Susie is a grateful mom of two young adult sons. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko.
Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets.
I have several “Anchor Moments” I can look back on in my life.
The amazing weekend at a Young Life camp where the message of salvation reached deep inside my confused teenage heart, and I surrendered my life to Jesus.
The ordinary morning at my son’s preschool when God drew me back to church through the words of a simple children’s worship song.
The awful night that I lost my beautiful Mom to cancer and how Jesus came especially close in my grief.
And so many more.
My mom and me the summer before she passed away
But this anchor moment that I am going to share with you here is something that I am still going (and growing) through right now.
For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with words. I love reading, writing, and exploring the origin and meaning of words. I’m like the character in one of my favorite children’s books, The Word Collector, by Peter F. Reynolds. In this darling story, a little boy has a collection of words. He writes them down, pastes them in scrapbooks, organizes and pairs them in interesting ways, and uses them to write songs and poems. He finds joy in sharing his words with others, which is one of my favorite things to do, too.
I look for words everywhere — especially in the Bible — that catch my heart, and I write them in my journal. Then I use these words to write notes of encouragement, devotions that inspire, and books that help people understand more about Jesus. I have to admit, however, that sometimes I focus a bit too much on words that God didn’t intend for me.
For example, the word perfect.
I liked that word for most of my life. At least I thought I did. I wanted it so badly to describe me.
I wanted to BE perfect: an A- or a B+ would destroy my grade point and my reputation. And disappointing someone or embarrassing myself? That would crush me.
I wanted to LOOK perfect: I was way too young when I started hating my body. For most of my life I have counted calories and over-exercised, starving myself in order to be thin and in control.
I wanted to ACT perfect: I did my best to follow all the rules. I was the ultimate people-pleaser. Teachers, my parents, my grandparents, my youth leaders, my siblings, my friends, my bosses… everyone got the best version of me until I collapsed (often in tears) into bed.
I now realize that all these efforts to be perfect contributed to my adult diagnosis of an anxiety disorder. My anxiety has taken many forms over the years, namely an eating disorder in my earlier years and then more recently an overwhelming fear of driving over bridges and debilitating panic attacks at unexpected times.
What made it so much worse was that as I tried to be a “perfect” daughter/sister/student/friend and then later a “perfect” Bible-study leader/wife/teacher/mom, I mistakenly thought that God really liked that word perfect, too.
I thought that he was expecting–maybe even demanding–perfection from me as well. But as hard as I tried, I couldn’t do it all exactly right. I fell short over and over–and every mistake made me feel like less of a Christian and more of a failure.
And the anxiety diagnosis? I was sure that someone who fully trusted God and his promises would not struggle with this paralyzing fear, certainly would not need counseling and medication just to get through the day. I felt so weak and ashamed.
Surely, I was letting Him down. How could He possibly love me? Why would He even want to work through imperfect me?
But it was during this time in my life that God showed me a verse from His Word that turned my understanding of the word perfect completely upside down.
“But he said to me: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
Yes, the word “perfect” is in there. But it is not the kind of perfect that I was beating myself up to achieve. This kind of perfect is about how God’s power shows up when I won’t, can’t, don’t do it all right. This verse is the truth about how God can make His goodness, His compassion, His truth, His redemption, and His miracles happen IN MY WEAKNESS.
When I do or say the wrong thing; then humbly ask for forgiveness. He is so merciful and so good at redeeming my mistakes.
When I am terrified, but I take His hand and walk into a new situation. He makes me a new kind of brave.
When I feel like I am not enough and too much at the same time. He gently reminds me that He absolutely adores me just the way He made me, and I am His child.
When I whisper His name in the middle of an anxiety attack. He wraps me up in love and helps me breathe in His peace.
When I am weak, He is strong. And that’s when I really get to see His perfection, not mine.
So now my new favorite word is grace. His grace is sufficient. It is enough.
I don’t deserve His love. I can’t earn my salvation. And, yes, I still struggle with anxiety. But I am learning to live in the truth and freedom of how Jesus sees me. He knows me better than anyone in my life. He knows my every imperfection and still loves me completely.
And whenever I remember this verse and turn my eyes to Him, He shows up. How amazing it is to be chosen by Him to live every day in His powerful, refreshing, surprising, and perfect grace.