Best or Beast?

Lion 1

“I wish I were enough.”

Oh friends! Please, please make sure you take a moment to read Dana’s post today. If you have ever thought or uttered the words above Her message will resonate deeply. I know it did for me.


Type A. Perfectionist. The beaver temperament. (If you are not familiar with author Dr. Gary Smalley’s personality categorizations, that may have sounded weird.) 🙂

Those things describe me…to a large extent. I have high standards. I like things done well. And I hold no higher standard than the one I set for myself. Good is never good enough. Best is merely acceptable and always expected.

I can’t say I apologize for that completely. I raise my kids that way. I don’t want them to just get by. I want them to give their all in whatever they do.

I have a favorite quote from The Incredibles movie:

It’s psychotic! People keep coming up with new ways to celebrate mediocrity…

I feel Mr. Incredible’s frustration here, people.

We each have God-given potential. We should work toward it, always.

But here’s the thing. Over the years, the definition of “best” became a problem for this stalwart perfectionist. I mean, what is my best anyway? How do I measure it?

Can’t I always work harder?

That’s the line of thought I followed for far too many years. If it looked or felt too easy, if it wasn’t causing me anxiety or stress, if I wasn’t breaking my back, if I wasn’t maxed out—chances are I could be doing better or working harder or doing more.

So that’s what I did. More, better, harder. But where does it stop?

I can tell you where, my friends.  NOWHERE! It never, ever stops.

For me, “best” was elusive. I could never achieve it.

The result: perpetual disappointment. I was constantly letting myself down. And convinced that I was continually disappointing God. I could see Him in my mind, just the way it’s pictured in Matthew West’s song Grace Wins:

In my weakest moment I see you

Shaking your head in disgrace

I can read the disappointment

Written all over your face

That’s how I lived every day. Ever so grateful for His love and salvation, His sacrifice and forgiveness. But never grasping His grace. Unwittingly rejecting the freedom He had gifted me. Unconsciously trying to outrun, outdo, and outsmart my own sense of unworthiness. To escape the chronic shame and dissatisfaction that I had assigned myself (or that the enemy had deceived me into adopting).

And then one day, when those silent insecurities were raging inside, someone prayed over me. She looked me in the face and with smiling eyes spoke these words:

“He is so pleased with you.”


My mind reflexively argued against her declaration. Me? No. I can’t get anything right. I keep falling short. I could do better. I… I… I…

And then I stopped. That was it. That was where I had gone so wrong. Right at the “I.”

My focus had been on me. But the fact was, it wasn’t about me. It has never been about me or anything I do.

It’s all about Him and what He’s done.

And with that conscious realization came a flood of conviction and truth:

~~ He never asked me to be perfect. He died so I didn’t have to be…and because I never could be.

~~ He didn’t save me to watch me struggle for the unattainable. He saved me to set me free.

~~ He didn’t save me to shame me. He saved me to redeem me.

~~ He didn’t save me to condemn me. He saved me for His glory. And my life—my very being—brings Him glory.

He is not asking me to seek His approval. He is asking me to depend on Him. Wholly. Completely. Fully. Not to strive endlessly. But to rest in Him.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

I had been trying to love my Savior in all the wrong ways.

He never designed it to be so hard. I had been laboring, in my own power, to endear myself to the One who already held me dear. I let my best become a beast.

My tasks become my master. And all of it was never enough. I was never enough.

But, my friends, I don’t have to be. Because He is enough. His grace is enough. And through Him, I am more than I could ever hope to be.

There is no checklist that can increase my value to Him. There is no grading system that I can flaunt to impress Him. There is simply life lived out of obedience and response to His love.

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” I John 5:3 ESV

His commandments are not burdensome. Isn’t that beautiful?

As I DoAhead (and quite often FallBehind), I’m still learning to lean into grace. But I have to tell you, living in the light of His love is infinitely better than laboring under a shadow of imagined disapproval. Not because there is less to do or less effort required to do it. Not at all.

He deserves my best. And I will do the works He prepared for me, to the best of the abilities He has given me. The difference is that I am finally…slowly…

Learning to re-frame my best.

It cannot involve bullying myself into overachievement. It cannot include lamenting my inability to meet some faulty, self-assigned standard.

My best for Him must be actions and efforts that flow from a right heart.

I will no longer work and serve FOR His approval…I will work and serve BECAUSE I have His approval. And that is a motivator that kicks the burden and the beast right out of my best.

You DoAhead Friend,


(In case you need to cement this truth check out Matthew West’s song below. The rhythms will rock you…the lyrics will lift you.)

About Dana Boyd

Dana is a lifelong lover of words with a passion for sharing stories of the heart—both her own and others. Her writings draw from her experiences as a woman, a writer, a wife, a mother of three, and a Bible-believing Jesus follower. She is a defender of truth, an avid proponent of common sense and a recovering (often relapsing) perfectionist still learning to lean in to grace. Her writing is an honest outpouring of her introverted heart, driven by a longing to inspire others to feel deeply, think critically and act compassionately. Dana shares her words as a monthly contributor at DoAhead Woman.


  1. His grace is enough for me. That’s what I also keep reminding myself. Because no matter how much I try, there will always be something more to do and have.

  2. This ministered to me DEEPLY. Thank you for your words. They are a blessing to me.

  3. This is my story! The exhausting struggle of trying to be better and better and the guilt when I’m not. I call myself a recovering perfectionist. It’s amazing how easily I slide back into those perfect girl shoes! “Learning to lean on grace”! Me too! Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

  4. “I must never let my best become a beast” – very profound thought – so true!

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