I was inspired to this goal by Olivia Perez-Breland who posted one day on Facebook that she’d accomplished the feat without actually meaning to. She was in the gym doing modified push-ups, when she noticed how easy it had become for her. So after ten or so, she decided to try a regulation push-up and sure enough, she could do it. In fact, she did several.
I thought, well … if she can, I can. Never mind the fact that she’s 20 years younger than me; let’s do this! I started focusing on modified push-ups and made them part of my daily work-out. I kept it up, and over time I noticed I could do more than when I first started. It was getting easier. I made it a goal to be able to do one regulation push-up by the end of the year, and I have been working at that goal for months.
Because I am writing a message this week on the habits of joyful people — one of which is an ability to focus on progress not perfection — I wanted so badly to make one push-up happen before Sunday. I wanted to be able to end my message by showing my people how a focus on progress (not perfection) yields results. I wanted to be able to tell this story, of working toward something for months, then end with the remarkable news that I’d met my goal. “See! I did it! The repetition of a discipline yields results!”
And then, I even fantasized about dropping and giving them one.
All for Jesus, of course.
It didn’t happen. I am still not physically capable of even one regulation push-up. After months of trying — not even one! In fact, I’ve now revised my goal from doing one push-up by the end of the year to doing one push-up before I die.
It won’t happen by Sunday, but what I can do today is fifteen more modified push-ups than I could do three months ago. Which means that even if I’m not where I want to be, at least I’m not where I was. Which is the point.
Progress, not perfection.
What places in your spiritual life could you point to and say, “I’m not where I want to be, but at least I’m not where I was”? And what disciplines are helping you get there? In what places are you frustrating yourself by focusing more on perfection than on simply making progress? How would a shift toward making progress help you better understand and embrace the concept of grace?