EPISODE 7: PRESENT OVER PERFECT BOOK STUDY RECAP




In this episode we listen to one of our small group leaders, Alyssa Cummings, share some powerful takeaways from Shauna Niequist’s book “Present over Perfect, Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living”. She reveals the lie that keeps us stuck in our busy lifestyle and shares the truth on how we can rewire our mindset about rest and the role it plays in our life. She provides insights on how we can prioritize being present and grow in our relationship with God. We encourage you to listen!


Podcast Links:


Listen Now on Spotify

Listen Now on Apple Podcast


Book:

"Present Over Perfect" - Shauna Niequist


Blog:

Let me tell you, the timing of this episode could not have been more perfect. For my sisters that

struggle with perfectionism or with feeling exhausted from the busyness of life, this episode will be so refreshing for you to hear. Alyssa (one of our small group leaders), walked us through a book called “Present over Perfect, Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living” by Shauna Niequest. Even if you aren’t an avid reader, I highly encourage getting this book because it will help you in more ways than you realize.


Many of you may not know a lot about Alyssa but trust me when I say she has grown TREMENDOUSLY throughout the course of our sisterhood. It’s been a privilege to see how she’s allowed God to mold her and use her in a powerful way, but it didn’t happen overnight. There’s a phrase that says, “you can’t lead someone somewhere you’ve never been,” and Alyssa exemplifies a great example of what that looks like. For her, being a leader looks like “being vulnerable first. It looks like opening up and kind of showing them it’s a safe place to share.” She saw that “if our small group of women, if all of us feel (tired), how many more women out there feel this way and are just living a chaotic life and thinking that’s all that life is, thinking that’s how they have to continue living their lives, that there’s not something more out there for them.” We can think busyness means being productive and accomplishing things, or we can stay busy because people rely and depend on us to get things done. While those things may be true, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t allowed to stop and rest.

This book is a giant mirror that exposes all the things we thought were “normal” when it comes to how hectic our lives get. Alyssa shares a great example of what it should look like when we have these conversations.


“It looks just like listening, opening up the floor for other women to speak. Something I always try to do is let the awkward silence sit a little bit before people answer.”

As an introvert, I understand the discomfort of speaking out and I want to share something with you.

I know in small groups it can be kind of scary to share your thoughts. You might still be processing what you’ve read or how you would answer a question. In that awkward silence, you feel that tug in your heart to share but you end up keeping it to yourself or letting the moment pass by. That feeling is the worst, and I know it well because I am guilty of doing that often. I want to share with you some of the thoughts that play in my head. I think to myself, "it won’t make sense when I say it out loud, or I’m scared of sounding dumb." I’ll compare myself to how other people are answering and feel like I’m not as spiritual or as eloquent. I want to remind you that those are straight up lies from Satan. What you have to say matters and Alyssa shares that “sometimes you just have to work up the courage to say something.


"What you share could help or resonate with someone else or bring a new perspective to the table. If you ever hear any of those lies, say “NOT TODAY SATAN,” and then share what’s on your heart. I promise you won’t be disappointed if you do, you’ll only be disappointed if you don’t."

I’m not sure when we learned that resting wasn’t necessary or that we didn’t need to make time to rest but that lie has caused some major implications. Even the thought of resting can make some of us cringe or feel guilty because it’s not something we think about or ever practice because we may feel selfish in doing so. There will never be a shortage of things that can keep you busy. Our co-host Gabby made a great point that really stood out to me.


“If God’s asked you to do something, He’ll give you the grace for it in that season. Timing is important. Asking God is important and getting rid of the idea that good things are all God things because they’re not. Some things are just good things, but (God) didn’t ask you to do it.”

She gives us a great suggestion to help us figure out what we should do and what we should leave for other people to do. “What is my mission and life’s purpose in this season? In the leftover time (after prioritizing my responsibilities) am I saying yes to things that are helping move that mission forward?”Our time is valuable, but it’s also limited. When you look at your schedule or to-do list, make sure that all the important stuff takes priority, like spending time with your loved ones, running errands, going to appointments etc. If throughout the week you notice you haven’t had any time to just sit, be present and rest, it’s time to start taking things off your plate. That may be saying no to someone asking for help and that’s tough.

Our host Jenn gave us perspective for those of us that are on the other side of that no. “I need in that moment to say, ‘I trust her judgment, and I’ve got to be able to handle this. Be the woman who understands, the woman who is listening to her sister and understanding in that moment because I could be in the same moment a week later.” Sometimes we can feel that saying no is denying someone or being selfish but you’re giving someone else the opportunity to step up and help. You’re great and I’m sure that’s why people come to you for help, but girl remember, you’re human not superwoman.


