Today is a guest post by a Mary Carver. She is lovely and funny and her words here are such a balm to the soul. Enjoy!
I call myself “a recovering perfectionist,” but the truth is that my recovery is an achingly slow process.
While I’m more gentle with myself – and others – today than I was a few years ago, I still have miles to go before I am living in and with grace the way I long to. One of the biggest obstacles in this journey is the expectations I have about just about everything: my husband and my children, my career and my ministry, my home, my hair, my weight, myself in general.
Over the past two years I’ve had the honor to work on a book, a compilation of blog posts and stories written by Sara Frankl, a friend and fellow blogger who passed away in 2011. Reading her words once again has challenged me to think about expectations differently – and to realize how much I miss when I hold onto my dreams and hopes with a death grip rather than letting them go to receive the actual gifts I’ve been given.
Sara faced incredible pain and loss every day, but she also determined to find the blessings in her every day. She lost the ability to have a family, her career, the ability to sing and dance the way she had as a young woman, and eventually even the ability to leave her home. But rather than linger on what she’d lost and what she’d hoped for but would never have, she turned her eyes to the blessings she’d been given – and to Jesus.
I’m starting to think that life mainly consists of learning to accept things we say will never happen to us. I’m sure you have your own examples. I have friends who swore they would always work but now love being stay-at-home moms. I have friends who were sure they’d want to stay at home with their kids who would go crazy if they didn’t have a job outside of the home to challenge them. A good friend of my family got married, and both he and his wife are successful doctors who never wanted kids. They are now captivated by their three beautiful boys.
Life takes us by surprise, and we learn to embrace what is meant to be, rather than what we meant to create.
I write a lot about the silver lining. That’s not just some sort of “Pollyanna-ish” way to look at life for me. I have a quote on my wall by Maurice Setter that says, “Too many people miss the silver lining because they’re expecting gold.” I love that quote not because of the optimistic silver lining, but because of its focus on the expectation of something better.
I think our expectations of what we want life to be often overshadow the good things that are already in front of us – and that’s when we miss the silver lining.
All God asks of us is to live the best life we can with what we are given. In other words, we are all given different blessings and different crosses to bear, which means we can only take care of what’s in front of us in that moment and do the best we can.
As my life changed over the years these truths proved to be something I needed to hear. I needed to remind myself that my old gifts were gone, and they didn’t serve me in living my best life anymore. I had new gifts and crosses given to me, and I had to rethink how to live my life with them. It took a while to find my new normal, and that continues to change on a daily basis.
But when my focus is on living the best life I can with what I have in that moment, I always find my silver lining. I’m not expecting the gold I used to have. I’m not looking for the gold that I think I should have. I’m looking at the silver right in front of me and saying thank you every day.
What unexpected silver lining are you be grateful for today?
If you enjoyed this excerpt from Choose Joy: Finding Hope & Purpose When Life Hurts, you can learn more about the book and its authors at TheChooseJoyBook.com.
Mary Carver is a writer, speaker, and recovering perfectionist. She writes about her imperfect life with humor and honesty, encouraging women to give up on perfect and get on with life, at www.givinguponperfect.com.
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