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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's a Wonderful(Imperfect) Life!!

I was honored to receive an invite from book author Joan C. Webb to promote her book on my blog on her blog tour. I received a beautiful autographed copy of her book in the mail for being chosen for this!! I was so excited to start reading it!! It's filled with devotions for everyday use for the Christian woman!! For Christian woman who strive to hard to make it just right!! She points out that Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful!! Here's a selection devotion from her book.

Jeremiah 31:3: I have loved you with an everlasting love.

While recovering from burnout I enjoyed a few days away. Eating breakfast alone, I listened to some background music. To the strumming of a peaceful guitar, a soloist sang, “God is in love with his people. God is in love with me”.

Tears filled my eyes and splashed on my cheeks. For a woman who doesn’t cry much this surprised me. "What a liberating idea, Lord.” I smile now remembering this moment when my soul—empty for so long—filled with fresh hope. I also recall my next thought which threatened that contentment: "But is this true that you’re in love with me, Lord?"

When I returned to my room, I searched my Bible and concordance for affirmation. Then I read, "The Lord appeared . . . saying, 'I have loved you with an everlasting love.’ “ (Jeremiah 31:3)

"It is true," I whispered. “God is in love with me.” That day I wrote in my journal, Lord, I'm amazed that I needn’t perform to draw you near. Neither must I strive to win your approval. You smile at me as a lover who is completely enamored with his mate. My heart catches a moment of pure joy as I contemplate this truth—for time and eternity, I am loved by you.

Lord, help me continue to believe

That You’re in love with me even when my

mind and emotions insist otherwise.

Make It Personal: You might write this verse, Jeremiah 31:3, on a small card and put it on your desk or car visor to remind you daily of God's constant love.

Blog Tour Q&A with Joan
Q: Why did you write It’s A Wonderful (Imperfect) Life? Does this topic hit close to home for you? A: I remember the day I sat in my office, surrounded by the ever-present piles of papers and files. When the phone rang and the caller asked for the name, address, and purpose of our company, I blanked-out. Completely. Don’t know how I ended that call. But I did decide I needed help. I soon discovered that I was severely burned out. When I dug past the burnout, I discovered a defective pattern of misconceptions. I believed I must make all things right for everyone who crossed my whirlwind path. I thought I must appear perfect for others to be attracted to my God. I believed it was my duty to see that my husband was always happy, healthy and satisfied with life. I had lost the “me” God created. After a long recovery, God and I decided to use my story/experiences to help others avoid the pain of burnout, over-working, perfectionism and people-pleasing. God offers me “relief” in the midst of imperfection and I wanted to share it with others.

Q: What happens when a woman tries “too hard to make it all just right?”
A: She adheres to the misconception that people/relationships, including families and friends, as well as events, work, circumstances and projects have the ability to be perfect/flawless (or “just right.”) And when she believes this mis-truth (on any level) then life, others and herself become a continual disappointment. Major bummer.

Q: How can a God-loving woman tell if she’s trying-too-hard?
A: Here’s a clue that she’s headed down the over-trying/over-working/over-helping path to exhaustion: Her self-talk sounds like “I must. . .” or “I should. . .” or “I have to. . . .” For instance: My husband must agree with me and I with him, if we really love one another.” “I should host the neighborhood Bible Study this fall.” “I have to weigh the same thing I did when I entered college.” “My kids must make the honor roll every time.”

Q: You mention in the book that perfectionism is not merely lining up canned goods in
alphabetical order or endlessly editing a report. What is perfectionism? A: The dictionary indicates that “perfectionism” (or striving too hard to make it all just right) is “the theory that moral, religious, or social perfection can be attained by mortals.” Yikes! Actually, perfectionism (I realize you might not relish being associated with that word—I don’t, either!) is subtler than refusing to leave the house with one hair out of place or the bed not made. It’s about unrealistic expectations—how we belittle ourselves and others for having human (we translate that as weak) thoughts and emotions, inconsistent faith, or ordinary accomplishments, families, bodies or choices.

Q: What’s the difference between perfectionism and excellence? A: Trying too hard to make it all—or at least someone or something—just right (perfectionism) is a relentless mental chase for flawlessness. It’s not only impossible, but it works against you and ironically often leads to procrastination. Yet, partnering with God for excellence is enjoying quality in balance which is possible. It’s also doable and reasonable and motivates you to action.

Q: What about Jesus’ words to “Be perfect”? If we can’t be perfectly right or flawless, what does He mean?
A: I wondered about that, so I did some checking into the original word meaning. The word “perfect” that Jesus mentioned means “to be complete, full-grown, developing.” I think Jesus urges us to grow past our stagnant religiosity and emotional status quo and be mature women. It’s an issue of the heart—not just about appearing spiritually correct. We develop as a result of our deepening relationship with God.

Q: What are some things that may push a caring Christian woman to “try too hard to make it all just right?”
A: Sometimes we over-try in order to avoid others’ negative opinions and disapproval. Or we expect to be the BEST employee, friend, wife, mother, Christian, __________ (fill in the blank) in comparison to everyone else—which is unrealistic. Maybe we have a deep fear of “doing it wrong.” We may have been conditioned to think this way. Yet we can change as we begin to take responsibility of our own growth before a loving God, instead of letting others’ ideas dominate our lives.

