It was arts and crafts time at Vacation Bible School and I was demonstrating how to construct an origami boat. I followed the picture guide in front of me as the kids and I took it step by step together. I finished the first step and looked around to see how they were doing.
The little boys dove into their work, some even consulting the paper to move on to the next step without me. The lone girl, however, had yet to reach for her paper. She watched intently but never made a move. Instead, she had a request.
“Can you do it one more time so I can see how it ends? I just want it to be perfect.”
In retrospect, I should have used the opportunity as a teaching moment for this cute 7-year-old with pigtails and a seemingly innocent quest for perfection. Because if she is anything like me (and most women), this could be the beginning of a lifelong and impossible pursuit.
To be fair, I get where she is coming from. Some of us prefer to see a project’s beginning and end before we’re ready to commit to it. It is not an unreasonable request. However, that’s not how it works. As life keeps teaching me, that’s not how any of this works.
I recently attended a leadership panel featuring women who call the shots for some powerful organizations. Now at the top of their career games, they shared advice and stories from their journeys.
A recurring theme I noticed was that none of these women set out to run their organizations. It was not their career goal to lead thousands. They simply loved their work and gave their all day in and day out. In the midst of their grinding, there was always someone who took notice and encouraged them to take on a higher position. The women did not establish mile markers so that they could chart their progress on the path to greatness. Instead they made discipline, passion, and dedication the building blocks of their success, and allowed those blocks to elevate them to heights they never imagined.
Most of us have come of age in a time in which we are obsessed with the end goal. We were told to develop a 5-year plan, a 10-year plan, and so on. We were encouraged to determine exactly how long it should take to reach the pinnacle of our career, and we were told not to stop until we arrived.
While planning is important, it does not always leave room for the spontaneous – the positions you would never think to apply for, the challenges you don’t think you’re up to, the people you’re likely to overlook, the passions you have yet to discover, the blessings you don’t know you need, the desires you’re afraid to admit lie deep within. Even our best plans, mapped in perfect detail from start to finish, can go awry. Life throws a curveball and we are forced to make new plans, again and again, until our plans finally align with God’s perfect plan.
Lately I have been fighting the angst that accompanies not being able to map out my future. I am faced with imperfect opportunities that don’t necessarily fit into my plans. However, I am trying to give them space to breathe and time to play out. I am attempting to leave room for spontaneity and accept that perfect circumstances are about as common as perfect people.
I would hate to miss important chances waiting for the perfect moment. I am taking it slowly, with the hand of God leading me and the voice of God calming me. I am trusting Him to nudge me if I venture too far off course. I am abandoning the part of me that still views the world as the young girl in VBS did. I am letting go of the need to see my entire process before I dare to begin. I am refusing to wait for perfect conditions in order to make a step. I am letting go of perfect.
SheryLeigh is a woman who loves God, words, and people. She is currently living and loving as an author, blogger, poet, and spoken word artist in the Washington, D.C., area.
A communicator by education and trade, SheryLeigh holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Howard University and a Master of Arts in Management from Webster University.