New Year New Goals

My first blog post of 2019! Yay!

           

            I have been thinking about my New Years post for about a week now, and of course, I’m writing it at 11:00 p.m. on January 2nd. But, I think that fact alone sums up my perspective of 2019. Imperfection. Embracing imperfection.

            Looking back on 2018, I can’t say it is a year I’d do again. No, not just because of back surgery, but all in all, 2018 was a year of personal growth, not always in the easiest of ways. In 2018, I learned who I am, who the people around me are, and the image of the person I aspire to be. 2018 was a year for me to learn to expect the unexpected. If you know me, you know I’m a planner, academically organized, life-planning freak, and in 2018, I learned that planning out your life and ACTUALLY expecting it to go that way is a complete and total joke. We can plan out goals, events, and practical things, but planning out to have a “perfect semester” or be a “perfect significant other” or “perfect friend, blogger, Instagrammer, etc.” is, in reality, the last way God planned out your life to be. Thinking about it, I concluded with the thought that if God planned our lives to be perfect on Earth, we would never look forward to Heaven. We would not need to pray, or go to church, or think upon Godly thoughts, or look forward to Heaven, I mean, why would we, if life were perfect on Earth?

             The truth is, Earth is imperfect. I’m imperfect, you’re imperfect. You are destined to live an imperfect life and believing otherwise only sets you up for a life of constant, literally constant, disappointment.

            You might be thinking, what more is there to it? I get it, my life will have problems, it already has/had/does. But, it’s not that simple. I’m here to admit that for the last several months, “embracing imperfection” has been my enemy. This is where the devil really gets to me and tricks me over and over again. It’s easy to state, “I’m embracing imperfection,” but I wrote this entire post three days ago and deleted it. Why? I didn’t feel like it was good enough, worded well enough, or made enough sense. Thoughts like, “people are going to think I’m an extremely negative person,” or “I really don’t think other people struggle with this,” or “this sounds so dramatic” wrapped my brain and I thought, what new road can I take to a post about 2018 and 2019? No matter how many times I tried to think of new ideas or read other bloggers’ posts about the New Year, this “embracing imperfection” idea wouldn’t leave my heart.

             So, after lots of thinking, I felt like the best way to write this post was through honesty. My #1 New Years Resolution is to be more honest with myself. I’ll explain what that means later in this post. Now, you’re probably thinking, what does that mean, what’s the honest truth about embracing imperfection?

            Embracing imperfection means self-honesty and honesty with others. NOT to be confused with going around complaining and radiating negativity everywhere. Aka, “how’s your day?” “so terrible. I didn’t want to get out of bed and go to work. I hate rainy days.” This is not the type of honestly I’m referring to in any way. But, the honest as in, I didn’t feel like it was honest of me to post about how great 2018 was and how I’m so excited to see what 2019 holds, because I’m glad to see 2018 go. Honest as in it is dishonest for me to share a month-by-month highlight of my year because one day cannot honestly sum up months of pain, confusion, and learning things the hard way.

             As I was thinking about the correct words to say in this post, I came across Lysa TerKeurst’s Facebook post that read,
                        “The pursuit of perfection leads to pretending.

                        Pretending encourages others to chase perfection.

                        And it’s all just so very exhausting.

Let’s give each other the gift of transparency and grace as we pursue Jesus.   Because perfection doesn’t exist on this side of eternity.”

            As I read this post, I knew literally could not have said it better myself. Embracing imperfection doesn’t mean spreading negativity, but rather, being real with ourselves and those around us. Sure, nobody’s going to post pictures of them crying, fighting with others, sick, etc. on Instagram, but it’s important to me not to portray an image that Instagram is my reality. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. will never match up to my day to day life. In 2019, I’m pledging to myself to be more in the moment and less in the highlight reels. Not even because I want to be off my phone more at dinner, but because I want to be more honest with myself. I’ve never felt BETTER by scrolling through Instagram than I have when I had a real conversation with someone.

All in all, it’s exhausting. It’s draining. It leads to disappointment and feelings of failure. On days when I have had a migraine all day, or didn’t sleep at all, it’s exhausting to sit at work on a rainy day and scroll through countless photos of people I follow traveling in New York City, or laying out on tropical islands, or shopping with friends. It makes you feel like, “I wish I was in New York. I wish I was that skinny and tan. I wish I had more money. I wish I had teeth that white. I wish I.... etc.” and those thoughts are simply not of the Lord. When your life is so consumed with the thought that your life should be perfect, you’re not even paying attention to the positivity, people, beauty of the photos you’re scrolling through, but instead, the enemy speaks to you through each and every one. This is when you have to use self-honesty and walk away from the places the enemy targets you most. This is when you have to leave those things and those thoughts behind.

             In 2018, I’m leaving behind the strive for self-perfection and focusing more on the strive for logical, reasonable success and self-care. Successful relationships, not perfect relationships. Beneficial, positive social media sharing, not perfect social media. A successful semester, not a perfect semester. A reasonable self-image goal, not a perfect self-image goal. A successful year of growth, love, health, and positivity, not a perfect year.