Q: How does “trying too hard to make it all just right” impact our churches and ministries?
A: When we over-try, over-help, over-care, and over-do in our churches/ministries we cause imbalance. Some people end up doing less, because they feel inadequate and shamed. Others over-work and get bone-tired. Then God’s people (on either side of the spectrum) can experience burnout. The following definition of burnout helps us understand: “Burnout is the type of stress and emotional fatigue, frustration, and exhaustion that occurs when a series of (or combination of) events in a relationship, mission, way of life or job fail to produce an expected result.” (Myron Rush, Burnout)

Q: What are some benefits of acknowledging and accepting our human imperfection and limits?
A: We have the privilege of becoming the person God designed us to be, instead of trying to be someone else. It fits us. We relax, find relief and become more productive. Instead of being afraid of doing something wrong when we work on a project and being satisfied only at victory (or the finished product) we can enjoy the process and divide projects/growth into increments and stop to rest in between. We can release the hyper-vigilance and enjoy our many options instead of being stuck in “all or nothing” thinking.

Q: How does relaxing our unrealistic expectations help us love and enjoy ourselves, others and God more? A: It’s interesting that short-term “trying too hard to make it all just right” can satisfy others as well as ourselves. Long-term this maxed-out lifestyle not only wears us out, but frustrates others and distances us from those we care about. When we partner with God for excellence and let God be the Master Provider, Protector and Persuader, we create a safe environment for growth—in ourselves and others. When we cease stepping into God’s territory of perfection, we are free to know Him more intimately. It’s not our job to make it all “just right.” And that brings incredible relief. Actually relaxes the shoulders!

Q: Many of my readers are moms. If you could go back and give your young-mom-self one piece of advice, what would it be?
A: Hmmm. When I remember the “zombie” days of babies, toddlers and endless activities, I think I’d say: ask for the help you need and release yourself from doing it all, even if someone else pushes you. Okay, one more thing: your kids don’t have to be perfect. What is perfect, anyway? Each one has a unique personality with different needs, desires and talents. Allow yourself, your mate and your child to make mistakes. Yet, without a doubt, the single most important and loving thing you can do for your children is to deal with your own past pain and current problems, and grow yourself spiritually and emotionally. Of course, this includes growing your relationship with Jesus.

Q: How did your husband and children handle your transition away from perfectionism? I imagine the whole family has to embrace the idea that their mom/wife is not perfect.
A: Well, since I changed our entire family system, it was difficult—a messy process. At first I had to step out of my comfort zone and share my needs, hurts, desires, and boundaries. I had to say (and then follow it up with action) that I would no longer be a doormat. For I was giving up my life in order to make life easy for them. In the meantime, I missed becoming who God wanted me to be and doing what He wanted me to do. So in order to be God’s woman, I had to admit I wasn’t perfect and couldn’t do it all. It took a while for my husband and me to adjust to the new life. But it was one of the best things we did for our children. Later, my daughter told me that my courage in dealing with this gave her permission to deal with her anorexia. After watching me change, she knew it would not be impossible to change herself.

Q: How do you suggest we use It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life in our daily routine?
A: It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life offers 163 one-page devotions for competent, caring women who long to relax and celebrate life—imperfect though it may be. They are busy women, yet they want daily reminders that it is possible to cease “trying too hard to make it all just right.” They want to know that they’ll still be valuable people and that it will be okay with God if they slow down and relax their expectations. Each page includes a story, anecdote, prayer and follow-up Life Coaching question. So I’d suggest that a new mom put the book by her rocking chair to read one devotion at a time as she nurses or holds her baby. Another woman might keep the book with her Bible and read one story a day. Another might keep the devotion book in the bathroom and read one every once in a while when she gets some private time. Another could tuck it into her briefcase and skim a devotion during lunch hour. Two women might make a pact to read a devotion a week and then discuss it together on the phone on in an email. Just have fun with them and chuckle at her new journey.

Q: You wrote the devotional as a follow-up to The Relief of Imperfection. Can you tell us a little about that book, too?
A: The truth is: People, circumstances, and projects do not have the capacity to be constantly flawless here on earth. Only God is perfect. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. And neither do our families, work, service, bodies, faith, churches and dreams. Isn’t that a relief?

I highly recommend this book to women trying to be perfect!! It's a wonderful book and your may purchase it here!

Joan's Website


Aliene said...

Sounds like a good book to read.
I use to strive to be perfect but found out that an unmade bed(like mine is right now) is not the worse thing in the world. It took me awhile to get my priorites in order.
Thanks for stopping by and visiting me. It is encouraging when others stop by.

Joan C. Webb said...

Hi Jennifer,

Thank you again for hosting the 7th stop on my "Wonderful (Imperfect) Life BLOG TOUR. Fun to read the Q and A on your blog, too.

Have a relief-producing week,