This was written before the onset of a pandemic. To be clear, I do not subscribe to the idea that this time at home should be ridiculously productive—we’re a world in grief and struggling for normalcy. That said, I do still hold the following true. Just please don’t overapply where it was not meant to be so.
I’ve been reacquainting myself with Scripture Typer, trying to get the “Verses to Review” back down to zero instead of such an intense red number. I’m learning to memorize a little bit constantly instead of a lot a bit rarely.
In review, I came across a verse I haven’t read in months but still remember the thrill of “eesh, true” when I read it the first time:
“He who observes the wind will not sow, And he who regards the clouds will not reap.” Ecclesiastes 11:4, NKJV
Gotta love Solomon. He can say three pages worth in one breath.
Another translation renders it, “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” Ibid, NLT
Said another way, people who wait for perfect circumstances in order to do their work, will never work at all. You and I might not be farmers, but how often do we delay in a goal, using the excuse of waiting for an elusive perfect set of circumstances..?
I think there are three main reasons that we wait on that perfect weather that so rarely befalls us —
- We’re scared of failing
- We’re scared what people will think of us
- We don’t want to put in the work
I’m still on the path of recovery for perfectionism, and I still struggle with wielding it as a “perfect” justification for procrastination: I’m not starting because I’m not ready. Truth be told, I’m actually just scared of not getting it right. I recently took my first programming exam, complete with 23 snippets of code and the task to describe each line and word with precision and clarity. I passed with flying colors: 112/115. But those missing three points still bothered me—as if getting slightly less than perfect means I’m not good enough. I should’ve waited another week to attempt, right…?
My husband records insightful reflections and puts them on Instagram. When he started, and even sometimes still, he lamented that they weren’t perfect: the video quality, his flow of thoughts, his hand gestures and tone of voice. He had an image of what was perfect, but his product fell short of that.
It can be disheartening when we don’t meet the standard. But sometimes we don’t even try—we just assume that we won’t get there. I assumed that I wouldn’t pass the test at all — surprise, surprise, I got an A+. My husband could have assumed that his efforts weren’t good enough to achieve his goal of helping others — lo, and behold, many people reached out to say how blessed and encouraged they were by his words! What if we both had stopped or hadn’t even tried because of fear of failure?
What about when we actually miss the goal, though? What about when we do fail?
Failure is simply missing the mark. But it’s a ‘Not yet’ instead of a forever-condemnation. When we internalize not hitting a standard, we start to think that we are failures—when actually, we simply haven’t achieved a goal. Yet. That’s it.
If you’re pushing off a project or a conviction or a conversation or a step outside the comfort zone, ask yourself: If I wasn’t afraid of failure, would I attempt to do this?
The funny thing about people’s opinions is that we assume a lot more than we know.
See how she looked at me? I bet she’s mad at me.
He didn’t like my report. That’s why he hasn’t responded yet.
They probably think I’m an idiot. That’s why they’re laughing.
All three of these examples contain zero proof that the perception of opinion is true, and yet we make tell ourselves these made-up stories all day long.
But just for our example, let’s assume the worst. She is mad at you. He didn’t like your report. They do think you’re an idiot.
But like…so what?
Does that make it true?
The reality is that we can never please everyone. Some people think Apple products are from God, others think they’re from the devil. Some people think Seth Godin is an amazing writer, others think he’s crazy and out of touch. Some people think having a Tesla is the ultimate status symbol, others think they’re a waste of money. But do any three of these companies/people stop doing what they’re doing because people don’t like them? No. They keep writing, inventing, producing.
It’s an unfortunate reality that there will always be someone who doesn’t like the direction of your life, your choices, or just…you. But hey—even Jesus was not liked by everyone when He walked this earth. Are we to fare any better than He?
It’s good to take counsel, good to get feedback, and good to have a community. But don’t distort that into only taking steps that the majority approve, that make you instantly popular, or that will for sure make you liked.
Don’t Want to Work
It’s really hard to write a book. It’s also hard to invent something, start a company, grow a relationship, maintain a garden, and switch into a successful career. These things are verifiably difficult.
Sometimes we don’t attempt what we’re called to do because it’s going to take so much time and effort.
Until post-high-school, I pretty much stuck to activities that I was naturally good at. I think it was a mixture of pride and laziness: pride because who likes to look like a novice at anything? And laziness because, well, why grapple with higher level math for months when you can just churn out a fantastic essay in less than two hours?
We sometimes say, “Oh the time isn’t right…” because something about the circumstances may actually make things difficult. Difficulty, noted. But most things worth achieving take work no matter what…!
The time is going to pass whether we fill it productively or not, so time remains unaltered. As for effort, we truly become better with effort. What at first seems nigh impossible, with effort and repetition, can become as easy as what comes naturally to us. Don’t worry about doing it all right now, today. Instead, start. Do one piece. One step. And then another.
Take a look at your goal, your project, your pursuit. Are you avoiding it or making excuses just because it’s going to take time and effort to achieve it?
There’s rarely a perfect set of circumstances to do anything—but there are countless opportunities to start. Don’t let winds of distraction or the clouds of hardship distract you. Instead, in the words of my beloved mentor: Go. Do. Succeed.