What Does Perfect Look Like?

>> Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This question was asked of me by "T" during our session yesterday morning.  It's a question that has been looming on the horizon ever since I started seeing her in January -- and one that I finally had to confront.

I'm a perfectionist.  It's all or nothing with me -- there's no in between.  If it doesn't meet my standard of perfection, then it's a failure.  (Now please keep in mind that this mind-set is just for me -- and it does not apply to my family or my kids.  This is my own personal warped  standard of thinking.....) 

I also know -- that in my logical brain - that there is no such thing as perfection.  Doing a good job?  For sure.  Perfection?  Not so much.  The only perfect thing in this world is God.

My head knows that.  But it hasn't quite communicated that to my heart.

My heart tells me -- if my husband has to help me fold laundry and unload the dishwasher, then I'm a failure as a wife.

My heart tells me -- if I don't read to my kids at bedtime or have homemade cookies baked throughout the day or get down on the floor and play with them, or I lose my temper then I'm a failure as a mother.

My heart tells me -- if I don't drop everything to accomodate a friend's need or send that birthday card or give that birthday gift, then I'm a failure as a friend.

My heart tells me -- you're a failure.

So what does PERFECT look like -- according to my standards?

The Perfect Wife:  Has a clean house for her husband.  Has a meal waiting for him.  Packs lunches for him.  Is financially responsible.  Gives in.  Keeps him happy.  Is organized and doesn't let anything fall through the cracks.  Doesn't lose her temper or fight.  Doesn't allow him to help around the house.  Attends church regularly, prays every day, and does a regular bible study.

The Perfect Mother:  Has activities planned for her kids.  Has a schedule for schooling.  Reads to her kids every single day.  Bakes cookies.  Makes lunches.  Makes her home open and inviting for her children's friends.  Doesn't discipline in anger.  Doesn't park her kids in front of Sesame Street or Sprouts.  Drops everything to play with her child when asked.  Volunteers for everything.

The Perfect Friend:  Drops everything to accomodate a friend's need -- especially if she has already done a favor for you.  Sends birthday cards, gives a gift.  Meets regularly to catch up.  Encourages, loves, and prays for her friends.  Is always there, no matter what.

Pretty warped sense of thinking, isn't it?  But this is my reality.  My vision of perfection.  Again -- the head tells me that to be all those things all the time is unrealistic.  My heart tells me that even if I do achieve that standart, it's still not enough.  It still won't be perfect.  I'll still find something wrong.

How many times have I heard:

"You are really a good person, with a good heart."  - and I don't believe it.

"You did a great job on that craft, article, dinner." - and I will still find something wrong with it.

And if I get any criticism about anything??  Oh my word -- watch out.  Because then I will do anything and everything to fix that problem and make sure that it IS right.

Needless to say -- I have a lot of work to do.  I have to find a way to live in the Happy Medium....somewhere in between.  Somewhere were it's ok to make mistakes and accept it.  Somewhere where I can accept a compliment without having to say, "Yeah, but....."  Somewhere where I can just accept myself for who I am......



Nicol September 13, 2011 at 7:40 AM  

HI it's y first time visitng! what joy...I love the title of yor blog- I know this perfection enemy too- and have found that the weapon is HUMILITY and GRACE!!!! Help!

MaryAnne September 13, 2011 at 9:26 AM  

I'm so sorry.

It's clear from your blog that you do a fantastic job in all three areas, even if your heart doesn't let you see it.

Dawn September 13, 2011 at 10:18 AM  

perfection is my enemy as well. Have you read The Pursuit of Perfect? Great book with great insights on perfectionism. I love you more than you love yourself. You are amazing and wonderful and BEATIFULLY imperfect! Hang in there!

Stephanie September 14, 2011 at 6:42 AM  

This post spoke to my heart. I strive everyday to be a Proverbs 31 wife/mother. I have three children under 6 and my husband is a soldier that works long hours and is away frequently. God has high expectations as us as Wives and mothers. However, he does not ask us to be perfect. I just always keep in mind God, husband, children and then everyone else gets taken care of when I have time. Housework is my job (I am the keeper of my home). My children have a few chores of course within reason, but I do not believe it is their responsibility to help me run the household. I want them to be children. My husband works hard so I can stay home. I do not expect him to do my tasks. He does cook occasionally when he wants to and he takes care of outside work. I know some people do not agree, but I know what the Bible says and that's all that matters to me. I love your blog and hope you can find peace with your struggle for perfection.

Jenn @ Coolest Family on the Block September 15, 2011 at 7:37 AM  

Everyone used to call me a perfectionist when I was growing up. Something must've changed. As I've gotten older, I'm just too tired to try to be perfect. And also being an all or nothing person...instead of doing everything, I do nothing! Probably not the best but there it is.

I look at things that I don't accomplish as a decision not to do it. I decided not to fold the laundry and instead I decided to do this. etc.

I don't know how this is all going to work out when the second baby gets here. It's not like I can exactly decide not to feed it or change diapers because I'd rather sleep or my daughter wants to read books. I'll have to work it out somehow.

Kelli September 15, 2011 at 4:38 PM  

Hi there! Stopping by from Titus 2 Tuesdays. I am so happy I did!! I feel like we could be sisters! OMW! This has been my battle forever, and especially recently I have become so much more aware of it, mainly because I am so obvious to my failures lately. OH, BUT GOD! He is so faithful and perfect and true! That's where I have been finding my peace lately. Thanks for sharing your heart. I am a new follower =) I am looking forward to reading more.

Far Above Rubies September 20, 2011 at 2:40 AM  

Hi, and thank you for sharing what so many of us moms go through.

It is clear that you love your family; believe that you are everything God says you are.



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