Present Over Perfect is an invitation to this journey that changed my life. I’ll walk this path with you, a path away from frantic pushing and proving, and toward your essential self, the one you were created to be before you began proving and earning for your worth.
An excerpt from her book Present Over Perfect…
It’s All Right Here
I had a conversation with a fascinating man on a ferry. He was a friend of a friend, and somehow the circle of conversation we’d both been a part of ended, and it left just the two of us. He told me a story that started with love and creativity and good intentions. He told me about how passionate he was about traveling and speaking, how much he loved spreading the message of his work to people all over the world, and how the heart of it is love: loving people wherever he met them, giving them the best of his energy and his attentiveness. It sounded amazing.
And then he told me the next part of the story, which is that he became so deeply skilled at making people feel loved in an instant, and along the way he lost the ability to demonstrate actual, real love to the woman and the children who were waiting at home. Making someone feel loved in an instant is so much easier than showing someone your love over and over, day in and day out. He had become a master at quick, intense, emotional connection, and with each experience of it, he found himself less able to connect in the daily, trudging, one-after-the-other kinds of ways.
He is alone now, not living with the woman who was his wife, not living with his children. That quick love cost him enduring love, and it wasn’t worth it.
This is a common story, isn’t it? The pastor loves to solve other people’s problems, but doesn’t come home with enough energy in the tank for his family’s everyday problems. The writer becomes addicted to the IV drip of blog comments and likes, while her family longs for her to close the laptop and look them in the eye. It’s easy to be more charming in a sales meeting than at witching hour, and it’s nice to feel competent at something when family life feels difficult at best. By “nice;’ I mean addictive.
So many of us have taken those steps, if we’re honest, because we don’t know how to fix the problems we’ve created, because we never learned the set of skills we needed to navigate such difficult intimacy. We dive into information or work or bicycling or whatever, because it feels good to be good at something, to master something, to control something when marriage and intimacy often feel profoundly out of our control. And so, little by little, we tiptoe away.
Quick charm will always be easier for me than deep connection. People out there are easier than the ones in here. But quick charm is like sugar it rots us. It winds us up and leaves us jonesing, but it doesn’t feed us. Only love feeds us. And love happens over years, repetitive motions, staying, staying, staying. Showing up again. Coming clean again, being seen again. That’s how love is built.
And if you can wean yourself off the drug of quick charm, off the drug of being good at something, losing yourself in something, the drug of work or money or information or marathon training – whatever it is you do to avoid the scary intimacy required for a rich home life – that’s when love can begin. But only then. It’s all in here, not out here.
Making someone feel loved in an instant is so much easier than showing someone your love over and over, day in and day out.
Reprinted with permission. Copyright© 2016, Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. zondervan.com