A few weeks ago Sarah and I were back at the hospital for another diabetes clinic. We typically go every three months, but this time it had been closer to 4 1/2 and I was nervous. To be honest, I’m always nervous at these appointments. The team takes a look at all of Sarah’s numbers that have been downloaded from her pump, and they look at her A1C – a quick blood test they do that shows the over-all amount percentage of sugar that has attached to her red blood cells – and together this shows the team how well we’ve been managing Sarah’s diabetes.
And although that sounds benign on paper, as I’m sitting in the room waiting for the doctor to come I’m quaking on the inside. I thinking of all the times that I forgot to give Sarah insulin, or we didn’t count carbs right and how often her numbers were higher than they should have been and then I feel like I’m waiting for exam results. Like they are going to come into the room and tell me if I’ve passed or failed, and all I can see in my mind is a big red “F” stamped on Sarah’s medical chart. Now, in saying all of this I’m doing a disservice to Sarah’s wonderful medical team who has NEVER once treated her diabetes care like this, it’s just me. It’s a heavy burden I put on myself and I’ve usually got myself so wound up before these visits I often shed some tears.
However on this visit I was so relieved to find that we passed! hahaha Sarah’s A1C’s had come down slightly (which is good!) and the doctor was fine with what her numbers had been over-all and I could finally relax. I thanked the doctor for being so good to us, and always being encouraging rather than judgemental. He asked me if I had heard his space-ship to the moon story. I hadn’t, so he told me. He told me the story about how U.S. President John F. Kennedy wanted NASA to put a man on the moon. Finally in 1969 they were ready and Apollo 11 started it’s journey into outer-space. The doctor then asked me how many times during that journey the rocket was actually headed in the right direction towards the moon. My guess was 75% but he came back and said, “Nope, 5%”. I was really surprised by that number… wow! The doctor went on to say that we need to take that perspective with diabetes care. We are always striving for the moon and those great numbers, but have to realize that it’s a process, that it’s going to constantly need tweaking and small changes here and there, but the most important thing is to keep going. It’s a journey. And I liked that. Perfection is obviously what we are striving for, but the fact that NASA did something amazing without perfection has really made me think about Sarah’s diabetes care in a new light. It give me a long-view sort of mindset – one that takes some pressure off the here and now, knowing that we probably never will perfect, but there is always tomorrow.
But God clearly wanted to bring this idea into other areas of my life, and one of those is my anger. My anger and frustration with my kids when they aren’t listening or they argue with each other, or they don’t do what they are supposed to do, and how I can just get mad when life doesn’t go my way. I get frustrated because in my mind I’m telling myself, ‘It’s not supposed to be like this, why can’t everyone just do what they are supposed to do so we can have the happy life that I want?’
I read this line regarding parenting from Auntie Leila over at Like Mother like Daughter the other day… “The sooner you learn that frustration is part of the process, the happier you will be. Our worst enemy is thinking that things should be perfect.” This quote almost knocked me over! And it struck me that it’s so true! I was looking at problems completely the wrong way, thinking that they shouldn’t exist at all, instead of realizing it’s just a part of life!
It’s kinda funny because my friend Tania is currently parenting 4 little girls, 3 years of age and under, and we get a kick out of 2 of her children who get frustrated so easily, even when they are trying to accomplish things beyond their skill level. Like her baby who gets frustrated because she can’t crawl around as fast as her older sisters can move around, and so just puts her head down and howls. We laugh because we know it’s part of the process. We don’t expect a baby to just stand up and walk one day… we know that it takes lots of practice, lots of falls and lots of frustration on their part and we accept that it is part of the process of growing up and learning a new skill. So why have I decided somewhere along the line that things in my life have to be perfect all the time? I’m not perfect, why would I expect this of others? Clearly I need a paradigm shift.
Apparently perfection isn’t always a good thing anyway. I recently read an article from John Piper entitled “Parents, you can’t build heaven here”. He said that too often we try to make heaven for our children in the right here and now. We try to bring too much perfection in a child’s life – guarding them from too much or trying to give them too much in the name of our love for them, but this actually back-fires because it teaches children that they deserve perfection. And then when life (as we all know too well) falls very short of the perfection they are used to – these kids don’t know how to persevere and deal with problems. Instead of helping them, we’ve actually hindered their growth.
The verse that is used in John Piper’s article is Philippians 3:12, such a great verse….
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:12-14
Paul is telling us to keep going because we haven’t obtained perfection. Yes, it is our goal, but we have to keep forgetting what is behind and straining forward towards our goal. He doesn’t beat us up for not having obtained it… obtaining it is a future thing to look forward to, through the hard work of living and trying and striving.
I can see that it’s time for me to accept that frustration is a part of my life I can’t escape and so just deal. And if that frustration causes me to stop and refocus, or learn something new, or teach my children something new, or make changes along the way to my final goal (which in my life is to be more like Christ), then right now I am willing to take frustration instead of perfection – knowing that when perfection finally comes it will have been well worth the fight.