Thursday, July 10, 2008

Progress Not Perfection

One of the posts that really had an impact on me on Angie's blog - was when she wrote about reading something about grief. How at times, it can be cathartic, to break something when you are experiencing grief. Something about the release it can help people feel. So she decided to try it - and you can read about it on her site...I encourage you to do so, her words are much better at describing it than mine! Anyways - she smashes a water pitcher and then feels as though God is telling her now she needs to spend time, with Him and put it back together. She chronicles her journey and then encourages her readers to, if also struggling with something, to break something and spend time with God putting it back together. And to be open to how He may speak to them as He did to her.

This whole thing intrigued me and I knew that I had to do it. So I went to Walmart to see what I could find. I couldn't find a pitcher - but was able to find this really neat looking vase and brought it home to smash it. I decided to break it in a garbage bag so that I could make sure and find all of the pieces, I was afraid that I would lose a bunch if I didn't do it this way. And so here comes mom on Monday night outside - whole family watching as I hold the bag over my head and drop it onto the sidewalk.

The sound that it made when it hit the ground, although I was prepared for it, made me jump a little but I was excited to go inside and see what I had to work with. As you will see from the pictures - it was broken in quite a few pieces. Again I expected this - but I was not sure once I had poured all of the pieces out that I was up to the task....but I persisted.

I was very excited for my chance to "hear God" and so I set out willingly to the task. I started with my hot glue gun. Very quickly I realized that this was not the medium for me. It was stringing all over the place, making large gaps between the pieces and drying too quickly. After a large and painful burn on my thumb I decided that I was done with the hot glue and moved onto something else.

All the while...patiently waiting for God to speak to me as he had to Angie.....I heard nothing.

I had purchased a couple of other types of glue and decided to try those. After putting a couple of pieces together successfully I found the glue that was just the right tool for this project. Now I was sure that this thing was going to go together no problem now!

Still even more patiently waiting for that still small voice, or something, anything that felt like God's hand in this project. Something was missing....maybe the problem was the sound of my own voice screaming in my head - is it possible I wasn't able to hear God over that noise? :)

Yet I wasn't ready to give up. I spent over an hour and a half that first night working on my vase. I didn't get very far during that time and felt a little frustrated that it wasn't going like I had hoped but I wanted to prove to myself I guess that I could do it, so I decided to give it a fresh look the next day.

Over the next several days I came back to the vase, turning it, seeing it with a new perspective, finding another piece of the "puzzle" that then lead to yet another piece. I would put a few pieces on in the mornings before I would go to work and then spend some time on it when I came home at night. Each day hoping that I would have that inspiration or whatever it was I thought that I needed as a spiritual wasn't happening in the manner that I had thought it should.

On Saturday afternoon of that week I placed the last piece of the vase on and my masterpiece was complete. I was so proud of myself. I just looked at it over and over, running my fingers over the cracks of a vase that now looked a whole lot different than I had expected. It wasn't beautiful in the way it had been when I first brought it home, but now it was interesting in its own way...there was a story there I just wasn't sure what God wanted to tell me that story was.

I am involved in a support group and one of our motto's is "Progress Not Perfection". Basically it reminds us that as we work at being better to ourselves and for others and we are willing to give our trust in a power greater than ourselves - whom I call God - that we make progress. And that is ok - we are not expected to reach perfection - only God can do that.

Regardless of what is in our past we have all experienced grief in some form or another. Whether it is a loss of a person in our lives, or a dream for our kids or ourselves - we grieve in this life here on earth. I realized that my vase symbolized my journey to the feet of God. The beautiful, shiny perfect vase is that picture of perfection that I always have wanted to be, but have never measured up to. Inside I have known that I could never be that person - often because of my own poor choices and I have found myself broken.

When I realized that all of my own efforts had failed me, everything that I had tried on my own had led me to be exactly what I didn't want to be - a broken individual - I was finally ready to let God do for me what I was so unable to do for myself. Put me back together again. It was with my support group and tools from that program, and a willingness to turn my will and my life over to the care of God, that those broken pieces were able to be put back together again.

The end result?? Not exactly what I had imagined for myself. But better perhaps? The cracks in my life have given me a median to connect with people I wouldn't have connected with otherwise. They have helped me to be grateful for all the good things that we do have every day - the little things, even when life gets hard. They have shown me that I can be ok with progress not perfection and thankful for the journey.

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