“. . . therefore I quote” Anna Quinland

I read, therefore I quote.

And eventually being perfect became like carrying a backpack filled with bricks every single day. And oh, how I wanted to lay my burden down. So if any of this sounds in any way familiar to you, if you have been trying to be perfect too, then perhaps today is the day to put down that backpack before you develop permanent curvature of the spirit. Trying to be perfect may be inevitable for people who are smart and ambitious and interested in the world and in its good opinion. But at some level it’s too hard, and at another, it’s too cheap and easy. Because all it really requires of you, mainly is to read the zeitgeist of wherever and whenever you happen to be and to assume the masks necessary to be the best at whatever the zeitgeist dictates or requires. Those requirements shape-shift, sure, but when you’re clever you can read them and come up with the imitation necessary.

But nothing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great, ever came out of imitation. What is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.

More difficult because there is no zeitgeist to read, no template to follow, no mask to wear. Terrifying, actually, because it requires you to set aside what your friends expect, what your family and your co-workers demand, what your acquaintances require, to set aside the messages this culture sends, through its advertising, its entertainment, its disdain, and its disapproval, about how you should behave.

. . . Begin with the most frightening of all things, a clean slate. And then look, every day, at the choices you are making, and when you ask yourself why you are making them, find this answer: Because they are what I want, or wish for. Because they reflect who and what I am.

I’ve L O N G since stopped trying to be perfect. That’s another post. That’s not where my mind went today when I read “Being Perfect” by Anna Quindlen.

Instead, I’ve been thinking about those last three paragraphs above. Last week I watched Facing the Giants – the entire movie, in 10 minute increments, on youtube. (I will definitely be purchasing this movie for my family.) It’s a football movie, sure, but it encompasses so much more. Since watching the movie, I’ve found myself thinking quite a bit about the overall messages presented.

I’ve written recently about being prepared for opportunity. In the Facing the Giants, a man tells a story about faith and preparation:

I’ve been preparing for opportunity. I’ve been taking action. But my goal has been . . . unfocused. I’m taking advantage of every opportunity I come across, but it’s all adding up to a big pile of puzzle pieces. I haven’t been able to figure out, as Anna Quinland said, “what I want or what I wish for.”

I think I’ve figured out what I want. The coach in Facing the Giants articulated it for me:

“I resolve to give God everything I’ve got. Then I’ll leave the results up to Him.”

So, I’ll continue to prepare for opportunity. Or rain, whichever is in my future. But my focus isn’t only on the logistics anymore. It’s on giving God everything I’ve got. And leaving the results up to Him. That means spending more time in my Bible. And in prayer. And not just in praise and thanks and petitions, but quietly as well. Abiding. (I’m not that good at “doing nothing,” so abiding is difficult for me.) And I’m going to start with a clean slate. I’m going to take my past into consideration, of course, it led me to where and who I am right now. But I’m not going to let momentum lead me into the future. Or be distracted by confessed sin and the past. Rather, in His promise of no condemnation, looking both forward to the future and, more importantly, engaging – really ENGAGING in the present, I’m going to focus on “giving Him the best I’ve got.” (oh, you just THOUGHT I approached life with intention BEFORE. Just wait. I’m going to be . . . tenacious.)

And I feel like I need to clarify. I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of “finding” my “one” purpose or figuring out God’s “perfect” plan for my life. If one person misses God’s “perfect will” for their lives, it would impact too many other people and cause them to miss out on God’s perfect will for THEIR life. Just marrying the “wrong” person means their spouse didn’t marry the right person and so on and so on. I’ve written about it before in a post entitled “learning in flux” but basically here’s what I believe (in a tiny little nutshell):

If I am a God fearing, faith filled, honorable woman who makes choices based on Biblical wisdom, then within the moral will of God, whatever I decide to do, will be equally pleasing to God. And whatever choices I make, I know “that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and who have been called according to His purpose.” HIS purpose. It’s not about me. It’s about me giving Him my very best. Preparing for rain. And leaving the results up to Him.

This last clip is the one that compelled me to watch the entire movie. This is the clip that inspires me. And while many viewers may be inspired and encouraged by Brock’s determination to make it to the 50 yard line, I am inspired by the coach and his determination to show Brock how much more he could accomplish if he gave God his best effort.

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