My mantra for this month and holiday season is present over perfect. If you know me at all, you know I’ve always connected with the lovely, powerful words from Shauna Niequist. She’s my favorite author and sort of like my patron saint – it seems like every time I read something she’s written, it just hits me. Yes, yes, yes. Needed those words and that reminder. Anyway, she often writes about this whole ‘present over perfect’ thing and the power of being being here, right now, over striving for perfection. Today, I wanted to share a few excerpts from some of her books about what present over perfect means and how we can apply it to our lives. For me, this is extra important over the holidays, because it’s definitely a time where it’s easy to get caught up in the buy more! do more! plan more! accomplish more! bake more! whatever else more! cycle.
We threw a little gathering last weekend and before and during, I kept reminding myself – present over perfect. It’s okay that the apartment isn’t perfectly cleaned or the food isn’t perfectly prepared or my outfit isn’t perfectly cute. What matters is being here, with my people, together. And that’s the mantra and mentality I want to take with me throughout the month and holiday season and beyond. Hope these words speak to you and remind you to live presently and intentionally. xo!
“Let’s be courageous in these days. Let’s choose love and rest and grace. Let’s use our minutes and hours to create memories with the people we love instead of dragging them on one more errand or slushing them while we accomplish one more seemingly necessary thing. Let’s honor the story – the silent night, the angels, the miracle child, the simple birth, which each choice that we make.
My prayer is that we’ll find ourselves drawn closer and closer to the heart of the story, the beautiful, beating heart of it all, that the chaos around us and within us with recede, and the most important things will be clear and lovely at every turn. I pray that we’ll understand the transforming power that lies in saying no, because it’s an act of faith, a tangible demonstration of the belief that you are so much more than what you do. I pray that we’ll live with intention, hope, and love in this wild season and in every season, and that the God who loves us will bring new life to our worn-out heart this year and every year, that we’ll live, truly and deeply in the present, instead of waiting, waiting, waiting for perfect.”
~Shauna Niequist, December 25th devotional from Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are
“Present is living with your feet firmly grounded in reality, pale and uncertain as it may seem. Present is choosing to believe that your own life is worth investing deeply in, instead of waiting for some rare miracle of fairy tale. Present means we understand that the here and now is sacred, sacramental, threaded through with divinity even in its plainness. Especially in its plainness.
Present over perfect living is real over image, connecting over comparing, meaning over mania, depth over artifice. Present over perfect living is the risky and revolutionary belief that the world God has created is beautiful and valuable on its own terms and that it doesn’t need to be zhuzzed up and fancy in order to be wonderful.”
~Shauna Niequist, from Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living
“My intention this season is present over perfect. I determined to add nothing to the to-do list. I abandoned well-intentioned but time-consuming projects. And in their place I’m making rest and space priorities, so that what I offer to my family is more that a brittle mask over a wound-up and depleted soul.
Either I can be here, fully here, my imperfect, messy, tired by wholly present self, or I can miss it – this moment, this conversation, this time around the table, whatever it is – because I’m trying, and failing, to be perfect, to keep the house perfect, make the meal perfect, ensure the gift is perfect. But this season, I’m not trying for perfect. I’m just trying to show up, every time, with honesty and attentiveness.
One thing’s for sure: if you decide to be courageous and sane, if you decide not to overspend or overcommit or over-schedule, the healthy people in your life with respect those choices. And the unhealthy people in your life will freak out, because you’re making a healthy choice they’re not currently free to make. Don’t let that for one second stop you.”
~Shauna Niequist, December 17th devotional from Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are