In January at my sister’s birthday dinner my mom asked each of us if we had a word for 2017. She had heard of this trend and found it to be a good idea. We went around the table sharing either the word we had thought of or the word that was now coming to mind. When it came to my turn I shared the phrase that had been speaking to me over the whole transplant experience: “Grace not Perfection”.
Of course when I thought of it I was reminded of the many places in the blogging world I had heard it, or the book I had purchased with it scrawled out so beautifully on the cover. I considered what I thought it would mean to Danny and I. While we continue on during this period of transplant recovery, life will continue to be very unexpected and the chapter that follows it very new. The experience will demand a fair amount of grace and rid me of all ability for perfection. Funny enough I figured this world that I had been living in for a month in half would make way for a new sense of control. Sure, still plenty unexpected – Dan won’t feel good… we will have hospital days… it will be a little chaotic with extra folks around to help…. but in other ways we would have this chance to start to rewrite our story. No more weekends that we are locked away waiting for Dan to find energy. No more being a pawn in the game of CF only permitted to move as the disease would dictate. Dan would feel stronger and better as the weeks went by, but we would still be introduced back to real life slowly and have a chance to actually design it the way we have always wanted it to be. Grace would only be a part of the story…. perfection is not realistic – but I still thought we would get a heck of lot closer to it.
The months that would follow this dinner I would actually be taught what my chosen mantra would mean. I have come to realize that grace not perfection has nothing to do with getting a little closer to being right or forgiving myself for not meeting all my goals, just half of them. Asking of God grace and then choosing to accept it would not be at all about the ideas and plans I had, but a total submission to the way He has selected, and being equipped through His gudiance to address whatever is sent my way.
Last week when I first started my post for 32 it was a list of the 10 things I was going to work on between now and 33. Here I was another year older and living in the middle of a life that has been taken completely out of my control and still I want to mark the milestone with a to do list. During that post I nodded off a few times – exhausted, yet I still felt the need to demand more work to be done. Eventually I gave up writing that post, just continued on with my week and taking part in the celebration of my birthday. Those next few days were a mix of gratitude for the many blessings in my world and disappointment for the areas that still aren’t going the way I had hoped. Something about the week would make some of those black marks of frustration seem more evident – as a result I would pray for patience and understanding…. to my surprise it was answered.
My inclination is to look at this year as a new beginning and yet another chance to make my life closer to perfect. But what I eventually came to realize is the grace I was leaving behind. The grace to look around my world and not see what is missing- but what makes it full. I heard from many folks who took the time to say happy birthday, share how much they care, and send their best wishes for my future. Through grace: don’t see who isn’t there…. see who is there. When plans got shifted around or flat out ruined instead of “well of course that is the mess of our life right now”, through grace: lean into a chance to enjoy something that wasn’t planned, but brought another type of enjoyment to the day. And most importantly there were several moments that I was prompted to stop and look around….. so much of this life I am living I did not plan, yet the littlest things in it bring such incredible peace and contentment. If I am surprised at where I find myself and yet have times of feeling so fulfilled as a result of the unexpected – why the heck aren’t I focusing on that and thanking my lucky stars I am not in charge of my life? Instead I am blessed that it is the one who knows what it is my heart most desires.
When I reflect back on this birthday what I really want to remember is the incredibly powerful feelings of hope and gratitude that when I stopped looking at the imperfections and just existed would wash over me. Grace is the ability to say I have no idea what life holds, but thanks to faith my only responsibility is to trust. Perfection is never going to be defined as the sort of image I have in mind. But rather in the moments that I have found myself in the worst spot – a predicament I would never have willingly accepted – and I am given a gift: God has spoken to me through a special book, or I have come across a person who opens my mind and heart in such a profound way. Those experiences …. this life…. these lessons never would have ever existed if I got to choose my own path. If I was living focused on the list of 10 items I am going to fix. There is nothing wrong with improving…. setting goals… chasing dreams…. I just don’t want to forget to appreciate the here and now of the life I have been given for over 32 years.
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!