“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3b (ɴɪᴠ)
We’d been looking forward to this evening all summer. First, dinner with Kathi and Roger. And then…drum roll…Tim Hawkins in concert!
But now as we drove toward San Jose, we could hardly keep our eyes open, let alone muster excitement.
Having just returned from an overseas trip, our jet-lagged bodies had no idea where we were or what time it was. They just demanded sleep. Now.
“Do you think Kathi and Roger will mind if I rest on their couch for a few minutes?” Daniel asked.
I hesitated. I knew that Kathi and Roger had made reservations to take us out to dinner. I feared spoiling the perfect evening they’d been planning.
But I also knew that Daniel needed a nap more than anything. Otherwise, he’d fall asleep in his soup. Which would certainly put a damper on the evening’s festivities.
Pushing past fear, I texted Kathi: “Daniel’s beat. Could he nap on your couch for an hour or so once we get there?”
Meanwhile, Kathi and Roger were in the midst of their own conundrum.
They’d committed to taking us out to dinner before a string of unexpected financial difficulties. Now, unbeknown to us, they were in the midst of a no-spend summer.
Kathi was afraid to go back on her word: they could rationalize charging this one dinner on their credit card, couldn’t they? But when Roger pointed out, “People are generally happy to have food,” she agreed.
Because of bad traffic, Daniel and I were almost an hour late to the Lipps’. The entire time, I did mental math, calculating Daniel’s nap shrinking and shrinking and finally disappearing. All we’d have time for was dinner and the Tim Hawkins show. Daniel was going to be a zombie.
So when Kathi said, “Sorry, guys, but we’re eating in tonight…” we fell over ourselves assuring her it would be “fine, just fine, more than fine!” (We may or may not have shed actual tears of relief.)
Daniel crashed on their comfy couch for two solid hours while Kathi and I recorded a couple podcasts.
Then we shared a simple meal of tomato soup, salad, homemade bread, and strawberry shortcake (with fresh whipped cream!). We sat around the very kitchen table where, two years prior, the idea for our book was born. And we talked and listened and listened and talked.
It was perfect.
Because we’d beaten the bullies.
The bullies of Try-Harder Living–Perfectionism, People-Pleasing, Performancism, and Procrastination–love to tell us we have to do things “perfectly” or everything will be ruined.
(And no, the fact that we “wrote the book on them” does not exempt us from bully ambushes!)
- They told Kathi, “You have to take them out to dinner! You promised! What kind of friend doesn’t stick to her word?”
- They told me, “You have to drag your tired rear end out to dinner with them. How ungrateful do you want them to think you are?”
If we’d caved into our respective fears of seeming flaky or ungrateful, we would have done things “perfectly” by going out to dinner. And we all would have been miserable, but none of us would have understood why.
The bullies would have won.
Instead, because we interacted with honesty, grace, love, and kindness–for ourselves as well as each other–our time together was truly perfect.
Rest. Fabulous food. Unhurried conversation.
Exactly what we needed that day.
Honesty. Grace. Love. Kindness.
Exactly what we each need every day.
And interacting with honesty, grace, love, and kindness–for ourselves and each other–is exactly how to get rid of fear and kick it to the curb.
Question: Thinking back to a recent situation in which you caved to the bullies, how could you have been more honest, gracious, loving, and/or kind to yourself as well as others?