It’s kind of the worst when your own words come back to get you. Like that one time a few weeks ago (okay one of the many times in the last few weeks…) when I got all worked up about life and vocation and announced that I was absolutely not going to be a pastor. And then I remembered how that one time I wrote a blog post that literally included “Why I Need to Be a Pastor” in the title. Or the time I wrote another post in which I announced that my New Year’s Resolution was going to be to learn how to fail, which seriously sends shivers down my spine at the mere thought. Failure? No thanks. I’m just going to pretend my WordPress account was hacked by another blogger. Or that time (like last night) when I heard myself say to a friend, “It’s okay to allow yourself to fail. Perfection is unattainable. It doesn’t exist. God’s grace is more than enough. You are so, so loved regardless of your achievements or your failures or literally anything you do.” My friend kindly told me to take my own advice.
The topic of perfectionism came up in a conversation with another dear friend last evening as well. “Your goal,” she told me, “is in the next week to turn one assignment in that you have not deemed perfect. Turn in something that is only ‘good enough.’ Write something that is mediocre.” I was appalled. Mediocrity? I suppose she wants me to make grammatical errors as well. The horror of it all. I mumbled something about how I would try but that I didn’t have any papers due this week, so, you know, it wasn’t really my fault if I couldn’t achieve said goal. (It’s a weird, weird thing when an overachiever is given a goal to do something imperfectly…)
And then I woke up this morning and realized just how tired I was. Not the “I didn’t sleep well” kind of tired but the exhausted to your core kind of tired. That kind of exhaustion that comes from running yourself dry, from pushing yourself just a little too hard toward that goal you can’t quite attain. I felt like my brain and my heart were in million different places: with friends dealing with some really hard problems that at the end of the day aren’t for me to solve (even though I love them so, so dearly), with a million papers and seminary assignments that always seem to leave just a little more room for improvement, with a ministry job in which I never feel even a little bit caught up or sufficient, with an ever-growing list of people and family members who I’ve been meaning to call, with a blog in which I keep promising to write more regularly, with a list of Lenten practices that I haven’t kept since a day or two after Ash Wednesday, with a Facebook page filled with invites to community life activities that I really should be attending but don’t quite have the energy, with an apartment that needs cleaning, with a summer that needs planning, with a messy vocation that I insist I should just be able to sit down and “figure out.” And of course, for me, it’s never enough to just show up or to do things well enough to cross off my list. If I’m going to do something, I feel like I need to do it perfectly. But the reality is, I just can’t, and just maybe, that’s not the reality into which I am called to live. And maybe, believe it or not, the world (or the Church) actually isn’t mine to save.
So, today, I’m going to try to do something crazy. I’m going to strive to just be good enough. Not perfect. Not superwoman. Not even above average. Just enough. And just maybe I’ll find that God’s grace surrounds me too.