            When you set goals such as these, they’re more achievable, and you feel better achieving them. If I set a GPA goal of a 3.8 for a semester, I feel better achieving a 3.8 than setting a goal for a 4.0 and only getting a 3.8. If I set a goal to maintain beneficial body image and self-care, I feel better losing a couple of pounds by cutting out soft drinks and taking better care of my skin, than setting the goal to be _ lbs, skinny, tan, and hot by summer and not noticing much change at all. It’s all in training your soul and body to strive for success rather than perfection, because you will never achieve perfection. Sure, the gifts God gave us may allow us to achieve perfection in small ways by making a 100 on a test or… (it’s actually really hard to think of many more ways you can literally do something “perfectly”), but nobody in mere existence except Jesus Christ will ever be perfect. So, who says we should even try?

             The most difficult but most beneficial way for me to “embrace imperfection” is to remember that if my life isn’t perfect and isn’t as put together as social media may seem, then neither is anyone else’s. Yes, I can post that 2018 was an amazing year, but I gained 12 pounds in 3 months, have probably consumed more entire bottles of over-the-counter pain relief in 4 months than a healthy person does in a year, and sleep through the entire night without waking up maybe once every week or even two. I’m a control freak over my life and even after semesters of making the President’s and Dean’s list and accepting an internship still wonder, is this really what I want to do? Am I good enough, fun enough, cool enough? Are my posts and stories attractive enough? Am I thin enough, fit enough? I need to whiten my teeth, go to the gym, run miles, stop eating fast food, leave everything but water in 2018, be cuter, be more talkative when I tend to be more quiet natured, go on more dates, etc. etc. When you live life striving for perfection, thoughts like these never end. You wake up in the morning exhausted and go to bed exhausted. You’re constantly thinking you’re not enough, or not doing enough. With a mindset like this, you will never be enough.

            With a mindset that embraces imperfection and only wants to please God versus people, your thoughts lessen of ideas like the ones above. You become more alert, more present, more attentive to details and happiness. You become more invested in people than things. You realize that money doesn’t matter, feelings do. Time means more than money in so many different ways. You do more of the things you enjoy. You seek health and self-care versus unreachable attractiveness. You wake up in the morning feeling thankful and refreshed and you go to bed feeling hopeful. Your thoughts change to, “I’m following God’s path for me,” “I’m an authentic person and stay true to who I am and what my life really looks like,” “I’m thankful for what I have,” and prefer people over things. You realize that the only things going to Heaven with us are the people around us, not what we own or buy. You make more memories than posts. Because in this mindset, you live to be successful and happy on Earth, and know that you will live in perfection in Heaven. Make Heaven worth the wait and stop trying to make a sin-bound Earth even the slightest bit of the same.

             The key to embracing imperfection is remembering that you need God on your best days just as much as you need Him on your worst. The meaning of embracing imperfection is in the phrase, “the best is yet to come.” Even on our best. day., our very. best. day., the BEST days will be our days in Heaven. No earthly day will ever be our best day. If our best day on Earth is not even our soul’s best day, then our life on Earth will never compare to our life in Heaven.

            In 2019, I’m praying for my imperfect life to settle better with my soul. I’m praying to adopt a mindset that understands that perfection is of the devil. They say, “don’t set yourself up for failure,” but really, don’t set yourself up for perfection. Set yourself up for reachable success. Everyone’s level of reached success is different, as everyone’s goals are different, but set yourself up for things that are worth working for, and that your work is enough to accomplish.

            In 2019, I’m praying for God to show me how to be more in the moment and less in the screens, and how to love others more. I’m praying for God to show me how He wants me to use my skills and gifts to show others His love for them. I’m praying for new challenges and new skills, new opportunities and new glimpses of His plan for my life. I’m praying for the strength I need to watch my ideas of perfect life die, and see the ideas He has for my life. Even in the gray areas and the unclear moments, I’m praying for the strength to follow God. When I’m forced to take on the things that aren’t supposed to be this way, or don’t make sense at all, I’m praying for the ability to trust that these things are of His plan for me.

             When I compare my life to a perfect life, I’m left in a puddle of disappointment, confusion, and no strength in God. 2018 began with expectations of a perfect body that turned into a new, unwanted scar on my left side and my back being opened up for the third time. 2018 began with expectations of 4.0s that turned into 3.2s and 3.7s. 2018 began with expectations of all the right words to say and all the best relationships and all the best experiences that turned into being let down, letting others down, and being glad to see the year go. 2019 begins with expectations of academic improvement, personal growth, a healthy body that’s taken care of, a mind that’s thankful in the mornings and hopeful in the evenings, becoming more personable and meaningful, and a year of growth closer to the Lord.

             In 2019, I know that my life will be imperfect, and I am pledging to myself to be transparent and honest with myself and those around me in the times that I am let down, confused, and struggling, and setting goals that are achievable and beneficial towards my walk with the Lord.

             I’m praying that the Lord shows me a new perspective that leads me to be more refreshed, more rejuvenated, more peaceful and more joyed, and I’m praying for you, too!

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