Lately I keep seeing AT&T ads which have professionals who are just "okay", and they make the joke that “You wouldn’t want a surgeon/tattoo artist/mechanic who was 'okay', why settle for a network which is just 'okay'?” In reality, the examples shown on the commercials are not even sufficient service providers. What’s “not okay” is allowing bad service providers to go unchecked, but depending on your needs, sometimes “okay” is enough. At the same time, nurturing professions, such as pastoring and parenting, have been fighting to debunk the perfectionism mindset and celebrate the “okay-est” parent/pastor, ect. It’s also “not okay” to put people on a pedestal of perfection, whether through comparison or expectation. Placing such pressure on yourself or your pastor/mother/father/counselor/teacher only sets the stage for failure. An even more shocking term has come up in the last week as a certain political speaker threw a blanket insult at all of the "loser teachers" who are educating our children to be more inclusive and open-minded individuals. So, I’ve been contemplating what a “loser, okay, doing my best momma pastor” looks like for me.
Being a perfectionist, I have been trying to prepare myself for returning from maternity leave by reading books and visualizing what I need to do to meet my own expectations and the expectations of those who depend on me. Although I struggle with being the “okay-est” or "losing" at anything, I know my “best” and 100% will look differently than before. Robbie put it this way--"We need the space to fail for a while." I approach every task with the idea that I am "practicing" incorporating this new life into my previous life.
In many ways, being a mom even for this beginning time and especially as we grow, makes me a more effective pastor, in the same way that any big experience in life has the potential to transform you for the better. First of all, I am learning to be a better communicator. I try not to assume too quickly what Sammi needs. I listen, offer and respond. With Robbie, with whomever is watching Sammi, and with my partners in ministry, I am also becoming more effective at taking the time to listen to what they are saying or asking of me and Sammi. We all have different parenting styles and approaches to challenges. When I expect someone else to do exactly what I would have done, I am cheating others and myself from learning a new way to play, nurture, comfort, plan, lead, teach, etc. These skills are also teaching me to be more compassionate, as I imagine what others are trying to communicate or accomplish.
Most of all, caring for an infant has opened my eyes to the depth of my courage. If I can have the patience to hold and soothe a screaming baby, the endurance of pain through childrearing and nurturing, the boldness to venture out into the unknown protecting this fragile little person, I can do all things through the power of the one who gives me strength. When you leap boldly, you fall greatly, but every once in a while, you soar, and soaring leads to new heights. We’ve already hit a few very low and embarrassing moments, but we’ve also soared with the eagles. May you also dream and leap boldly, amidst the scratches and bruises, may you find healing and discover new heights.