sure I would have said I was striving for perfection; I think I just wanted to be a faithful servant of God in my vocation as a pastor. But being a “faithful servant” manifested itself in the habit of doing good, noble, helpful things at 100 mph during 12-14 hour days.

And guess what I learned? Poor quality of sleep and high amounts of stress are two of the biggest seizure triggers. I’m not saying that’s what caused my seizures (we haven’t figured that out), but if I kept living at that pace, I was going to do some serious damage to my brain. And my soul.

Long before I read this book, I realized that I needed to learn how to live a life that was “good enough,” and I am grateful for both the vocabulary as well as the permission to just be good enough. You don’t know what a relief this is for me. You can only strive after perfection for so long – live beyond your limits for so long – before your body and your soul begin to fall apart.  

I’ve been recalibrating the rhythms of work and rest for over a year now, but there are still moments when perfection is awfully sneaky and tempting. (You can read about a recent choice between perfection and good enough I wrote about here.)

But most days, I am totally on board with the idea that We are on the lookout for beauty and meaning and truth in the midst of lives that didn’t turn out like we thought they should. We can have lives where God breaks in and surprises us. We can learn to believe that we are blessed regardless of how our lives appear on social media or at high school reunions. We can begin to feel less alone, more loved, and less judged when good is … enough” (p xii).

It makes my heart happy that you’re along for the ride of learning that being good enough really is good enough.

Blessed are [we] who need a gentle reminder that even now, even today, God is here, and somehow, that is good enough.

Pastor Allison 


Allison Bauer said...

I know there have been some issues with people trying to comment. And I think I've figured out how to fix that.

If you commented before and it didn't show up, please try again!

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your story! I think it will be an inspiration for many others!