Why You Don’t Have to Be on the “Nice” List this Christmas

Life is not about perfection - it's about growth! #CoffeeForYourHeart via HolleyGerth.com http://holleygerth.com/free-words/

{my images are free goodies for you to enjoy & share}

It’s the time of year when we talk about being on the “naughty” or “nice” list. For most of us, Nice = Perfect. And we don’t just pursue it at Christmas, we try to get it all right all year. That’s exhausting. Not to mention impossible. And God has a better way for us to live.

I’ve learned this the hard way because I know Perfectionism well. Let’s call her “Ms. P” for short.

She showed up in my life somewhere in the middle of elementary school and decided to stick around. Do you know her too?

Oh, on the outside she’s prim and proper. But beneath all that she’s a bossy, inconsiderate, joy-stealing, lie-telling, impossible-to-please taskmaster who’s never satisfied. She doesn’t play well with others. I don’t know why I kept her around for so long. I tried to get her to leave a few times, but she always came back — until I found some truth that finally sent her packing.

You see, Ms. P liked to quote a verse to me (no surprise there — the devil did it when he tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness). Her favorite Scripture was, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5: 48). Every time I heard those words, I thought about how I was falling short and must try harder.

But I finally decided to look a little closer at what that verse might really mean. I looked for other verses that used the word perfect. Lo and behold, look what was hiding in Hebrews: “By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (10: 14).

What? I’ve already been made perfect? I thought at first my Bible might have a typo. But it turns out it’s true. I’ve already been made perfect. And so have you.

Here’s how it works: There’s only One who is perfect. To be perfect, I’d have to be Him. But wait —“ I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2: 20). When I gave my life to Jesus, He gave His to me too. In God’s eyes, I’m as perfect as Christ. All that sin? It’s settled once and for all. Whew. Jesus shows Ms. P to the door and says, “I’ll take it from here.”

Also, the Hebrew word for “perfect” is different than our typical Western definition. It actually speaks more to the concept of being “complete” and how we are all we need to be in Christ.

Does that mean we’re off the hook and can do whatever we want? Nope, that’s where the second part of the verse from Hebrews comes in. We’ve been made perfect — check — but we’re still in the process of being made holy.

God’s goal in our lives is growth.

So what’s the difference between growth and “perfection”?

Perfectionism is all or nothing.

Growth is little by little.

Perfectionism is all about the goal.

Growth is more about the journey.

Perfectionism is about outward appearances.

Growth is about what happens on the inside.

Perfectionism is about what we do.

Growth is about who we’re becoming.

Take a deep breath and know that you don’t have to be perfect, friend. You have a Savior who loves you–and over a lifetime He will help you grow to become more like Him.

It’s time to shred the nice list.



Holley Gerth



More encouragement like this: You’re Already Amazing

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Welcome to the Coffee for Your Heart weekly link-up! You’re an encourager so I’m asking you to pour out a little love with your words every Wednesday {link-up goes live at 5:30am CST}. Simply write an encouraging blog post and then share it here. Don’t have a blog? You can still write an encouraging comment. If you’re reading this by email, go to holleygerth.com to see all the fun and join in too.

Pretty please use this button in your blog post so others can easily join in with us {html code in right sidebar}. And when you link up your post, take a moment to leave an encouraging comment on the one that’s linked up just before yours. Thanks, friends!


I’m having Coffee For Your Heart with my friend Holley Gerth

{click to tweet}

Celebrating Mamas

Can I tell you a secret?

I am in awe of mothers.

The hand-holding, brow-wiping, life-changing women of the world.

{all the images I create are yours to use, enjoy and share however you’d like}

I love how mothers create, bring life into the world, nourish souls, tie the shoelaces of the future.

I love how they wrestle about where to send kids to school, and what to get for Christmas, and how to take the seed of a life and grow it into strong, tall faith.

I love the way they laugh about too much poop and mountains of laundry and the beautiful chaos that they somehow keep spinning in orbit.

