Wednesday nights are one of my favorites. I lead a group of men in a Bible study at my church. Before you dip out thinking I’m about to get spiritual, hang in there with me for a moment. My faith is everything to me, but I’m headed somewhere else with this…
As part of our study, we’re each working on building the habit of taking time to read the Bible, meditate on it, and consider its impact in our lives. This daily ritual of creating a quiet time can be very challenging. We’re all busy, each battling distractions and diversions. Too much to do, and not enough time… it’s the human condition.
Each week, I check in with these men on Wednesday nights to see how their quiet times are progressing. Our goal is to have 3-4 times each week, and as a group, we encourage each other and hold one another accountable to that. It’s a big part of the journey we’re on together, but it can also be challenging. Some weeks my men experience 5-6 quiet times, and other weeks they struggle to squeeze in two or one.
On those weeks that have been more challenging, where they only had one quiet time or possibly none, it can feel very defeating. When we come up short on a goal, feeling beaten down or frustrated is common. No one wants to fail. But here’s the question I follow up with when my guys are coming off a stressful week…
“Before you started trying to make quiet times a habit in your life, how many times a week did you spend time meditating on your Bible?”
The answer is routinely the same…
And with that, I remind these guys that they are making progress. One, or two, or three, is greater than zero. They’re gaining ground, even if it feels slow at times.
They’re creating momentum.
Too many times, we measure our success by perfection, and not by the growth and improvement we’re creating. Our definition of achievement is based on crossing the finish line, not the journey to get there. If we set a goal of one hundred and we only reach ninety-nine, we see that as a failure.
The reality is that our chasing perfection can cause us to miss the daily wins and momentum we’re creating. The act of building strength, health, wealth (or anything in life for that matter) requires a high level of determination and resolution. The journey is an imperfect, rocky path with exposed roots. Some days, some weeks, and some months are just easier than others. And sometimes, we stumble.
Why? We’re all imperfect.
Perfection, even for the perfectionists who are reading this, is an impossibility. Native Americans realized this a long time ago and made deliberate imperfection part of their lives. Navajo weavers intentionally leave small imperfections in their rugs and blankets, and some native bead artists do the same thing. Japanese artists refer to this as Wabi Sabi, the Art of Imperfection. It comes with a level of humility, embracing the impermanence of everything, and a reverence for the process of creating something.
At the end of the day, isn’t that what we’re all doing with our lives, creating something? A legacy, a story, an impact… we’re all on a journey going somewhere, making progress along the way. And that’s where the challenge lies. On that journey, as we’re growing and creating momentum, can we enjoy the progress we’re making and stop being burdened by our chase for perfection?
Whatever your ambition, and whatever goal you’re working toward, embrace the progress. Some weeks you will make a little progress, others a lot, and sometimes you’ll stumble backward. It’s part of the journey, so quit beating yourself up. I’m not saying to ditch your pursuit of perfection – feel free chase it and keep your goals front and center. Just make sure to enjoy your progress along the way. One foot in front of the other…