Daily Devotions

Stop Trying to be Perfect

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For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

 

I came across an amazing article title by Saar Oran, “Don’t Just Accept Failure, Expect It!” We live in a society where admitting failure is a sign of weakness. It is as if good, strong, successful people have the capacity to be perfect. You see it in certain self-help books that tell you to dress for success; walk with purpose; stand tall; and never admit failure!

This emotional dishonesty is antithetical to the Christian faith. We understand that Christ alone was perhaps the only human being to be perfect, and he was also fully Divine. Yet, we get so surprised and angry when other people fail us. Perhaps even worse, we get overwhelmed when we admit our own failures, even to ourselves. Failure can even be a gift, because it helps us understand our fundamental need for God. Failure helps us realize we cannot live life meaningfully without our Triune God.

Living life with an expectation that failure can, and should, be overcome is painful and fatalistic. Overcoming this malady is necessary for one to live a healthy, faithful, and enriching life. Begin first with yourself. Before you try to “fix” someone else, remember the old phrase, “Physician, heal thyself.” Work on addressing your fear of failure in your own life. Begin to recognize, rationally, the impossibility of anyone living beyond failure.

Finally, pray for God to bring wholeness that doesn’t require perfection. Pray for God to bless you with the gift of grace. Failure is not a death sentence. Grace overcomes failure. God understands our inability to be perfect. God doesn’t condemn us for our failures, but simply calls on us to trust even more. Begin this process of cleansing yourself of the burden that is perfectionism. Your faith will become stronger, and it will make for a happier you.

Finally, An Athlete Who is a Role Model

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When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:17-18)

 

Over the past few months I’ve been watching the courageous efforts of professional basketball player Kevin Love. Kevin Love plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he announced this spring that he struggles with anxiety. Sportswriter Jackie MacMullan was interviewing Cavalier’s player Channing Frye, and asked if his depression was brought on by the death of his parents. In the next locker, teammate Kevin Love cryptically said, “We all go through something,” and he got up and walked away. Over the following weeks, Frye’s honest courage gave Kevin Love confidence to share his own story.

Kevin Love shared his own story of anxiety. Since this spring, Kevin Love has been sharing his story and forcing the world to face their own struggles. Hanna Brooks Olsen, in her article, “To Everyone Who’s Just Barely Holding It Together,” reminds us all that mental illness is part of many lives and at different stages of our lives. I love Olsen’s statement, “The thing that few people will ever admit is that all of us are feeling for the switch in the dark every day and some days we find it and some days we don’t and some days we do but the bulb is burned out and even just the reaching and reaching is an accomplishment.”

Kevin Love is taking a big risk. In a sport that pays its athletes millions of dollars per year, owners look for any weaknesses that might keep their investment from producing. There is a real fear that if a player is “outed” for having a mental health issue, they will lose their job, their livelihood, their calling. The fear of being viewed as weak keeps many people from getting the help they need. The process begins with the fallacy that it is only an unfortunate few who struggle with mental illness. Kevin Love and Hanna Brooks Olsen remind us that the vast majority of people struggle with mental illness at some point in their lives. It isn’t a weakness, but a challenge to be faced and brought to healing.

Today, instead of praying for an individual, pray for our society and the way we address mental illness. The only weakness is in thinking we are immune. The only weakness is in thinking we are above it. The only weakness is in thinking we can ignore it or even gut it out. Ask God to bring healing to our society’s views of mental illness. Pray for God to transform our system that provides too little support for those with mental illness. Ask God to provide care to those suffering with mental illness and those who bring suffering to others. God can bring clarity, and put the emphasis and the money behind mental illness care.

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