Gabby pointed out that “it’s a great first experience when someone gives us grace when we say "no." We sometimes think they’ll ask why not or do you even care?” We can think that we need to have a good enough excuse for our "no" to be justified but that’s not the case. Gabby reminded us that “no is a complete sentence.” We don’t need to over explain. “Go back to that mission statement, what’s your purpose, what do you feel is most important in your life and if it doesn’t line up with that, then even if it’s something good, it’s okay to say no. When you’re creating more time in your life, if you’re saying no and taking less on your plate, you should replace some of that with spending time with God.” Our most important relationship is with him. When we’re not growing closer to God, we can start to feel overwhelmed by life because we try to control everything. Like Jenn mentioned, “we can play God internally,” but those are impossible shoes to fill.

Alyssa revealed the lie we often tell ourselves and the truth we can use to refute that lie. “...we don’t have the time in our busy schedules to either tend to our souls to spend time with God and some women might have believed before this study that it wasn’t important to do that. Or maybe going to church or listening to worship music a couple times a week was enough.” She reminds us that we have this “God-shaped hole”, and we try to fill it with other things. “Yes, we’re busy but all those roles that we play in our lives, we can’t truly be the best version of ourselves if we are not operating from a foundation of a relationship with God. At the end of the day, if you have time to watch Netflix, you have time to spend with God. If you have time to be scrolling through social media, you have time to spend with God…If it’s something that’s important to you, you will make the time for it. The truth is we need to spend time with God more than we realize.”

Spending time with God can look however you want it to look and it’s important to create specific time for you and Him. Make it personal and do things that work for YOU. You can focus on a specific book or attribute of God. You can follow a reading plan online or listen to worship songs and find the scriptures that go with the lyrics. It can be praying on your way to work or listening to the bible while you’re cleaning the house. Find what works for you and know that it can look different every day, but it’s crucial to prioritize time to stop, be present, and spend time with God. It’s what our mind, body and soul need to be whole. “God is the only one that is going to satisfy that hole that we’re feeling.” Lasting fulfillment is far better than instant gratification that works for a little bit and quickly fades away.

If you find yourself feeling exhausted and running from one thing to another on your checklist, stop and re-evaluate how much you’ve taken on. Be honest with yourself and take an inventory. “There’s I’m tired and there’s I'm empty.” You might’ve heard the saying that you can’t pour from an empty cup, and it’s true. Below are questions that we could ask ourselves to see if we notice any red flags when it comes to evaluating how we’re doing.

  • What does your health look like?

  • How do the most important relationships to you look?

  • How does your marriage look? Are you spending time with one another?

  • What does your space look like?

  • How do you feel when you wake up in the morning? Is it anxiety-ridden or is it excitement? Is there joy or is there dread?

If you’re not sure, find someone who knows you well and ask if they’ve noticed you behaving differently.

This episode is just a little taste of how many great takeaways this book has to offer. Take some time this week to evaluate everything that’s on your plate and make sure you make time to just rest. If God himself, the creator of the entire universe, took a day to rest, how much more do we need to? Think about what way you want to spend time with God and make it personal so it doesn’t feel like a chore but instead something to look forward to. I personally used to write love notes from God to myself because my love language is words of affirmation. Or I would go on “dates” with God to my favorite coffee shop and just read about my favorite qualities of him. Do you girl, but my encouragement is to make resting and spending time with God priorities in your life. You will feel the difference, and you’ll start living instead of just surviving.

As always, thank you for reading and we’re glad you showed up!

Lexxy


Takeaways:


  • Think about your mission and life’s purpose in this season and use that to help you determine what things you should and shouldn’t put on your plate.

  • We can’t be the best version of ourselves if we’re not operating from the foundation of a healthy relationship with God.

  • No is a complete sentence.

  • If you’re on the receiving end of a “no”, extend grace and understanding and trust their judgment.

  • Only God can truly satisfy the hole that we feel in our life.

  • If God himself took a day to rest, how much more do we need to?

  • Personalize what you want your time with God to look like. It doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. Find something that works for you and make it a priority.


Homework:


Shauna provides some great practices on how we move from grace to action in our efforts to rest and spend time with God. If you’re not sure where to start, she gives you a few options to consider.

  • Spend some time in Solitude. Be okay with being alone and not having to talk. Be willing to just listen. It doesn’t have to be for two hours, try doing 5 minutes starting off and gradually increase over time.

  • Practice Centering Prayer. Focus on God and his attributes. Think about things he’s called you to do and who he says you are.

  • Rest and Sabbath. Cease from all labor and just take time to rest. If God himself took time to rest, we need to follow his example and do the same.

  • Reading Scripture and Meditating on a Passage. Take the time to understand what you’re reading and meditate on what it’s saying. If something is confusing or if you have questions, write them down and ask someone who is spiritually mature to help you understand what it means.

  • Spiritual Direction and Counseling. Have a conversation with someone with the intent of spiritual growth. Find someone that will call you higher, challenge you and be honest. Someone to hold you accountable and someone who will help you spiritually grow and point you in the right direction.


Related Scriptures:


Genesis 2:2-3 “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”


Mark 2:27 “Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.’”


Psalm 62:1 “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.”


Psalm 37:31 “The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip.”


Psalm 19:7-9 “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.”


Resources:

7 Day Reading Plan “Soul Rest”

5 Day Reading Plan “Making Time to Rest”

Scripture on finding rest in God