To the Person (and Leader) I Wish I Was

person

This is a guest post by my executive assistant, Sarah Piercy, who in addition to working with me for the last 9 years, is a wife and young mom. She wrote this piece for her own blog, and, well, it was too compelling not to share it with you here. 

I think we’ve all been there as people and leaders, and for the record, I think Sarah’s great. 🙂 Here’s her post: 

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There is this version of leader and spouse and parent and leader that I wish I was.

And then there is this version that I am.

How about you?

Sometimes the person I wish I was stares through the mirror at the person I am.  They don’t scorn me, and I don’t resent them. We make eye contact across strange planes of existence, but we never really meet.

We’re not in opposition to one other, we’re not enemies or competitors… we’re not even really aware of one another most of the time.

Most of the time, I really like the person I wish I was. I aspire to be more like them. They motivate me.  Encourage me. Show me what could be.

But the person I wish I was doesn’t live in reality. And therein lies the problem.

Am I getting too ethereal here?

Put simply, there are things that I wish were true about me that just… aren’t.

Not yet, at least.

Sometimes I am discouraged that I’m so unlike that person I wish I was, and sometimes I’m excited and inspired by the possibilities waiting for me!

(a lot of that probably depends on how well I slept last night – ha!)

Who do you wish you were? What is your relationship with that version of yourself that looks through the mirror at you?

Who is this person I wish I was?

*warning – this list is ridiculous.*

They are kind and generous at all times.

They love the people in their life without limits – as Christ loves them.

They’re constantly learning about any and every subject that interests them, benefits their family, or enriches their life.

They spend time in Scripture and prayer so the life they live is fuelled by an eternal source of wisdom, love and hope – Jesus Christ.

Words of wisdom are on the tip of their tongue when having meaningful conversations with family, friends and their team.

They work hard and with excellence at whatever they put their mind to.

There’s always healthy food on the table and mealtime is always strong relationship time.

They create a home that is a safe, welcoming place for family and friends at all times.

Their work is well organized, well-thought through and extremely effective.

They never fret about hours in the day, the to-do list always manages to finish itself.

They have meaningful one-on-one time with their children and spouse on a weekly basis.

And they have all the time in the world for child’s play.

After writing that, I literally laughed out loud.  That person is perfect. That person doesn’t exist.

Somedays, 2 or 3 of those things might be true.  On really good days, 3 or 4 of those things might be true.

But let’s be honest, the reality is, somewhere between what’s real and what’s wished for, I see that person I wish I was and I know we’ll never really meet. Not in this life, anyway.

Until then – what do we do with that version of ourselves that we wish we were?

Begin with grace.

Writing this post comes on the heels of my most recent counseling appointment. (I’m a huge fan of counseling, here’s why. Finding a good counselor can be a life-changer.)

What was the appointment about?  Turns out my most recent struggles have been rooted in perfectionism.  My personal expectations of myself.

Oops.

That probably has something to do with where The Person I Wish I Was comes from.

Unchecked perfectionism has negative impacts on daily life. It creates tension and frustration that wouldn’t exist otherwise.

Finding our worth in what we perfect and accomplish is even worse.

You might not be a perfectionist.  Or maybe you are.  But the person you wish you were does come from somewhere. Do you know where?

Your life and my life is not about how much we achieve, the value of our living room furniture, or how clean our floors are.  It’s not even about how well our kids behave in public or how much we can give of our time and money.

We aren’t perfect and we don’t have to be perfect.

In fact, we are inescapably imperfect.

It’s really a beautiful thing that the human heart longs for perfection… not necessarily shallow surface-level perfection, but life-giving, whole-making, soul-quenching perfection.

I think that’s a reflection of our Perfecter’s fingerprints on us.  We need Him. We long for Him.

But since we aren’t God, we aren’t the Perfecter.

And our Perfecter gives us grace.  Undeserved kindness.  Because He knows we need it.  (2 Corinthians 12:8-9, Ephesians 2: 8-9)

So What Do We Do?

  1. Surrender and turn.

    Am I to quit trying to be a good spouse, friend and parent?  No.

    But I need to recognize who I am, and who I’m not.

    I am not God.

    I am a person. Created and loved by God, but not God.

    My value is not in what I perfect, but in who I belong to – God. And I need Him.

    You do too, right?

    Take a minute to confess that to God.  Yes, right now.

  2. Renew my mind.

    I need to renew the way I think.

    We develop thinking patterns that become second nature and sometimes those patterns lead us down dark paths.

    Do I want to be angry when I’m cleaning up dishes after a full day of juggling work, meals, and a toddler when the milk jug slips off the edge of the counter and empties into a white puddle on the floor?

    Absolutely not.

    But my natural, knee-jerk reaction happens. My subconscious thinking triggers an emotional “ugh – you should’ve seen that coming!  How could you let that happen?!

    Reality: I can’t see every accident that’s coming.  I’m not a failure when something doesn’t go right.

    Renewing my mind is a process.

    And it’s a process for each of us.  Your thinking patterns might be different from mine, and the ways you need to renew your mind might be different than mine.

    This isn’t a diagnosis, but an encouragement.  You are valuable.  You are worth renewing.

    If that’s something you want too, see a counselor you trust to help you get to the root of your challenges.

    And if you want it, this month I am reflecting on these verses.  If you’d like them, save them for yourself, too!  They’re the right size for your phone’s wallpaper.

So, does this mean I need to stop trying to be the best person I can be? No.

But the fact is that today – I am not the person I wish I was.

And that’s ok!

What about you? What’s your relationship with the version of yourself you wish you were?

