I wish this weren’t the case, but I don’t love practice. Growing up, my family had a running joke that I played every sport- for a season or two, and then I was on to the next thing! Now, in and of itself there is nothing wrong with this. Though, the primary reason I kept moving was that I wanted to be instantly excellent at anything I tried. The practice wasn’t fun, but trying new things and looking for my hidden talents seemed quite appealing!
The truth is that the reason I didn’t love practice is because it reminded me of my weaknesses. Somehow more than the growth and progress I made, I saw lack and felt insecure. I compared myself with my teammates and didn’t feel confident enough to work at my craft in light of their success.
This boils down to believing the lie that my value is tied to my performance. Which is entirely not true! If it were, Jesus died for nothing, and we might as well all give up on hope for eternal life! Our worth is inexplicably tied to the fact that God made us in His image. He created us, chose us, and redeemed us- now seeing us only through Christ’s righteousness.* I know these truths in my head, but if I’m honest I’ll admit, God is still working it into my inmost being.
What is more, the idea that I am going to be a rock star at anything without practice, is a fallacy! No baby learns to walk without falling. No one learns how to run before walking. No marriage is solid without learning to navigate the bumps in life, and no one is stellar at something without practice and process. And, process inevitably involves failing and readjusting all along the way.
Therefore, the first significant step in choosing growth over fear (or perfection!) is to align ourselves with this truth: learning new things is a process, failure will be part of that process, and that’s okay! It’s even a good thing because if we learn how to fail well, it only propels us forward.
So, that’s step #1. Simply asking for God’s grace to accept that if our desire is to grow, it will be a process and there will be some bumps in the road. There will always be bumps in this process because we are learning all along the way!
Step #2 is to re-frame our lens. Instead of expecting instant perfection, exclaiming “I failed again,” or, “I will never change!” or, “I can’t seem to do anything right,” what if we changed our prayers? What if we responded with, “I’m learning. This is not where I want to be, but I’m going to keep moving forward. Father, teach me!”
Let’s pretend like we’re on that basketball court or in that music lesson as a little kid. The first time we tried a new shot, or chord, it probably didn’t go well. Because it was the first time we tried! We might have slumped down or felt embarrassed at our performance, thinking or saying, “I didn’t do well- I don’t want to try that again.” Instead, let’s partner with God’s mighty work in our lives and build resilience. Let’s exchange those negative words with “I’m learning. That was my first try, and I would like to get better. Father, teach me!”
It’s easy to think in terms of kid’s sports, right? The concrete example that is a bit removed from our daily life feels safe. Though, where the rubber meets the road is in the heart work. The areas we desire to grow in right now, but feel like a far cry from success. Things like trusting God, relying on His leadership instead of our own, changing patterns of communication with our spouse or important people, or letting go of control with our little ones!
I think the reasons we so often want to throw in the towel in these areas are the same as we felt as children. Perhaps we are embarrassed we aren’t “farther along” or don’t have this thing called life “figured out yet.” I think that’s why we don’t apply for promotions, risk telling friends when we’re hurt, or run after our dreams once we settle into adulting; it all goes back to fear and trying to serve perfection.
Though, that is absolutely not the life God calls us to! He came that we may have an abundant life! An overflowing life, saturated with His goodness.** A life of strife and performance is the opposite of abundant life. (I promise; I know a thing or two about this from personal experience.)
Life on God’s terms involves constant growth and increasing revelation. Revelation of who He is and who He says we are. This process requires risk and mistakes and even failure because all processes do! He is not afraid of the mess or lack of linear progression, instead, He is thrilled in our journey.
I believe He is standing before you with arms open wide, massive smile on His face, inviting you to embrace the journey of growth! To leave the sidelines of perfection, and choose to change your lens. Expecting bumps in the road as you try new things and asking for His help to stop saying, “I can’t,” “I failed,” “this hurts, and I want to quit.” Instead, let’s practice saying, “I’m learning, and I’m going to get better at this! Lord, teach me.”
What would your life be like if you exchanged the goal of instant success for the richness of growth?! What would shift in your career, marriage, and relationships? How would this free you to experience God in more profound ways than ever before?
Lord, show us the way. We want to lay down fear and performance and grow with you. Help us choose the journey of growth!
*For more on this amazing reality check out Romans 3:21-27!
**For more on this amazing reality check out John 10:10!