Leaning into the Stretch

Sometimes you have to lean into the uncomfortable areas of life.

I have had to do this a few times these past few months.

King David calls it ‘encouraging yourself in the Lord.’

For others, its called ‘putting your big girl pants on’

…And pulling them up real high.

I don’t mind which term you use, but I know that we are often required to lean into the stretch

And that it’s hard

And it takes courage

And it is often humbling,

Even overwhelming.

You may be facing the stretch at work,

Maybe in your family with trying kids,

Maybe in your marriage with issues that are difficult to resolve.

Today I was stretched to capacity trying to finish a song I was writing for the new album.

I am constantly faced with my fear of it not translating the way I want it to

Or of it not being good enough.

I wanted to run from the challenge when it got too hard,

But ended up spending two days reworking the song and ultimately getting it to a place where I am now happy with it.

Many of us, like me, tend to want to run when faced with the stretch,

But I have personally found that this makes for a miserable, unfulfilled life.

Because unless you face the stretch then it can easily dominate you

And force you to live a half life,

Or a life wracked up in insecurity or pain or heartache or timidity or living below what you were born to do.

The bible talks about enlarging your tent pegs.

I can’t tell you how often I’ve had that word given to me as an encouragement!

Ha!

I don’t like getting that scripture because I know what will inevitably follow…

It means stretch, and a pushing back of the old, familiar and comfortable.

It means enlarging my capacity for things,

For people, for my kids, for projects, for God, for His will in my life…

And while I know that without the stretch there will not be growth,

I always find it hard to lean into.

So today,

As I’m sitting here writing this,

I have many reasons (completely justified)

As to why I could easily run away from the stretch,

But like you,

I’m going to choose to put my big girl pants on

And lean into it.

I know that at the end,

I’m going to have a character that has God’s humility all over it,

And His kindness and unmistakable compassion.

I’m going to be doing things that I never dreamed of because I said yes to the stretch,

Even when I felt completely vulnerable and out of my depth and inadequate.

I’m going to have relationships that are marked with grace and love,

Not just tolerance and getting by because I have to.

It’s up to me

And you.

Lean into the stretch today because it is the place where you will find the greatest satisfaction, purpose and growth in your life.

I know this to be true 🙂

Cate x

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Making Peace with Imperfection

For a long time, I felt that if my life wasn’t perfect then I had failed.

And that really bugged me.

I didn’t have the perfect marriage.

I didn’t have the perfect kids.

I didn’t have the perfect house.

I didn’t have the perfect relationship with God….

And I still don’t.

At least I can freely say that now…

As you can imagine, the list went on.

A sense of failure would rip through my thoughts and heart like I had messed it all up.

This longing to have the ‘perfect’ would cripple my decision making process,

And cause me to compare my life to others who seemingly,

From the outside looking in,

Had those ‘perfect’ lives.

I remember one day saying to God,

‘Why am I so miserable?‘

‘What am I doing so wrong?’

‘Why can’t I be happy?’

Oh gosh, those kinds of prayers are a recipe for a life revolution!

And I got one.

Thank God!

I truly needed it!

I can say that now, but at the time, it was hell.

I remember thinking almost daily during this season,

How could my life honestly can’t get any more chaotic, messy, ruined, imperfect….?

I believe God had to get me to the rock bottom of myself,

Excavate my life so thoroughly,

So that I could find the veins of gold He had been wanting to show me.

And what were these?

First, I learned that there is no perfect life

And that anyone who tells you any differently is either a liar,

Or delusional 🙂

Secondly, there are no perfect choices,

And if you make a choice that you know is slightly wrong, or imperfect,

It’s ok.

God can deal with it.

In fact, He often does spectacular things with these messy moments.

My power works best in your weakness, He says.

I can’t tell you how much this has been proven in my life.

I have learned to settle in my imperfection.

It’s a really tough gig trying to prove to yourself and the world that you have it all together, all the time.

I’m now much more content to be the person who has it together some of the time.

I no longer have anything to prove.

I just care what God thinks of me and I love that His power is free to shine through me from under the throne of grace,

The safest and most productive place to sit when cultivating a life free from the need to be perfect.

I hear Him say almost daily, ‘It’s ok Cate.  Trust me, I’ve got this.  I’m going to take what you have given and make it all beautiful in my perfect timing. Learn to rest in who you are and who I have made you.”

Thirdly, making peace with imperfection is simply about choosing Trust over Fear.

Trust is the opposite of fear.

Trust means that I put fear under my foot and look skyward,

Not leaning on my own understanding.

I wish someone had told me earlier in my life that this kind of fear was all bluff.

Fear of failure,

Fear of rejection,

Fear of the unknown,

Fear of what others would think…

Do you think that He, the author and finisher of your faith would bring you this far to disappoint?

I had a revelation that it was actually in my weakness that He was my strength.

He had to show me what total imperfection meant in order that I might truly see what perfect looks like.

And perfect is this:

Living in trust and surrender,

Obedience and faith,

And overwhelming gratitude.

Perfect lives have mess and uncertainty,

They have seasons of imperfection and very real failure,

They are laced with irritations and wrong turns.

There were weeds in the garden when Adam and Eve were tending to it, I’m sure.

But that didn’t make their life any less ideal…

Likewise, the gardens of our lives are planted daily with imperfect weeds,

Imperfect moments.

And that’s ok.

It doesn’t make it bad.

We need to understand that taking our game face off,

Of having lives that are more matte less gloss,

Is not only acceptable,

It’s beautiful.

It’s where we learn to trust God and where we learn to live in a way that leans heavily into His grace for our lives.

Being imperfect is about letting our true selves be seen,

Because when we are,

Liberty, contentment, peace, rest and joy are able to flood in like they haven’t before.

Why don’t you join me in making peace with imperfect in your world?

I guarantee you will be more fulfilled.

Cate x