I licked the peanut butter frosting around the entire rim of a cookie sandwich. I did this in the car, shamelessly, at a stoplight on my way home from a prayer meeting. Because I am human. And this is the sort of thing humans, even when they know better, sometimes do.
I am not advocating this behavior. Someone once told me if you can’t be an example then be a warning. So consider yourself warned. I will say I felt provoked and prodded toward that cookie sandwich with a red-hot stick. But who am I kidding? It was my foot on the gas and my voice in the drive-through saying, “You’re all out of cupcakes? Well, I’ll just take a cookie sandwich with peanut butter frosting, thanks.”
All of this came after an epic day. I showed up at an event this morning where I thought I was simply going to be participating. “Come and pray,” they said. “Casual,” they promised. “No big deal,” they demurred.
But when I walked through the door I heard instead, “Oh, there’s our guest author!” I stared, wide-eyed, and thought about backing away slowly, slowly. Then this, “You’ve been told you’re facilitating this, right?” I pinched my arm to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. I thought I might faint. I wondered if someone else might be standing behind me, someone more responsible and spiritual and loud who would love to be the on-the-spot-MC for a gathering of strangers. One of the coordinators, noting my discomfort, offered, “I could lead if you want me to.”
I wish I could say I picked the brave way, that I chose to be bold and pulled my shoulders back as I quoted, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” But instead I shoved that outline into her hands like it was a hot potato and said, “Have at it.” She looked startled and I realized then it was not a real offer. It was a polite offer.
Now there were two wide-eyed women standing there with a crowd building around us. She looked at me. I looked at her. Who would back down first? The official leader, a very nice man, must have sensed the fear and hormones drifting through the air. He took the paper and said, “Okay, I’ll do it.” At this point I could have gathered my wits and guts and stepped up to the plate. Instead I just said, at the exact same time as the scared silly woman next to me, “Great!”
In spite of me it turned out to be a really beautiful time. One woman attending talked to God in this intimate, gorgeous way that made me want to start all over in prayer kindergarten and learn everything again. She cried tears in front of us, who didn’t know her at all, and I thought about the woman who broke the alabaster jar on the feet of Jesus. She broke herself right there, without shame or hesitation, and I could sense the delight of God in her doing so. By the time we ended I felt breathless and blessed. And I remembered this lesson: I am human and God is God and both of these things are good.
So often the fear of being human makes us hold back. We don’t want to show up at the event because we might freak out right there in front of everyone. We don’t want to take the next step because we might stumble. So we tell ourselves we’ll wait until we’re sure we can handle it. That it will turn out okay. That our hair is in place and that smile is on our face and we can knock ‘em dead. But we serve a God who wants to bring life through us instead. And we will never, ever be ready. He will just go ahead and use us anyway. Doing something a bit badly on the way to doing it well is just part of the package. God told Paul, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT).
Here’s the reality: The only thing that really got hurt in my awkward moment at the prayer event was my pride. And goodness knows anything that takes a sledgehammer to that is a helpful thing.
When I got home this evening I looked at my new pair of dark jeans and saw a glob of peanut butter frosting staring back at me accusingly. I rolled my eyes and headed for the bathroom where I dabbed it off with a wet washcloth. Then I looked in the mirror and said, “We’ll do better next time.”
And you know what?
Michele Morin says
These words are today’s gift: ” Doing something a bit badly on the way to doing it well is just part of the package. ”
It’s unbelievable, really, that I need to hear this one more time, but I’m constantly coming back to the truth that God is the only perfect person in the room.
Holley Gerth says
I need to hear it over and over again too! 🙂
Angelina Rendon says
I needed to hear those very same words. Perfect timing. Thank you Holley for sharing your honest heart and being so open.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
It’s one thing to be imperfect and fearful, but it’s another thing to do it in front of an audience. I love your bravery in not only being real, but being real in front of others and sharing your stories so that others can be encouraged in their imperfection. We/I always think we have to be prepared and “ready”, but there is such truth in this statement – “And we will never, ever be ready. He will just go ahead and use us anyway. Doing something a bit badly on the way to doing it well is just part of the package.” Like you, my pride gets in the way (that’s the nasty thing about pride). It disables us from being able to be conduits through which God’s grace flows and He is glorified, not us. Lot’s of wonderful truth here this am. Thank you for this blessing!
Holley Gerth says
Thank you for your faithful encouragement, Bev!
God bless you Holly for sharing your humanity with us. You are so right, sometimes we just have to smile and know it will be better next time.
