Excellence Over Perfection
I would assert that there isn’t a single person reading this that isn’t going through something difficult, has recently come out of a challenge in their life, or will be enduring an emotionally draining experience soon. Does that about cover everyone?
Sitting in this chair and sipping on some coffee on a chilly Tuesday morning after working over 16 hours yesterday, the fuzz in my brain is offering way to clarity and reflection, so hold onto your butts for this one. This past Saturday, at our town hall meeting for the members, I shared a hard truth about what last year was like and the reality of what it could have been had a knife in one hand pressed deeper into the flesh of my other arm. But, thankfully, that choice wasn’t made to end a hard life and, instead, and thankfully, a redeeming 3 words broke through the somber stillness of that dark night and a new story of strength and recovery began. “It is done.”
For fellow Christians, those three words may sound very familiar. The Greek word, “Tetelestai,” which means “It is finished” is found in John 19:30 when Christ utters it before giving up His spirit on the cross. It represents the truth that the debt of mankind’s sin was paid in full by His sacrifice. That statement offers a profound and powerful sense of hope and promise for our spiritual lives, and a start to a new journey that leads closer to God. In a secular sense, it represents completion and finality, while similarly the beginning of a new chapter, free of whatever encumberance there was before.
On that night, those three words pierced my heart and told me that the weight of the world and the emotional torment I had carried, partly by choice, was to be no more. I was no longer going to live in the lie that I was fine (Feelings Inside Never Expressed), that I was worthless, that I only deserved failure, loss, and pain, or that I could fix it all on my own. I needed help, I needed guidance, and I needed truth to saturate me entirely. I needed my heart to change as, while I saw the value of and loved everybody with whom I interacted, I had taken the entirely opposite approach for myself. I dwelled on my mistakes, wrongdoings, and failings. I hurt people I loved because I was hurting for over two decades. I was in need of emergency surgery and it needed to happen in the deepest part of my being. It is done.
So, over the next few months, I stepped away from the gym, most of my relationships, and, well, the world. I was gifted with the opportunity to attend an intensive support group retreat over a weekend and followed through with several months of regular meetings. I found a professional counselor and invested in the healing process. I journaled and prayed every day (and I still do!), and, little by little, that dark night gave way to light.
While the decision and response were instantaneous, the effort and change was slow and gradual, with bumps and setbacks along the way. But, this gradual climb up the mountain of life is getting better. Just like my experience with CrossFit; it doesn’t get easier, you just get better, and all that is required is relentless commitment to showing up everyday with concerted dedication. Where once I prided myself on being driven, I now humbly admit that I am devoted. Before, I sought perfection, ultimately an impossible endeavor, and now I seek and find joy in pursuing excellence. Let me tell you, it is a kind of freedom I haven’t known since I was a child.
I choose not to carry the baggage of self-doubt, self-hatred, grief, rage, pain, loss, failure, regret, and fear (of being found out as who I really was) any longer. Sound like anything you’re carrying in your heart? I also choose not to listen to any voice, my own or that of others, that attempts to tear me down, question my value, or put me in a box. I’m here for a reason and so are you. We live in a culture where the negative is promoted and propagated far more than the positive and we wonder why we’re stressed, exhausted, angry, broke, and depressed. You can’t control other people or really much of anything (your job, your lot in life, your environment), but you can control how you choose to respond and think. There are many ways to medicate and I won’t cast any judgment on anybody’s choice; but I’ll offer the assertion that seeking help and pursuing a relationship with the one who made me has been the best remedy for me. I’m not done yet, and I likely never will be, but I’m getting better. I hope the same for you, whether you’re just getting out of the mud, currently drowning in it, or you’re about to be.
So, who’s with me? Who chooses to pursue excellence and love the heck out of themselves in the process?
If you’re interested in learning more about the support group and retreat, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org