On Spades and Release

The pace of life in Nepal is significantly slower than in the States. Before the first ray of morning sun reaches its way into our windows, we are upstairs making breakfast and coffee, soaking in the stillness of the clouds as they hover over the mountains near and far. By mid-morning, the house is full with the ladies doing chores as the children have already rushed off to school for the day. This leaves the four of us with plenty of time to do as we please until the afternoon, whether reading, replying to emails, or playing Spades.

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For some reason, it took my brain a little longer than others to grasp the logic and strategy necessary to win a game of Spades. At some point between high school and now, I’ve lost my competitive edge and would rather eat chocolate and sing songs during Spades than focus and win. Early on, however, I started to notice that whoever was partnered with me was sure to lose because only half the team was in it to win it…and I was not that half.

The desire to play perfectly and not disappoint my partner started to greatly influence me. No more chocolate. No more singing. Bid right. Count cards. Focus face. Don’t fail. We will win. We will win. We will win! And we actually did start to win. And I actually liked it! It was a rush to feel my heart beat faster as the games got closer, as my bids got tighter, as I won more and more games.

Unfortunately, my newfound longing to be perfect in Spades weighed heavily on me when we lost. My partner could see it all over my face, like the disappointment that comes when the cookies come out burnt or the State Championship is lost or the girl is rejected by the boy. I’d silently linger to lunch or dinner, telling the others my knees hurt or I was sleepy, when really I was mentally beating myself up and saying there’s no way I could be good at the game, no way I will ever be good enough for my partner, no way I can be perfect.

Finally, after one game, I had enough of it. I had lost and instead of going to dinner, I kept climbing the stairs and went to the roof of our house. I tried to hide and cry under an awning, absolutely convinced not being perfect was life’s biggest failure. After God decided I had wallowed in my self-pity long enough, He sent my sister to the roof to find me. The conversation that followed will forever be imprinted on my heart and soul as divinely spoken.

Release, my sister said. Release this weight of trying to be perfect. I love you for who you are and all the imperfections that come with you. Nothing can or will ever change that.

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I wasn’t upset because I couldn’t be perfect at Spades; I was upset because I expected myself to be perfect in friendships, in appearances, in life. I was trying to wear a jacket that didn’t fit simply because it wasn’t made for me to wear. I was trying to be somebody I’m not because I saw how others were acting and responding and wanted to be accepted for those same reasons.

Freedom comes when you choose to release. For me, this week, it was the expectation of perfection. For you, it might be something different. I ask you to be vulnerable with someone, whether it’s somebody else, yourself, or Jesus, and expose and release that which is hindering you from abundant life. Breath will flow. Strength will be restored. And the God who loves you unconditionally will gently whisper His enduring truth into your fragile soul.

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