Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 10 comments

My sisters and I came into the world just as color photos were becoming popular. As a result, our earliest pictures were in black and white while the later ones were in color.  Having seen "The Wizard of Oz," my young nephew assumed that all the photos realistically portrayed the world as it was, and one day asked his mom what it was like back when the world was black and white! 


The truth is we did grow up in a very black and white world, though it was figuratively rather than literally.  Both at home and in church the message we received was the same: it's either perfect or a failure; there was nothing in between.  
Believe me, this is not an easy life to live.  Obviously, nothing I did was perfect, which to me translated into "nothing you do is good enough, so that means you're not good enough."  

I've been battling against perfectionism for many years now, but it's just been recently that God has been opening my eyes to see just how pervasive this has been in my life.  

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Devil's Tower, 1998
I definitely feel I have a lot to boast about when it comes to weakness.  As a young believer in 1997, I invited God to do whatever it took to get my attention.  Little did I know how difficult my attention was to get!  I had excruciating pain in my hip and could barely walk for the better part of a year.  Fast-forward fifteen years: by God's grace and a lot of hard work I am able to walk and have less pain, but it is still my constant companion.  

I mention this because one of the manifestations of my perfectionism was that I wouldn't even attempt anything if I wasn't confident I would be successful at it.  The way I saw it, I couldn't fail if I didn't even try.  Of course, this also meant I could be missing out on a lot.  

A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to climb a rock wall at a retreat I was speaking at.  The old me would not have attempted this, not only because I'd never tried it before but also because I wasn't sure if my hip would be up to the challenge. To top it off, I'd be doing it in front of a group of observers.  In my book, the only thing worse than failing would be failing publicly.  

The new me, however, decided to take advantage of the opportunity to try something new.  Even though I felt there was a good chance of public failure (especially after watching the six-year-old in front of me scamper up a more difficult wall), at least I could say I tried.  And I'm beginning to understand that in some cases effort is more important than success.

After all this expectation of humility, imagine my surprise when I reached the top of the wall and rang that bell.  My moment of success, however, was not in the last step but in the first - trying something with no guarantee I'd be good at it.
Gull Lake, 2013
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 3:12-14

Lord, I thank you for loving me enough to continue to reveal areas in my life that need work.  Without this gentle nudge I never would have attempted something new and experienced the success of the attempt.  Please help me continue to walk in humble obedience to You.


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