I grew up loving sport. You name it, I tried to play it. School teams, after school clubs, weekends. Sport began to take over my life.

Initially it was something that was so enjoyable, fun and life giving. But gradually it became a problem. It became a problem because it became an obsession. The obsession was to win, to do well and the environment was so competitive that although I didn’t see it at the time, all of the initial joy and wonder was seeping out of what I did. In a few short years I went from overplaying sport to giving it up almost altogether. I look back now and recognise that a big driver of why I did that was to gain a sense of acceptance, of being valued and loved, when in reality I did not need to do any of that to know that and live out of that identity.

There seems to be such a value in being able to progress in something but to retain that wonder, that child like quality of being engaged in something but really enjoying it, to keep it as a labour of love and not lose the joy.

Now, I am not naive. Progressing in something is a very human, natural thing. It’s a good thing, but progressing well, out of the right motive and motivation in a way that is filled with grace, inspiration and joy seems far more healthy and life giving and ultimately sustainable. I am learning the ways of grace, joy and sustainability are vital if we are to be in something (being a disciple, living out a calling, being a parent) for the long but brilliant journey ahead. In order to do that I now believe that we need to know deeply and operate from our true identity. An identity that we are loved, made in the image of God, that we are of infinite value and worth as we are and we can do nothing to change that!

Brene Brown has written two very important books that hold this tension between enjoyment and competition brilliantly. Daring Greatly is the practical outworking of her research around vulnerability. Its summed up so well in this amazing talk. The other book is the Gift of Imperfection and how we can be free to embrace, celebrate and be set free from the drive for perfection and instead live well with who we are and what we are becoming.

May we indeed dare greatly, with grace and be free to embrace our imperfections, failings and to learn from them to give us heart as we keep on journeying into the future with hope.

*This is a guest post. Matt Currey loves life, his wife and his children. Lives in Southall, works for Tearfund and also loves curry (the food). Music, good beer and community are also important to him.