With a week marked with many imperfect moments, I needed to read this and be encouraged. Thank you. God knew this message of hope in the midst of my own self was what I needed. Sunday blessings to you!
Kathy Cheek, Author ~ First Breath of Morning says
So glad God’s mercies are new every morning for us imperfect and flawed humans!
Beth Williams says
Thank you for sharing your “imperfect” stories with us, being real & brave. To often people want to show their perfect” side to the public. They let their pride get in the way of allowing God to use them. We must remember I am human and God is God and both of these things are good. You are willing to allow the world to see the real, human you & we are better for that. This world needs more “mentoring” people like you telling your stories. We need to know it’s ok to not be perfect & that God can & will use “cracked pots”. Thanks for your wisdom.
Holley Gerth says
Gosh, I’ve been wanting to read this book since last year. I’m trying to catch up on my reading this summer, so yay for this reminder. 🙂 It’s good to know that even seasoned authors have those scared moments too, Holley. Thanks for being real. ♥
Holley Gerth says
Thank you for reading! XO
Holley,I appreciate your honesty in your sharing. Years back, at my Grandmother’s service, in a church filled with family, and friends, (who patiently awaited those of us who were late). as I walked down the aisle I stumbled into the reserved sign. As it fell over all eyes turned on me…..if only I could of vanished. I am so very grateful that God doesn’t expect us to be perfect in any way, because after all, we are humans.
Have a blessed day all,
This morning I drove to Walmart for their pickup service kind of beating myself up about things. I am almost 38 weeks pregnant (with two littles), in a lot of pain with contractions off and on (yet still not in “active labor”) and this week I have been so cranky! Like I kind of just want to tell anyone who tries to send me something positive and uplifting to stop and instead just lament with me that this is not fun. Lol. Then after getting home I read this… it’s ok to be human. And Lord, I am so human this week as I wait for this baby to make his debut! And it’s okay. That’s where His grace comes in.
Holley Gerth says
Oh, girl, it is extra okay to be human when you are about to give birth!! Praying for you as you get ready to welcome your little one.
Julianne Powers says
Thank you! I needed this today! I recently backed out of MC’ing for an event I’ve been planning for three weeks. I passed it off to a friend and I’ve been feeling guilty all weekend. I felt like God gave me a msg to share and it all was left unsaid. I went home and cried for an hour (even after it was a fantastic evening!). God knew I needed to hear this today. That “we’ll do better next time” includes me today! Dang fear!
Your words “So often the fear of being human makes us hold back. We don’t want to show up at the event because we might freak out right there in front of everyone. We don’t want to take the next step because we might stumble.” are just what I needed to hear. Thank you for reminding me that God can use me where I am and He can use my imperfection for His glory.
God knew I needed this today. I beat myself up so much when I mess up, and I needed this reminder.
Ada Joe says
Thanks for writing and sharing this Holly…Really inspired me tonight…God bless…xxx
Emily Susanne says
Thank you for this grace filled post! It’s so important to give ourselves room for failure. As long as we keep trying our best, God will help us. Failing can be beautiful in the lessons that it teaches us.
K Ann Guinn says
Your words, “Doing something a bit badly on the way to doing it well is just part of the package. ” are also a huge discouragement to me. Thanks for sharing your “imperfect” story with us, along with God’s perfect outcome.
Holley Gerth says
So grateful that we can all be human together. Whew. Thanks so much for being here and reading!!
Lucretia Berry says
My favorite part: “When I got home this evening I looked at my new pair of dark jeans and saw a glob of peanut butter frosting staring back at me accusingly. I rolled my eyes and headed for the bathroom where I dabbed it off with a wet washcloth. Then I looked in the mirror and said, “We’ll do better next time.””
There is something about new jeans + a frosting stain that makes me giggle! This is so relatable. Thank you for sharing.
Yes to not just being imperfect, but embracing what imperfection teaches us. Thank you for putting your imperfection out there for all to see. You inspired me today as I struggle trying to keep it all perfectly together.
Lynn Koukal says
Hi, when I read this message, I felt it refreshing and real, normally real. I also thought, “well God made us human” so he knows all about us, emotions and flaws, weaknesses, and strengths. He likes to be needed and involved in outer human side.
I often let one little mistake, one little slip-up get to me – it’s all or nothing in my mind. I don’t just make mistakes…rather, I think I am a complete and total failure because of my mistakes. But that’s a lie and the truth you shared today helped me remember that. I’m human and not perfect. But its ok because God is.
