The other day I was cleaning the house. There were legos, baseballs, and books all over my boys’ room. I think it was the umpteenth time I had picked up the same toys in the three days.
I took a deep breath and went on to clean the next room. When I did, I noticed my planner sitting at my desk, then my eyes shifted to the trash I needed to empty. And oh, wait there was my phone; I remembered I needed to call my mom to ask her something. My mind was going in 456,000 directions, and the second I picked up my phone, I added about eight more. Can anyone relate to the to the feeling of running around but getting nothing completed?
I sat down at my desk, looked at the clock, and felt mad at myself for sleeping later than normal. That was why I was so behind on everything. As a wife, work-from-home mom, and leader of a ministry, the basic tasks like laundry, cleaning, and dishes have suffered. And let’s just be real, most days I put my highlight reel on social media, but on this particular day I wanted to post a different sort of Facebook status:
So tired of perfection! My house is a mess, my husband and I are fighting, and I need to catch up on work. But all I want to do is curl up in my bed and ignore it all.
Thoughts of possible consequences started racing through my mind. This was the opposite of perfect. I figured if I went through with it, the first phone call would be from my concerned mom; then my best friend Donna May would probably come to my rescue. But my biggest concern—and the real reason I didn’t do it—was because I worried what people might think of me.
I am the queen of allowing someone else’s opinion control me. Especially other moms and people I know who are just waiting on me to fall flat on my face (yes, those people exist). So on these particular days, I typically wear a mask out in public that looks like a smile and continue to make my fake posts.
So I ignored my to-do list and googled “perfect Scripture in the Bible.” Here was the first one I read. “Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4
My heart sank when I read those words. I finally recognized what was standing right in front me: trials of various kinds. The biggest thing I lacked was what is written in the second part: the testing of my faith producing endurance. Instead of having faith and gaining endurance, I was working so hard by taking control and gaining exhaustion. And the exhaustion was causing the exact opposite of perfect in my life; it was causing complete chaos.
In that moment I looked around and decided that day I would choose to embrace the trials, but this time with faith. It’s only by God’s love in my life that I can conquer my to-do list with joy.
It’s only by God’s rest and peace in my life that I can have the endurance to finish what He has called me to. That day I threw perfect out of my vocabulary and replaced it with grace. God did not call me (or you!) to slap a plastic smile on, make a fake social media status, or work for perfection. He has called us to have faith and endure. Without the trials and long suffering, we can’t have endurance, and without faith we cannot be made complete.
Whatever your trial looks like today, be grateful for it. Because without it you can’t have the endurance. Lace up your running shoes, grab your Bible, and count it all joy because Jesus is right there ready to grow your faith and make you complete in Him.
Ashley Shepherd is a wife, mother, entrepreneur, public speaker, published author, and minister to women. The daughter of a preacher, she was born and raised in Eastern Tennessee, where she lives today with her husband, Ryan, and their two boys. In the fall of 2015, Ashley launched an online Bible study that quickly grew to more than 9,000 women in just four weeks. Today, the Beautifully Designed community is composed of more than 17,000 women who regularly join together to pray, study Scripture, and give one another hope as each discovers their true identity in Christ. Ashley is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and holds a degree in journalism. Her first book, Beautifully Designed, will release in the fall of 2017. You can learn more about her ministry at BeautifullyDesigned.com.