I love how time etches memories across their faces, like little lines in an extraordinary story, and the way their eyes light up when someday someone calls them, “Grandma.”

I love how they throw their arm in front of you at a sudden stop in the car even if you’re not their child, even when their hair is silver, even when nursing and diapers feel like so many moons ago.

I love how even women without children {I’m one} somehow feel the need to nurture, to grow, to pour themselves into the next generation like so much water that just never stops. Mothers of the heart if not the body.

I don’t know where you are this morning but I wish I could cup your face in my hands and whisper this, “You are a good mother. You are making a difference. You are beautiful.”

Then I’d drop my hands and smile at you. And in a moment you’d be busy again doing what you do and I’d watch the miracle.

The miracle of motherhood.

The ordinary-extraordinary.

The divine with a little dirt under its nails.

Jill Churchill said: “There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”

And with all of you mother-wonders out there?

I don’t think I’ll ever stop counting.

DaySpring Mother's Day by Holley Gerth

Happy Mama’s Day!


Holley Gerth

p.s. In case you missed it…I’m celebrating Mother’s Day for the first time this year.  And my adopted daughter Lovelle wrote a post too.

SurprisedbyMotherhood_3D_400x480Whether you are a mother, have a mother or know a mother…you need to read the words on the pages of Surprised by Motherhood, a new book by Lisa-Jo Baker. You and the women in your life will laugh, cry and be encouraged too. This is one of my favorite books ever. And Lisa-Jo is giving away two copies for Mother’s Day to you! Just leave a comment by midnight CST on Thursday and you’ll be entered. And there’s still time to send the e-book version to a Mama in your life today!


* I’m taking an online break until May 21 to be with family! We will still have the Coffee for Your Heart link-up on Wednesday and my friend Jennifer Watson will be your fabulous hostess. *

What You Can Do with that Gift You Didn’t Want

Gift by Droid Gingerbread

You look at the pretty package in front of you. You undo the bow with care. You lift the lid with anticipation and…

It’s a neon orange reindeer sweater with blinking antlers!

Yessss. Just what you always wanted. Or not. Ladies, we know what to do when this happens to us. We return, regift, repurpose. But when it comes to the words our hearts get from others we’re not quite as quick to do so. So let’s change that this Christmas and new year.

Picture this: You look around the room and see familiar faces. You walk into a conversation with care. You open your ears with anticipation and…

Words are directed at you from someone that are not what you wanted at all.

Maybe they’re said with good intentions. Or maybe they’re spoken to intentionally get to you. Maybe they just sound like they should have been said to someone else. No matter the motive, we still tend to receive those words and carry them around in our hearts. But, Friends, words are gifts too and just like the reindeer sweater you can choose what you do with them:

Regift: Maybe the words offered you an opportunity that just isn’t a fit for you but someone else would love. Just think, “My friend loves orange and taking care of thousands of two year olds. I can tell her about volunteering in the nursery and the kids will love this sweather.”

Repurpose: Those words might have been intended as a back-handed criticism but you can get your creative self in gear and switch them around. Great Aunt Sandra says, “I knitted this in orange for you because it reminds me of that time you spent in prison.” And you twist that right around and say, “God has brought me a long way! Woo-hoo!” And then you cut that sweater into a million pieces and make it into a wreath.

Return: Some words do not even deserve a place in your life for a minute. So you can just picture yourself marching them back to the counter of where that person probably got them {um, the devil}. Tell your heart, “You do not have to accept that today.” Then give yourself some truth instead.

You may not be able to control what you’re given in life. But you can decide what your heart will keep. And that makes all the difference. The reindeer sweater doesn’t have to gather dust in the corner of your closet for the next ten years. And the words others try to give you don’t have to hang around in the corners of your heart either. No, ma’am.

Give encouraging words.

Receive encouraging words.

And no matter how much you’re tempted…no neon orange reindeer sweaters this year.



Holley Gerth

photo by Droid Gingerbread