Not Perfect, but Really Good

We fast and pray on Mondays for a) men to lead, b) women to soften and c) God-honoring marriages for those who desire them.

I recently went on a weekend trip to Jamaica with a dear friend to enjoy the sun and the sand.   We called it a “friendmoon” because neither of us, it appears, is taking a honeymoon anytime soon.  Not having a wedding is no reason to miss the beauty of the Caribbean in the dead of winter, we thought.

Unfortunately, our “resort” ended up being more like a cheap hostel near some water.  “All inclusive” didn’t include wine or bottled water.  There was peacock poo in the hallway.  The buffet was sketchy.  Our first hours at the resort made us seriously question why we had ever spent money on the trip.

As the trip wore on, we realized if we didn’t consciously adjust our attitudes, it was going to be miserable.  So we started writing down all the ridiculous things that happened to us, and my friend coined a helpful motto: “Not perfect, but really good.”  She felt God wanted to teach her heart on this subject – that nothing will ever be perfect on this side of eternity, but don’t miss the really good things He is doing in our lives right now.  And so as the two of us tried to tan on the cold and windy beach (unsuccessful)…or as we ate a lovely lobster dinner with an absurdly loud dance remix of “Call Me Maybe” throbbing in the background, we just looked at each other, laughed and said, “Not perfect, but really good.”

Isn’t this so much of life?  We look at our interminable list of summer weddings or play with our friends’ beautiful children or flip past another ridiculous online dating profile or endure the ever-empty spot in bed next to us and think, “Seriously?  This is definitely not perfect.”

But what if we can look at those painful places where our present reality and our expectations diverged and still say, “Not perfect, but really good.”  What if we could let go of how we thought it was supposed to go just long enough to see and hear that God is still at work?  What if our underlying hope was so deeply anchored in God’s character and love that we could stay calm when life unfolds in the most unexpected ways?

So, yes, I thought that getting married somewhere between 24 and 27 would be perfect.  Ideally also before my younger brothers.  I thought dating should be intuitive and easy.  I thought that I should not be the last girl from my college friends to get married.  I’m 29, two of my three younger brothers are getting married this summer, I’m a case study in “how to date badly,” and one of my last single college girlfriends is getting married in May.

Certainly not perfect, but really good.  All of those marriages are for people on my Monday prayer list.  My future sisters-in-law are amazing, godly gals.  I’m grateful for what the Lord has taught me about Him over the past few years, including sometimes through (or despite) my dating disasters.  I’m grateful for the wonderful encouragement of the fast.pray community and other writers.  I’m humbled by God’s persistent faithfulness and grace.  Those are really good things.

So, this week, wherever your chasms are between reality and your expectations, I pray that God would anchor our underlying hope in Him, and then when life’s details take a bizarre turn, be able to say “Not perfect, but really good.”

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. [Romans 5:1-5]

By His Grace,

Amy

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12 Responses to Not Perfect, but Really Good

  1. amy says:

    right back at you!

  2. Lauren says:

    This was fantastic Amy and so encouraging! Not perfect but really good is my new motto! If we stop looking for perfect and seek God in the mess of life we will truly be content!

    Also congratulations Andrea on your engagement! I especially loved your comment “when God showed me my worth to Him, it changed my emotional chemistry, and I began to love being me…then a man could freely love me too, knowing that men can make good husbands but terrible gods.” What a powerful statement once we know who we are in Christ, we don’t need anyone or anything to complete us! Praying that your marriage is a beautiful ministry and testament to God’s love.

    Blessings to everyone,

    Lauren

    • andrea csia says:

      Thank you so much Lauren for your blessings, and for choosing to be a woman who is making God’s world a better, more loving place 🙂 Blessings and favor of the Lord on you as well in every area of your life!

    • amy says:

      lauren – glad it was encouraging…seeking God in the mess is an accurate description!

  3. andrea csia says:

    I have so loved being part of this community! Such maturity in Christ and such genuine encouragement! After taking a year off to stop dating altogether and learn to be just me and Jesus, the Lord brought Barry into my life on Christian Mingle (through a VERY careful and very specific, focused search, i.e. the words “marriage, missions” and Ohio appearing in the profile and saying “no” to everyone else) , we entered into a courtship and are now engaged. I also went through seasons when friends were getting engaged and how difficult that was at times, yet it is also hopeful, which is why I share this. Please keep praying, don’t ever settle. I think when God showed me my worth to Him, it changed my emotional chemistry, and I began to love being me…then a man could freely love me too, knowing that men can make good husbands but terrible gods. I bless you all with favor of the Lord, peace and deep contentment. What a gift.

    • amy says:

      THIS IS SO GREAT! Andrea – congrats to you and Barry. And celebrating with you that God answers prayers in His own timing and that HIs ways are so much higher and richer and fuller than we would have chosen for ourselves. So so happy for you in this season of our answered prayers becoming reality!

  4. Becca says:

    Amen! The thing is, even a marriage that is clearly from God won’t be perfect. If we are always looking for perfection, we miss out on so much of the joy life offers us. Do I wish I was married (or at least in a relationship)? Absolutely! But I’m also extremely thankful for the freedom my singleness has given me to pursue my dreams and passions unhindered. So many of my post-college adventures and friendships wouldn’t have been possible had my ex fiancé and I gone through with the wedding. And our marriage would have been FAR from perfect!

    • amy says:

      so glad you are able to articulate that — and glad you are free to celebrate the tension of longing with the reality of celebrating today 🙂

  5. Katy says:

    Thank you. I needed to read this. Although I am engaged to a wonderful man, I am getting married at 29 and I wanted to start marriage and babies several years ago, prefereably before my younger sister. I have had to mourn the fact that life turned out differently and then put it behind me and choose to be grateful for all that is so so good. A great man after years of praying.

    I don’t mean to state that to sound insensitive, as I know many many godly women are still praying for men (and I am praying with you!!) What I do mean to say is that those who get married older (as most girls using this site and praying on mondays will) often still feel that they lost something because their view of perfection didn’t happen. But like you say, we have to look at life and say its not perfect but really good.

    …or as I often say about not perfect situations “Not ideal, but not tragic”

    I suppose this is true of all struggles. A job — finally, but still a sting that it took so long. A great career, but still wishing you got into grad school. A baby, but you wished you hadnt struggled to get pregnant for so long. Or two kids but you wish you had time to have three or four!

    Even after being blessed with what you want — and during the waiting period beforehand, it is a challenge to focus on the good good things God gives along the way. Thank you soooo much.

  6. Jeannie says:

    Love this new motto!! I need it, because it’s so easy to miss all the really good if there’s only 1 perfect in my mind. Thanks!

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