The simple piece of advice that keeps me focused on what matters most
“If we measure our success by how eloquently we speak the language, we’re missing the point. What matters is that we’re here.”
My grandfather spoke those words to my grandmother when they were newly married. They’d just moved to Bolivia to become missionaries and my grandmother was flustered. She worked tirelessly to learn both Spanish and the language of the tribe they worked with. She felt enormous pressure, and it was getting in the way of her ministry, robbing her of the joy she could have been experiencing in sharing her faith with a group of people in desperate need of hope and love. My grandma needed to be reminded about what’s important. She needed to be set free from her own extreme expectations so that she could live fully in the life God called her to live.
I’ve often thought about the advice my grandfather gave to my grandmother. As a parent there’s a lot of pressure that we put on ourselves to get things just right. We work tirelessly and try our hardest not to slip up. We schedule play dates, lessons and practices, cook wholesome dinners, make sure our kids don’t stay up too late and brush their teeth for exactly two minutes. We push ourselves to perfection, and oftentimes we wind up stressed out. The joy of parenting that we could be experiencing is sucked out of us, and we need the same reminder. I know I do.
The truth is, things don’t need to be perfect.
It’s okay to have sandwiches or take-out for dinner. The kids will be fine if we decide to stay in on a Saturday instead of scheduling play dates. Our cars might get dirty, the laundry might not always get done, but I’ve learned that all of those things--those tiny details--are not what matters. Sometimes, in the midst of all the noise and chaos, I need to remember that I’m missing the point. What matters is that I’m here, and giving myself permission to relax allows me, like my grandmother, to become free to embrace what God has set before me. This permission can free you too. If you’re like me and tend to get lost in the details, I hope my grandfather’s words touch your heart as much as they do mine.