My present kindly asked my past to step aside…
If I had a dollar for every time I heard “progress not perfection” I would be a wealthy man. We hear those slogans so often but how often do we actually see the pay off on the other side. There is so much to see and hear daily that makes us feel better for the moment but has little impact on the true direction our life is taking. The feel good stuff is great but this weekend I was actually able to experience the reward in real life. It was not just a slogan anymore, it was miracle after miracle happening all around me.
Change in sobriety has been evident for me to tangibly grasp. But it seems that today I learn more from the simple than the complex. It is the joy, pain, and growth in the daily routine of life where experiences are coming alive that were just a dull blur in my past. I am finding that my present ever increasingly kindly asks my past to step aside. Yes, it is about progress not perfection but could it not be that there is also perfection in the progress. Glaring us right in the face, saying “Hello, I have missed you”.
The past three days my daughter Kamdyn was participating in her first Regional Horse Show competition. She is riding Western and English styles and as I learned these shows can make for a long 3 day grind on all involved. Once the competition began I was astonished at the competitive spirit she displayed. With the competitive streak in her mother and I, it should have come as no surprise. But I had never seen her in a competitive setting of this magnitude. Her sole focus was on getting first in each class of competition and when she did not achieve that her emotional immaturity as you might expect came out. Instinct from a clear mind and pure heart began to trot right out of my mouth.
It was just a simple exchange from a parent to a child but for me it was another recovery miracle. It wasn’t that I knew what to say to her or how to handle it with a father’s touch it was that I was there in the moment, alive and feeling it all. Feeling the disappointment streaming down her cheeks, sensing the desire in her facial expressions, were all dusting off the daddy in me that was exploding into action. There was no hidden agendas or misplaced motives it was as real as anything I had ever felt. It was a miracle of living life as God intends me to live it. The simple progress not perfection took on a miraculous revelation for me as I uttered these words in her ear, “Focus on the details and the ribbons will come.”.
Who is to say if those words had any affect on what would transpire over the weekend but as I have learned it wasn’t about me anyway. It was the simplicity in that moment of just being her father. Comforting her, wiping away the tears, and being able to encourage her. As her father I want to raise her in the way that God has purposed for her. I want her to know how to tackle the obstacles life throws at her so she can overcome in victory. I learned the hard way, lessons I am grateful for, but that I want to use so she can avoid my mistakes. A sense of purpose as her parent was the joy I was feeling. My sober perspective allowed me to see it as such and not just another parental obligation or duty.
Beginning the day at 3:30 am so we could drive to be there before the competition began. Driving the 3 hours home each night only to go straight to bed. The dust, flies, and smell of horse manure. Co-parenting with her mother and step father for the first time. Even dealing with the emotions of fear and insecurity that were trying to creep in like in my past. All of these were met with a resounding sense of serenity that only comes from being grounded through God in my recovery. The present kindly stepped in and asked my past to step aside without me even having to think.
It is progress not perfection but there is also perfection through the progress.
The weekend would wind up being such a huge success for Kamdyn. She won Reserve Champion in her age category and also placed 6th out of all riders in every class and age group in total points. The smile on her face when her name was announced was absolutely priceless. It was progress not perfection. She got better and better as the competition unfolded. She focused on the details and the ribbons came. Kamdyn opened my eyes to my own progress without even knowing it. If I keep focused on the details my ribbons will come. Ribbons no one will see and that we are not acknowledged for but mean the world to us as parents. The memories gained from just giving our time, our hearts, our love…that is our reward.
Recovery has changed my perspective and emotions and allowed me to not only just be there but to feel with her. The joy, the pride, the victory and even the defeats. I could feel it all with her and then be able to simply support and encourage her was my miracle. Love and compassion were my feelings for everything and everyone there. But I could feel, the good and the bad. I could feel and not run away but instead run towards life and be in the fight. Maybe some can never understand. Maybe some take it for granted. But for me the miracle was as simple as just “feeling”. I can find joy in everything I feel if I stay faithful and stay out of my own way. We can never be perfect but there really is perfection through the progress.