Susan G. says
I loved how this story played out. I do not speak at all, so to be thrust into something I do not see coming, and have not prepared for, I do not do well. I know and believe in “I can do ALL things through Him who gives me strength.” and I pray that the Holy Spirit will give me the words to speak as His Word says. But I have also floundered and have not “received words” when asked to suddenly pray before the whole congregation… Since these events happened years ago, I indeed have a little more courage and wisdom now, to “step up” than I did back then. And as a prayer partner who prays for any in the congregation who may need prayer after the church services, God has indeed given me words to speak and pray over someone…but sometimes I do ‘quiver’ thinking about it. 😉 God always helps us in our time of ‘need’ and ‘grows us’ as He wills.
Thanks for this Holley!
Blessings on you!
Thank you Holly. Once again you have encouraged my heart. I have been putting off answering a voicemail that my dad left me several days ago. Our relationship is not great and my fear of what may happen if I call him back is keeping me from doing so. He sounded nice and gave me no reason to think anything controversial will come up, but sometimes something does. So….I’ve been waiting to return his call until I feel strong and fearless and capable of discussing anything he may bring up. Instead I should be in prayer, relying on the Holy Spirit to help me with my humanness and be okay with a less than perfect conversation.
I’m going to return that call now, knowing that Jesus is with me and if I don’t quite say the right thing or have the perfect answer, it’s OKAY! “Doing something a bit badly on the way to doing it well is just part of the package”
Renee Ortiz says
So, my daughter and I found no problem in licking the peanut butter frosting. We would totally do the same. Our biggest concern? Where oh where is this miraculous drive though cupcake place?!!! -And just to be sure you know we didn’t miss your meaning- thanks for always pointing us in the right direction. I am thrilled that I can still have these bonding times with my college girl as we read your blog.
Becky Keife says
Holley, I just love you! And I love your unique gift at inviting us into these ordinary, hard, beautiful, teachable moments with you. Today I’m clinging to the amazing grace truth that “I am human and God is God and both of these things are good.” Amen!
Wiggle Worm says
Thank you, Holley. Thank you for the reminder that while I *can* in theory do all things through Christ who strengthens me that I don’t have to…that it is okay to say no when forced too far from my comfort zone into something that is probably such a stretch that it isn’t even good for me. And that sometimes my no to protect my heart might be something I will look back and realize I should have said yes. I am not perfect. God is perfect and I am not. I’m a lot like you – participate was my stretch goal – lead was not on the agenda…but really, saying no and not backing down is also a huge feat of bravery. I’m proud of you for recognizing perhaps you could have said yes, but I am also proud of you for standing your ground and bravely standing behind your no even when pressured to take it back. You are a beautiful person.
Francine Tournier says
God bless you for helping us all with our bravery. God’s message to Paul, “My grace is all you need.” is what we need to remember.
I love your authenticity and vulnerability Holley. You are such an inspiration to so many! To be honest I didn’t see that you messed up, whimped out or showed weakness! As a highly sensitive introvert your strength lies in thoughtful consideration and preparation with God. You made a commitment to an event and a further commitment was thrust upon you in the moment- to which you hadn’t agreed. It’s also important for others to communicate well and show respect and value to us. I think it’s imperative to do what God asks of us and if in the moment what is being expected of us is not God, we need to be strong and say no. Sometimes our yes is our moment of weakness. If our yes is coming from peer pressure, guilt, shame or pride it’s not a good yes. If in the moment you felt God nudging you to step up, to grow you, to encounter him in a different way, he would have given you the strength to overcome. If God wasn’t nudging you, then I personally believe you showed strength by remaining true and authentic to who you are and remaining committed to your understanding and acceptance of the original invitation. I think it’s possible that you showed strength by saying no!
Julie Garmon says
Love this post! And I was cringing for you.
Nancy Ruegg says
“Doing something a bit badly on the way to doing it well is just part of the package.” Amen, Holley! I have to remind myself that my mistakes and fumblings bother ME more than they bother others. They almost always offer more grace than I do for myself. What people seem to appreciate is sincerity, genuineness, and honesty–in the same way you appreciated the sincere, heartfelt prayer of that woman. Thank you for sharing your experience that affirms what we are reluctant to embrace: perfection is unnecessary and even counter-productive!
Karen Tan says
“if you can’t be an example then be a warning.” – Yes! I don’t have to have it all together, I can stumble and make mistakes and it is OK! Sometimes I feel like I can’t control my inner voice and it can be frustrating. Alexander Casavant shares a similar story in one of her books – The Voiceless Voice, definitely worth the read.