Why you should give — and receive — just ‘2 percent more’
The night before writing this editor’s letter, I video chatted with three of my longtime friends. Brittany and Ryan live in California, Jared’s in Arkansas, and I’m here in Jackson.
These are friends I can be myself with. I’ve known Jared since middle-school cotillion, where we learned the foxtrot and the fact that we were not at the top of the social ladder. I’ve known Ryan since he was the tallest boy in my eighth-grade English class. And I’ve known Brittany since her wee seventh-grade self would outrun me, a ninth-grader, at every cross-country meet.
Now we’re all in our 30s and we’re still friends, though we don’t talk nearly as often as we’d like. But we usually pick up right where we left off. Brittany, Ryan and Jared have huge hearts for Christ, and I always love life a little more after talking with them.
But during our video chat, as they told me about tough situations in their lives that could use prayer, I almost didn’t share my own prayer request.
Then I remembered a principle from a book called “Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts,” by Jennie Allen. One thing Jennie says is that, if we really want our friendships to grow us in Christ, we shouldn’t be afraid to reveal that “extra 2 percent” of ourselves that we hold back in fear of judgment.
Actually, I wasn’t worried about being judged. I feared revealing my prayer request because I thought my friends might tell me to do something about it. And I didn’t want to.
After I finally told them what was on my heart, they didn’t give me any action steps. But just talking about it made me want to seek the Lord more, and He nudged me in the right direction. I did what I needed to do, and it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Often, saying something out loud to another person helps goad us into action more than chewing on it alone. That’s one good reason to reveal the “extra 2 percent” to believers we trust.
I think the 2-percent principle can apply to more than conversation. For instance, as the COVID-19 “rules” loosen and businesses reopen, my precautions have slackened. I still wear a mask into Kroger; I’m still working from home and not socializing quite as much as I’d like; but I’m not washing my hands as often as I was in the beginning. I think I might try to do “2 percent more” and get back into the handwashing routine. It’s not hard — it’s just 2 percent more.
On the other hand, in some areas of my life, I probably could use 2 percent more grace. I used to hate it when my friend Ally said, “Cut yourself some slack.” To me, it sounded like she was telling me not to care. But she saw what I couldn’t: that I wanted everything to be right-this-second perfect, and when it wasn’t, I flipped. I spent a lot of effort trying and failing to measure up — instead of accepting where I was and accepting God’s grace to keep going, since I have already been perfected in Christ (Hebrews 10:8-14).
Whether you need to receive 2 percent more grace or give 2 percent more effort, we often need correction. Following Jesus is sort of like learning to drive: At first, every time you see yourself drifting right or left, you jerk the wheel the other direction, then back again. You overcorrect. Then you start realizing what the steering wheel is capable of, and your corrections get smaller. Can you see your corrections getting smaller as you mature in faith?
Just remember, our perfection is complete in Christ if we put our trust in Him. And He will never steer us wrong!
‘Must-reads’ this month
• Our feature on local nonprofit Shower Power.
• Our cover story on Stan Buckley’s journey from pastoring First Baptist Jackson to starting But God Ministries.
• Our Living My Call Q&A with Sara Schmidt, who helps families coordinate long-term care for loved ones.