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.