12 Comments

  1. Chuck on February 8, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    At the risk of being the one to call a spade a spade here (so far), here goes.
    Sarah’s post here is awesome, as you point out, Carey. And it’s right on point.
    But I wonder if it unintentionally glosses over the “dark side” of this issue: SIN. I say “glosses over” because, yes, it’s there, she duly points out that we are impossibly imperfect (and that’s true. Romans 3:23, I John 1:8-10). But unfortunately I think it’s “uglier” than just being imperfect. It’s more “real” than just blowing it by being too hard on yourself. Let’s not turn struggle with sin into something less than what it is–a battle to be “perfect”. To even dream of being perfect (as Sarah elocutes beautifully and graciously) is impossible. Today’s society aspires perfection and fully believes that it’s capable of reaching it. News, folks…without Jesus, no, ain’t happenin’. (Isaiah 64:6, I John 1:10, and others). That level of perfection we aspire to attain on our own is not possible because of that dark stuff, SIN.

    I wish we all could just call it what it is, and realize we are all (especially me) guilty of it.

    Good job, Sarah!

    I think that we as Christians are, in this day/age/worldview are expecting perfection from ourselves and others, as Sarah says, but I further believe that this same mindset declines, blows off, even begins to deny the reality of sin in our lives. Christ forgave that sin, and those who have accepted Him have that grace Sarah says to begin with. (Major Philip Yancey fan here, so don’t get me REALLY started…). But let’s remember that we indeed do battle with principalities and powers (Sin, Satan) way beyond those of just not feeling great about ourselves. Cheers to Sarah for calling this out!

    • John Moreland on February 8, 2018 at 6:21 pm

      Chuck:

      I appreciate your thinking and in fact, I used to think a lot like what you appear to be saying in this post, if I understand it as you intend it. I’d challenge your thinking a bit, if you’d allow me to.

      Can you point to Scriptures that tell us our job is to focus on, remember, try to rid ourselves of, etc., sin? On the other hand, I can point to numerous that remind us of our new life in Christ, that we have been perfected in Christ, and of course, that we have no condemnation in Christ.

      I don’t write this to try and “call you out” or anything to that effect. I write them because i know all to well how frustrated my life was when all I did was focus on my sin, how ad I was, and how big the struggle is. While all of that is true, the call of the Christian isn’t to fix sin, it’s to surrender to the power of Christ.

      God bless my brother.

      • Chuck on February 9, 2018 at 1:47 pm

        John,

        Thanks for your input! My point in this response wasn’t specifically that we should strive to cleanse ourselves of sin, but more that we should avoid candy-coating, disguising, or “softening” it with more “friendly” terms. Otherwise we’d be just like any other self-help movement.

        But, since you ask…

        Paul charges regularly that we should:
        Not conform to this world, but renew our minds in Christ (see Romans 12:1-2)
        Put off the old self with its deceitful desires (see Eph 4:17-32)
        Not gratify the flesh with acts of sinful nature (see Galatians 5, all of it)
        Put to death the earthly nature… (Colossians 3, all of it)

        I can go on, sir. My point is certainly NOT to render ourselves devoid of sin (on our own, by our own efforts, etc.) as that is a spiritual impossibility due to our fallen nature, as I pointed out before. However, as we have the Holy Spirit’s help, we are charged with setting our minds on things above (again Col. 3:2), not on worldly things….this is I believe part of what you are getting at, rightfully so. See also Galatians 5:22-26, James 1 and 2, and numerous other places that totally defend what YOU are saying.

        I truly recognize that you and I are talking about two sides of the same coin; we are not in disagreement, I think. While we should not FOCUS on sin, we shouldn’t DENY it either. (As I alluded to, I think this is where many secular self-help philosophies totally miss the boat, as they deny the existence and power of sin. We are indeed charged NOT to do this.)

        More than willing to continue this discussion. If interested let me know and I’ll be overjoyed to take this privately.

        Thanks for the feedback!

  2. Frank Bishoff on February 8, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    Good stuff…thanks for sharing this! Really hit home!!

  3. Gary on February 8, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    Wow, this was so good! Thank You for sharing!

  4. gloria on February 8, 2018 at 11:32 am

    Thank you Sarah. In my “Dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s in ministry-leaves me a miserable wreck. There are times I dread when I am unable to reach everyone on “MY LIST” with the Gospel on any given day. ( “But
    What if they died TONIGHT!!!???”) I must be led by the Holy Spirit of God when sharing Christ (this I know) but still miss the boat too often. He’s God-and I AM NOT , hit home with me. Thank you.
    I will use what I have.
    I will do what I can.
    I will refuse to be worn down by “what if”
    Tomorow is another day.

  5. Andrea Riggs on February 8, 2018 at 9:47 am

    Perfect timing! Thank you!❤

    • Eric Patton on February 8, 2018 at 10:41 am

      Great stuff, I love this, it was right on time!

  6. Brian Cunnington on February 8, 2018 at 8:37 am

    Sarah has given voice to the struggle that we all face living with the tension of the ‘real self’, the ‘rejected self,’ and the ‘idealized self’. By putting words to that often confusing confusing experience, Sarah comes alongside as a wise and empathetic companion ‘on the way’. Thank you Sarah.

  7. Troy Bates on February 8, 2018 at 8:16 am

    “I’m not a failure when something doesn’t go right”. There is great freedom in applying this to so many parts of my life. Thank you!
    Troy

  8. Don Holt on February 8, 2018 at 7:10 am

    Carey:

    Your blog and podcast are two of the key resources the Holy Spirit uses to form me as a retired guy working at walking with God daily… so Thank You!

    Sarah’s post meets one of my deepest needs as I reflect on how to enter into 2018 Lent to better understand who I am today and the specific “next steps” God is calling me to.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 8, 2018 at 7:21 am

      Love this Don. Thank you!

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