4 journal prompts for ‘Present Over Perfect’ living

Let’s talk for a minute about “perfect.” Perfect is brittle and unyielding, plastic, distant, more image than flesh. It keeps us isolated and exhausted, trying to reach some ideal that never comes. 

And so, instead: present. If perfect is plastic, present is rich, loamy soil. It’s real and tactile and something you can hold with both hands, something rich and warm. It’s the Bible with the battered cover, the journal filled with scribbled, secret dreams. It isn’t pretty, necessarily—it isn’t supposed to be. Present means we understand that the here and now is sacred, sacramental, threaded through with divinity even in its plainness. Especially in its plainness.

Present over perfect living is real over image, connecting over comparing, meaning over mania, depth over artifice. Present over perfect living is the risky and revolutionary belief that the world God has created is beautiful and valuable on its own terms and that it doesn’t need to be zhuzhed up and fancy in order to be wonderful.

Sink deeply into the world as it stands. Breathe in the smell of rain and the scuff of leaves as they scrape across driveways on windy nights. This is where life is, not in some imaginary photoshopped dreamland. Here. Now. You, just as you are. Me, just as I am. This world, just as it is. This is the good stuff. This is the best stuff there is. Perfect has nothing on truly, completely, wide-eyed, open-souled present.                                             

Journaling prompts                

What images of perfection have you been hustling for?

What is the worst that would happen if you let that perfect go? What’s the best that could happen?           

How can you choose to be present over perfect in this season, in your home, with your people?

Do you have a physical reminder to help you feel more grounded? What posture or practice could help you feel more connected and present?

Taken from Present Over Perfect Guided Journal by Shauna Niequist. Copyright © 2021 by Shauna Niequist. Used by permission of Zondervan.

Do Good:

  • Get the Present Over Perfect Guided Journal (Zondervan, 2021) by Shauna Niequist.
  • Try the guided journal prompts from Shauna Niequist in this post.
  • You may think your day is too filled to the brim for anything more…but it’s in his presence that you find rest. Where you are assured God is doing a beautiful work in you. Where you find a way to love—because he first loved you. Get inside the Caring Magazine Scripture Study Collection and find a suite of free, printable Bible studies to guide you through topics from New Beginnings Through Forgiveness, to Understanding our Imago Dei or Life Hacks From David.
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Shauna Niequist

Shauna Niequist is the New York Times bestselling author of Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet, Bread & Wine, Savor, and Present Over Perfect. She is married to Aaron, and they live in New York City with their sons, Henry and Mac.