This I believe…
I believe in grace. Grace defined as an unearned and undeserved fresh start. I don’t just admire it or wish for it, I absolutely must have it. You see, I am a perfectionist. I suffer from the worst kind of perfectionism, the kind that sets an expectation to live life without error and expects nothing less of others with whom I share the planet. Grace is the gift that has allowed me to learn to live with myself and others.
Being the eldest of four sisters, I could blame it on my birth order. Or, I could blame it on my childhood. I grew up as a military brat where rules ruled, right was right, wrong was wrong, and there was no in-between. However, the truth is that I believe perfectionism is just a part of my God-given personality, nature versus nurture. It is part of what makes me, well, me! This theory is reinforced by the fact that none of my other siblings suffer this affliction to perfectionism at the same level I achieve and yet, we were all parented very similarly.
Fortunately, my life has also been blessed with this gift of grace. I first realized the gift, not where you might expect it. Not at home, from my parents, or in a Sunday school class, but, instead, in the view from the rear window of our family station wagon. It appeared to me each time we pulled away from the curb of our most recent Clorox-scrubbed home to head off toward the next duty station, which meant new adventures, new schools, new friends and a new life. I learned to leave the errors of my past at the curb, practically visible, next to the broken chair and the tricycle with the missing wheel, awaiting the trash service pick-up. Throughout my childhood and into my college years, at least once every three years, I was given the gift of erasing the errors of my life through a “do-over.”
As I matured and was able to recognize starting afresh with no foregone conclusions or historical expectations as “grace,” I also became aware of my ability to share this gift with others. Even better, I found I could receive and give it without having to physically move to start over.
I admit it is harder to accept and give the gift of grace without the benefit of physically removing oneself from the imperfection. But, the sense of joy received from being in community with people long term encourages me. By learning to live with my history, imperfections and all, I have gained family and friends who know all of me – the good, the bad and the ugly – and yet, they choose to accept, love, and care for me; and I for them. My hope is that someday my family and friends will remember me more for my ability to accept and share grace than for my ability to meet some level of perfection.
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