Present Over Perfect. -Shauna Niequist
Holy and sacred moments are rare for me these days but are welcomed with open arms. I will say this first, holy and sacred moments are not just for the Christian. They are for humanity. Today sitting in a noisy Starbucks, I know you aren’t surprised about that, I had one of those moments.
Christmas music blares, shoppers hustle by, Christmas decorations are over the street I’m looking at as I sip my Chai. It should be warm here in the Southern Hemisphere, but it’s dreary and dark. It kind of matches my soul this week. I love Christmas and summer and for the first time since I moved to New Zealand I was looking forward to Christmas not bitter it was in the middle of summer. But life happened this week. Stress about finances and jobs not yet received, sadness at the presents I can’t buy, frustration at my behaviour towards my husband and an overwhelming feeling I can’t even articulate. I follow the author Shauna Niequist. Today I sat in Starbucks in the hubbub of the Christmas season and tears pricked at my eyes as I read her blog. She’s coined a phrase “Present Over Perfect.” She even collaborates with a brilliant artist, Lindsay Letters, to sell quotes of this phrase among many other quotes and phrases. I have loved the style and loved this particular quote for awhile now but today…today amongst my business that looks nothing like hers, the inadequacies because of that truth I feel, the stress that looms over my head, and the constant nerves about the resumes I just hand delivered I had a holy and sacred moment.
Her words were beautiful, but it was the spirit of her words I got caught up in as I read. It’s hard to describe a holy and sacred moment, the best I can do is use words that could never do it justice, but maybe just maybe you can relate. I was lost in my thoughts, the words Present Over Perfect, the details I had left to do that day before Kindy pick up. And then everything slowed down. Everything seemed to pause and say remember this moment, this feeling, this spot, for something good is happening. You know in movies when things go on around a character yet they are still and smiling, taking it all in with joy? That’s what it feels like for me. There were no great ideas, no direction I got, no ringing phone with a job offer, just a stillness in chaos.
I sometimes wish for this season of Medical School to be done. I wrongly think, when it’s over life will be easier, we won’t be as stressed and worried about money or jobs. Deep in my heart I know that’s not true. This moment is important. It’s revealing ideas and thoughts in my heart that are good and scary. It showing me things about my marriage I desperately want different and it’s opening up circumstances that I would never have dreamed up on my own.
But some days it’s still hard. Why can’t I figure out a skill and job for myself here? I’m embarrassed that I can help others but can’t seem to get myself interviews or jobs. Why are marriage talks so deep and painful sometimes? Why is the bloody mirror to yourself so accurate?
Present Over Perfect. Shauna’s mantra is becoming mine. For different reasons I’m quoting it. This life we are leading is our choice and I actually love it, most days. If I remember the goal isn’t a perfect life but a present life I serve my husband, my child, my marriage, my friends, myself better. Present over perfect. A present marriage not a perfect marriage. A present moment playing cars with my son not a perfect mom. A present moment as I apply for jobs not a perfect candidate, but a real one.
Christmas just isn’t busy for us yet, but I still desperately need and want to live Present Over Perfect. To be present is hard especially if you have different expectations of your life or circumstances. In that crazy moment in Starbucks no one noticed, my life circumstances didn’t change and my bank account didn’t fill with money but I was present in my stress and my life. It isn’t perfect but I was present for it. I didn’t let fear ruin it. I didn’t run away and busy myself. I was just present. My grossly imperfect self in my beautifully imperfect life. I was present.