Cultivate Book Blub

An Invitation to Imperfect Progress

Week 2 of Cultivate Book Club

It was a year ago, about this same time actually, that I became completely unglued. My raw emotions were off the charts. I had stuffed myself so full of them over a particular relational situation that I totally imploded. The implode was UGLY, like UGLY, ugly. AND the shrapnel was far reaching! In the moment there was a burst of relief to have gotten those feelings out, but that relief was quickly followed by an unbearable amount of embarrassment, guilt, shame, regret and relational damage. I hated how I’d behaved. I hated how I’d treated those involved. I hated how my raw emotions always got the best of me.

In the past, Matt has used a powerful analogy in his teaching in regards to becoming unglued. He, of course, didn’t use the word, but it’s the same thing. The analogy goes something like this:

~ If you shake a cup full of orange juice what will spill out?

~ Orange Juice

~ Why orange juice?

~ Because that’s what was inside of the cup.

You see, when we are shaken (or unglued), whatever is inside of us “spills out.” When I became unglued, I understood this analogy more than ever, and I was NOT okay with what had spilled out of me. In addition to the embarrassment, guilt, regret and shame that I was feeling, I also felt an enormous amount of frustration. I was frustrated, SO SO frustrated that I reacted the way I did, that I responded the way I did, that I wasn’t more spiritual, mature, kind, etc. I knew better, I know better. WHY didn’t I DO better in this situation? I was unglued, embarrassed, frustrated and then utterly defeated. Ugh~ the defeat was the worst of it! Actually, no it wasn’t… it was ALL the worst of it. This is why being REAL with self is SOOOO important.

Luke 6:45 says, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”  

I want what comes out of me to be a reflection of WHO is in me, even when I’m coming unglued.

I’ll try to make a long (and very personal) story short for you. A decade ago (I know, ridiculous right?!… but apparently I forgive but don’t forget– okay who are we kidding, I don’t do either of them) I had a situation with one of my best friends. It all seems so ridiculous now and I’m embarrassed to even share, but for your sake, I’ll share my ridiculousness with you to help you feel better about who you are. OK… back to story. So one of my best friends made a new friend. I felt replaced, forgotten and unimportant. To top it off, the friend who I’d felt was my replacement was also one of my close friends. It was this funky friend triangle, except, I actually felt like the third wheel or the “ex”. Instead of being real about how I felt or asking clarifying questions, I made lots of assumptions, stuffed lots of anger, jealousy and resentment, and believed lots of lies about the situation. This all was the perfect fertilizer to nourish deep, deep roots of bitterness. Well, those roots eventually outgrew the pot (me being the pot) and everything shattered. Instead of letting my emotions become indicators that I wasn’t ok, they became dictators for how I thought, acted, responded, behaved and believed about the people involved. It was bad and messy and people were hurt. To be completely real with you, some of the relationships have barely survived. By the grace of God and others, all has not been lost, but it’s been a rough road. My ungluedness (just created a word there) not only hurt me, but really (LIKE REALLY, really) hurt others. And I don’t want to ever hurt others like that again. It’s just not who I want to be.

One of the things that I hated most about this situation was that a decade had gone by and I was still unglued about the exact same situation. A DECADE people. Like 10 years of my life and I’d not made any progress. This realization just tore me up! And SO… I’ve made a promise to myself that in one year from now I may not be where I want to be, but that I WILL NOT BE where I was. Progress, I will make progress.

That is what I love about this book, the idea of imperfect progress. It has given me freedom to not be perfect in my journey. It has given me new language to interject into my thought-life. When I am thinking “Ugh, I blew it again, why didn’t I handle that perfectly? What is wrong with me? I’m the worst woman, friend, mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, leader, pastor’s wife ever.” I NOW throw into mix, “I’m not aiming to be perfect, but to make progress.” It’s a very disarming practice when I start down the road of self loathing and condemnation. It helps me take captive my very negative thoughts.

For the next 8 weeks we are not seeking perfection, but progress. AND because we are imperfect, that progress is going to be imperfect. And that’s OK! We’re not going to seek or hold ourselves accountable for instant change or try to create quick fixes to handle our raw emotions. We’re also not going to hold ourselves as the sum total of every time in the past we’ve blown it and become totally unglued. Instead, we are going to cultivate and nurture imperfect progress regarding how we handle our raw emotions. We’re doing this for us! Not to impress or satisfy who or what anyone else thinks we should be, but because of who we want to be for ourselves and in our relationship with Jesus. God gave us our emotions and so it is unrealistic and ridiculous to expect to not have them or to dismiss them. I love how Lysa says they are signals as to what is going on. They let us experience deep joy and love. They are also indicators for us as to when things are not ok, like touching a hot stove signals us to pull back, our emotions can also be protecting us from things and relationships that are not good or safe for us. We’re going to seek progress in having our raw emotions be indicators but not dictators for how we think, feel and behave.

Psalms 19:14 says, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”

Let this be our prayer over this time together, that the words we speak (to others AND to ourselves) be pleasing to the Lord. Here’s the best news: “He who has began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it.” We might not be where we want to be, but we don’t have to stay where we are. Let’s make it our goal to make progress, as imperfect as it might be.



Personal Journal Experience

In lieu of our onsite meeting this week, carve out some time and a quiet space to reflect on and complete the following journal questions.

  1. What does coming unglued look like for you?
  2. Think of the last time you came unglued? What emotions are attached to the experience?
    1. Are you harboring any unforgiveness or bitterness towards others because of the experience?
    2. Are you harboring any unforgiveness or bitterness towards yourself because of the experience?
    3. Spend a few minutes being real with God in prayer about the experience. Ask God where forgiveness needs to be found, from Him to you, from you to others, from you to you? Are there any next steps you can take to bring closure and peace to the situation?
  3. Pertaining to your raw emotions, take a moment to think about the changes you want to make in regards to cultivating imperfect progress.
    1. What would progress look like for you?
    2. What is your goal? What do you want your “new normal” to look like? Write a small sentence or statement articulating your goals.

For example:

I would like it to be normal that….

I choose not to raise my voice when I get upset.

I acknowledge what I’m feeling instead of stuffing it.

I make it through a day without regretting how I treat someone.

I give myself space to pray & process before I react & respond

I ask myself what my emotions are indicating to me


Philippians 1:6 says, “God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that He won’t stop before it is complete on the day Christ Jesus returns.”

Close out your time completing this prayer:

Lord, thank you for releasing me from the weight of the past and for giving me hope that things can be different. Today I especially need hope for…

Thank you for the promise that you have begun a good work in me, and that you won’t stop until You complete it. This gives me hope! Amen.

*journal questions inspired by Lysa Terkeurst’s Unglued participants guide

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1 Comment

  • Reply Cheralyn Nichols April 8, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Thank you Tammy for sharing your heart with us. It is so comforting to hear your story and know that I am not the only one who struggles with this. I can relate to the ungludness in my own heart that has overflowed into the lives of others, specifically my husband and kids. It is an ugliness I don’t want to see anymore either. It was just a couple of months ago that God showed me that I was hanging onto baggage from my teenage days that I needed to let go of. I didn’t even realize I was carrying all that junk. It was something your husband said in one of the debriefs…something his mentor told him..and the Holy Spirit brought my stuff to mind and told me to let it go, that I had been forgiven. That totally changed my mind (Romans 12:2). I might wonder why I hadn’t recognized that earlier, but Gods timing is perfect! And there has been a change in my “pistivity” level that has been so peaceful for me and my family. Thank you Jesus for imperfect progress that moves us forward.

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