Practicing Progress, Not Perfection

I am a recovered drug addict. For about 5 years of my life, I went from an occasional glass of wine to full on IV drug use on the street. I literally lived to use and I am surprised that my life did not end in that 5 year period. Although I won’t say that I am proud of what I did, I can say that I learned so many valuable life lessons as a result of it.

While working a 12 step recovery program, I was introduced to a concept that changed the way I saw myself and my life. I had messed everything up so bad, I had hurt the ones I loved, I had sinned and sinned and sinned some more, I was certain that God wanted nothing to do with me . I had given myself labels like loser, addict, junkie, felon, and some others that I won’t even repeat because they are that demeaning. How could I ever be anything besides the wreckage that I had created?

My sponsor told me to “Practice progress, not perfection”. She said that “I was measuring who I was by how I had acted for a small portion of my life, and then projecting that onto my perception of God.”  The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says:

“No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles; we are not saints. The point is we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.”  AA Big Book (4th Ed), p 60.

Progress. Not perfection.

Fast forward 8 Years. I have recovered from my addiction, have fallen in love with Christ and know that I am not all those things that I did. My life is focused on family, church, ministry, and friends. Life is good…

until things get a little messy. Then all those silly labels seem to come back. I have just come out a few months where my thought patterns were turning a little destructive again. My messy bathroom made me a bad housekeeper. My screaming preschooler in the grocery store made me a bad mother. The argument with my husband about dinner made me both a bad cook and a bad wife, and it goes on and on.

I bet you are either on the other side of this blog yelling at me for my thoughts, or maybe you are thinking, “Me too.”

Here’s the deal. I am not a bad housekeeper, bad wife, bad mother, and ESPECIALLY not a bad cook! My mind is just going there, and staying there.

The truth is I need to change my thoughts and remember that I am not what I do. I need my Father to renew my mind for a moment…Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Rom 12:2 because I am not good to anyone in that mindset. I need to take my thoughts captive and speak truth into them.

Truth – my bathroom is messy. I need to clean it.

Truth – my preschooler had a temper tantrum. I am a great mother! She’s still alive and happy today.

Truth – my husband loves me even when I cook something he doesn’t love.

Progress means that I can make changes day by day to makes things better. It means that I may or may not do things differently tomorrow, but it does not change who I am. Perfection is something I will never live up to and I cannot label myself because of it. I know that my Heavenly Father is fully aware of me and my messiness and He will hold my hand as we go through this world, because I am His daughter and He loves me. He loves you too.



4 thoughts on “Practicing Progress, Not Perfection”

  1. Kathy you are an inspiration to us all and this message was just what I needed to hear this week as I too was feeling like this a couple of days ago and The Lord heard my cries of frustration of myself and he picked me up the very next day and blessed me with his peace and let me know he is still my loving father even when I’m not my best!

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