You know I’m all about meeting you when life’s not fair so you can find more even when life hands you less, well, when my friend Kim discovered her perfect-in-every-way thriteen-year-old daughter was cutting, her life disintegrated. However, it was through this LESS that she ultimately found freedom and so much MORE than she could ever imagine.
She admits it took oodles of hindsight to figure it out and start living it but she’s keen that if you’re in a similar place, feeling out of control and afraid of what’s around the next corner, you don’t have to wait for hindsight to come knocking.
Here she is to tell you what that looked like and how you can find more even when life’s handed you less.
Less is more.
You’ve probably heard it before. It’s the minimalist’s mantra, and in a loud world longing for simplicity, it makes sense. Rejecting the extraneous and embracing minimalism is a welcome change.
But even minimalism can be complicated. A quick online search for minimalism brings up 334,000,000 hits. That’s 334,000,000 ways to “simplify” your life. A reality of living in the information age is the non-stop flow of ways to make life better. We can perfect our schedules, our meal plans, our health, our careers, our homes, our relationships . . . you name it!
But perfectionism is insatiable. It always demands more.
Perfectionism offers us one of two mantras:
I need more . . . to have more, to do more, to be more.
And when we hit our inescapable limits and more proves to be elusive, it offers us the other:
I’m not enough.
In my book, An Imperfect Woman: Letting Go of the Need to Have It All Together, I tell the story of how God began to set me free from perfectionism’s relentless demands for more. In His sovereignty, He pulled the rug out from under me through a crisis with our daughter Emily.
Emily said, “Yes, ma’am,” taught Bible studies to her little friends in the neighborhood, helped me all the time, was a leader and example among her peers and loved Jesus wholeheartedly.
She also had nowhere to go with the reality of her sin. Emily had embraced the same striving, try-hard life as her mother and was a really “good” girl. When it came to my only daughter, I felt successful.
Until the day I walked into her room unexpected and discovered Emily was cutting. It looked like a cat had attacked her stomach. Had you told me that my sweet, little thirteen-year-old daughter was cutting, I would have said you were crazy. Emily said, “Yes, ma’am,” taught Bible studies, and truly loved Jesus wholeheartedly! Cutting wasn’t part of my plan.
We went on to discover that Emily was deeply depressed and had an eating disorder. My world crumbled. It crumbled not because I loved Em more than her brothers, but because I felt like she was the one I was getting it right with, and now I’d failed with her too. And I gave up. I kept going through the motions, but my heart wasn’t in it. How could I work so stinking hard and still fail so profoundly as a mom?
The helplessness and lack of control I felt were paralyzing. As a mother, you will do anything to protect your children. But what do you do when their enemy is themselves? My mind was frantic, but every strategy and fix I could conceive came up to a dead end. I would lie in bed at night begging God to protect Emily from herself. Begging him to fix us. My heart was breaking. What I didn’t know was that in my desperation God was breaking the back of perfectionism in my life. My life’s greatest failure would become the means of my freedom.
In his wisdom, love, and mercy, God had begun to sabotage my strategies.
(This excerpt is taken from Chapter One of An Imperfect Woman which can be viewed here.)
It’s been said that God’s harshest strokes are often His greatest mercies. At the time, what felt like punishment at best and abandonment at worst was truly His mercy.
Our good Father is not willing to let His beloved children spend their lives chasing after more. Whether our pursuit is for material, relational, or even spiritual perfectionism, He knows it’s a lie and not worthy of our temporary lives and eternal souls. So He’s willing to let us struggle (and even suffer) to see the truth that what looks like less in the economy of our world is often the road to more peace and joy and freedom than we could ever imagine.
Of course, it’s taken hindsight to fully embrace that truth. But in the middle of the pain and failure, all it took was faith.
Faith that He is a good Father. (Psalm 136:1; Galatians 4:4-7)
Faith that He was still with us. (Matthew 1:23; Hebrews 13:5-6)
Faith that He would redeem our situation. (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28)
Faith that what looked like way less than what we needed could possibly be His more than enough for us. (Isaiah 55:8-9; Luke 9:10-17)
Whatever your circumstances are today, I pray you will have just enough faith (even a tiny bit is enough) to believe that with God, less really can be more.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times,
you may abound in every good work.
~2 Corinthians 9:8
Kim Hyland is a writer, a speaker, and the founder and host of Winsome, an annual retreat for women that celebrates authenticity, diversity, and truth. She is also the author of An Imperfect Woman: Letting Go of the Need To Have It All Together. Kim speaks at national retreats and conferences, where she encourages women by sharing her imperfect path and God’s perfect plans. Originally from the DC metro area, she now lives with her family on a mountain overlooking the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Connect with Kim online at her website Winsome Living, Facebook, and Instagram.