Swapping Perfection for Contentment

Emma Timms from Dunbar shares from her heart as a mum about finding rhythms that keep us in communion with God, our families and others.

How do we find a sustainable rhythm in our spiritual life, family life, work life, friendships, health and downtime? How do we stay present to what is in front of us without getting sucked into worries, fears or a screen?

How do we give ourselves the grace and permission to try, fail and figure it out along the way?

The mirage of perfection just on the horizon has kept me feeling like a failure my whole life. Peace and contentment always just out of reach. If I can just stick with getting up at 5.30am I will have time to pray, exercise and journal. If I could just keep the house in order I wouldn’t get so stressed. If I could just check social media for only 10 minutes a day I’d be more present. If I could just eat well I’d be happier. If I could just keep everyone happy…

If, if, if… When, when, when…
Contentment and peace always just out of reach.

One of the things I’m learning is to greet the day as it comes to me and just do my best. That might sound obvious but if you’ve struggled with perfectionism you will know the relief of realising your best is good enough. Amidst endless failing, half starts and frustrations, I have actually managed to develop and sustain some simple and helpful rhythms.

It’s important to note that what works for our family probably won’t work for yours and what works for yours probably won’t work for your friend down the street. And what worked for you last year might not work this year! It’s something that needs to evolve as your life does. We all have our own challenges, work commitments and family dynamics to work with so comparison, as usual, is useless!

Here are some rhythms in our home to serve as examples and to spark imagination:

Rhythm 1. Yearly
For Jon and I, we have committed to one night away together every year since we’ve had kids. It’s become something so special and life giving to our marriage.

Rhythm 2. Monthly
Every month we have some sort of adventure as a family for a whole day, away from commitments, pressures and jobs. And every month we try to give each other some form of alone time

Rhythm 3. Weekly
Sabbath
We practise a loose form of sabbath. Saturday looks and feels different to every other day… the kids love having our attention and time and it provides opportunity for great conversations and memory-making. The busier we get the more sacred it becomes. It’s not strict or complicated – it just stops the treadmill.

For me this takes the form of cold water swimming. It brings joy, it clears the mind, I’ve made new friends, its actually good for you, its free… it ticks all the boxes. On a deeper level, its reconnecting me with something I loved as a kid and lost as an adult. I’m finding healing through it in ways I don’t even know how to write about.

Rhythm 4. Daily
The Examen
This is an ancient Ignation practice done once or twice a day as a kind of review of the movements of God in your day. There are various ways to use it but I do it right before bed. I’ve done it most nights for the last 2 years and it helps me to process daily life, practise gratitude and stop any resentments building up.

I hope these examples inspire you in your own quest for sustainable, life-giving rhythms that keep you connected to God and alive to your own heart.

If you want to read more, I write a blog for mums at www.lovinghimraisingthem.com which focuses on keeping connected to the Vine in the busyness, challenges and beauty of parenting.

Emma Timms leads Discovery Church in beautiful Dunbar alongside her husband Jon, teaches pilates, is mum to some adorable children and one happy dog and has gathered other cold-water swimmers now known as the Salty Sisters of Dunbar.

Crystal Cryer

Crystal Cryer originally hails from Oregon, but now claims Scotland as home. She is the National Coordinator for 24-7 Prayer Scotland. She is also part of the Prayer Spaces in Schools Scotland team as well as the Central Church family in Edinburgh, where she is based.