Sometimes I feel stuck, like I can’t change despite my efforts. From physical afflictions to moods and attitudes, there are parts of me that seem imbedded beyond any self-helping or God-healing reach.
I usually feel better when I spell out my frustrations, either by journaling, conversing, or meeting with my counselor.
At the end of a recent counseling session, I blurted out to her,
“I’m doing my best!”
Then I burst into tears. It was a breakthrough for me to make such a statement.
- I had spent an hour telling her about all the ways I was trying to be a better person. And how I was failing.
- I have spent decades trying to become better, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And changing too little.
- I have often insisted, either silently or as an aside, No-one ever does their best.
Of course, I include my self in this judgment. My counselor helped me dig for the roots of this damning belief:
For one, as a kid, I saw my dad refuse to control his own impulses even as he commanded obedience from his wife and children.
For two, I learned from the Bible and church to have high ideals. When I miss the mark and do not live consistently, I blame my character flaws.
For three, there’s often a weak part of me that stays in bed a little too long, a bratty part that refuses to be kind.
However, speaking of parts, my therapist pointed out another part of me: my inner child.
I know you’ve heard of that inner child. She or he is the little kid you wouldn’t lift a finger at, let alone accuse of slacking. For that child, we have gobs of compassion. We tell her or him, you are loved, no matter what.
Or do we? Do I?
It turns out, most of us don’t have enough self-compassion. We are hard on ourselves even though we can’t imagine being that tough on our sweet grandchild or the neglected kid next door.
Why don’t we love ourselves better?
When I was eleven years old, I was invited to be in a fashion show. Of all the clothes offered for me to model, I chose a plaid suit with snaps on the jacket.
As a young adult, I always smirked at that kid in the photo. I didn’t have much love for someone with such bad taste and bad hair.
But a few years ago, I decided to love that little Chris who felt so good in those snazzy cuffs. She wasn’t worried about how good or bad she was or about what other people thought. She was her best self in that moment. In fact, despite the turmoil of her divorcing parents, she was definitely doing her best.
Lately, I have more grace for my shortcomings. The passion I have for grandson Asher and granddaughter Callaway trickles down to the hidden parts of my heart. Aided by the panoramic view of grand parenting, I can sense the little girl in me who still needs love, and hugs, and healing.
Today, things are looking up. I feel better about my stuck-ness now that I’ve shared it with you.The changes do come, usually in tiny increments. But one big measure of my progress is the fact that, sometimes, I have compassion for the little child inside me and I say the phrase out loud,
“I’m doing my best!”
12 thoughts on “Am I Doing My Best?”
Thank you for being so honest. I found myself thinking today “Will I ever get fixed?” Following on from that I decided not to allow myself to be put in a box. I am who I am and I need to be real. I sometimes feel like my strong views get me in trouble but I guess that’s the way I’m meant to be. I suppose that we’re all just trying to do our best.
If it’s any consolation I know for sure that God wastes nothing. Our adversities shape us (I finally understand what the shape of grace means).
Anyway I just wanted to say that your music is still helping me and soothing my soul decades after it was produced. That’s an amazing legacy when you think about it. Whilst you tackled tricky subjects in your music it always leaves me uplifted everytime. Blessings to you and family.
Ian, I appreciate your honesty! And I am amazed and grateful that our music still speaks to you after all of these years. Thanks for the blessings!
Hi, this is Bill from Denver, and I hope this is not an over-simplified response to your “am I doing my best” question! But it is a sincere and hopefully spirit-filled answer!
You need to go find a CD called Out of the Grey and read and listen to the song called “Time Will Tell”..!
You (We!) will always do our best when we are having those moments when we give up on our un-perfect expectations and efforts and give them to God to solve in his perfect timing!!!
However, we also do not always fail! Sometimes, with the Holy Spirits Power, we can get it right the first time!
Bill from Denver (I recommend listening to the whole album!)
well-said and well-taken, Bill…thanks!
My mom, having struggled long and hard with perfectionism, tried to help her children avoid that by telling us to just do our best.
She could not, of course, have predicted that my overanalytical self would take her intended encouragement and think, “But… how do I *know* when I’ve done my best? How do I know what the best I can do actually is? I guess I’ll just have to try for perfect and see where I end up.” Aaah, the best-laid plans…
So even under truly supportive circumstances, it can be tough to avoid the trap of our own self-criticism and perfectionism.
And really, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be able to see our own flaws. But it is, of course, difficult to strike the balance between seeing those flaws and either dismissing them or being paralyzed by them. It’s hard to *really* remember – to let ourselves be impacted by remembering – that even in the midst of those flaws, even before we could see them, God saw them (and all the ones we haven’t seen yet) and still loved us. And in His love, he still seeks relationship with us, still works in us, and if we let Him, still uses us. And since He hasn’t given up on us, we don’t have to give up on ourselves.
Wayfarer, A good illustration of the common struggle. Thanks for helping strike the balance!
Thank you, Christine, for your willingness to be transparent.
I was so thankful to stumble upon your writing this morning.. The Lord used your lyrics/songs to inspire and lift me up as I raised my kids and now your words are still helping me as I am pushing 60, and I know what it’s like to be in what I call the “sandwich” years.. caring for an aging parent and loving on my grand ones and wondering if i will ever change.. am I doing enough? Am I enough?? Will I ever truly understand the grace of the Lord for myself?? I think knowing we are not alone in these struggles helps and I can “hear” you much better than I do myself when I try to tell myself the truth! And the truth is that Jesus died for us.. His grace is (more than) sufficient, and we need to love ourselves the way He does.. without condition.. no performances needed.. just showing up needy believing He is enough.. I am learning that this is the true “work”.. to believe.. John 6:28,29
Thank you again for continuing to write and share..
A grateful Nana in Wisconsin
Thanks, Val, for your thoughtful words. I really resonate with “we need to love ourselves the way He does.. without condition.. no performances needed.. just showing up needy believing He is enough.”
I missed this as an original post. So glad I caught it this time. Sometimes I let myself imagine what it will be like in heaven to have perfectly sanctified emotions. As always, you have spoken words of life that I need to hear! The song that’s speaking to me lately is “What’s It Gonna Be.” Thank you!
Oh, thanks for saying so!
I know I am reading this article late, but I want you to know that I can relate and I appreciate your honest sharing!