Perfect, just perfect

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

I’ll just be straight up, because that is generally the way I am.

I struggle with perfectionism. BIG TIME.

I read a really awesome book about it called Perfecting Ourselves to Death: The Pursuit of Excellence and the Perils of Perfectionism by Richard Winter. (My  husband gave it to me after hearing the author on Focus on the Family.) If you struggle with perfectionism, even a teeny bit, or have a friend who’s really off their rocker, I highly recommend reading this! It will give you insight into why you, errr, I mean your friend, acts so weird and gets to mad at themselves for not achieving SUPERMOM status, and offers practical guidance to realign your thoughts with sound biblical ones.

I guess you could say I am a recovering perfectionist, laying my sinful and prideful tendencies sometimes moment by moment before the Lord

Like the other day, for instance. I planned in my head to take my kids to a playdate (which I am sloooowly starting to get used to the idea that playdates are good for the kids and that I should be more social instead of just getting my household to do list crossed off). I planned, of course, for them to nap for 2-3 hours while I prepped the house for friends to come over for dinner. I already relinquished dinner and told everyone that I was ordering pizza instead of cooking something. Fellowship and pizza is ok right?

But the little angels did not nap. They screeched all afternoon, necessitating multiple trips up and down the stairs, tucking back in, changing diapers, nursing, ugh! And the house is not squeaky clean.  And my friends that were coming over? Their houses are ALWAYS spotless when we come over. I got the toilets done and did a shoddy job mopping up the salt/mud/snow prints everywhere, but the place was no Pottery Barn catalog.

And Pottery Barn is what I sinfully crave. Not the store exactly, but that perfect, clean, beautiful, restful look. You know what I mean?

See, perfectionism is seductive. Very seductive. Sneaky too. Masquereding itself as just “trying to be the best I can be”, “giving my family the very best”, “reach for the stars,” and all those other one-liners that sell.

Motherhood is the master guilt trip and it is here that the negative aspects of perfectionism can really rear it’s ugly head. Everybody always thinks that EVERYBODY else is doing it better than you are. That the grass is greener on the other side. That other people’s toilets are cleaner, their to-do list more manageable, their children more obedient, yada yada yada. You should be doing a better job than you are doing. You must be perfect, or your children are missing out/being ruined/ will grow up to be less than they could be. And then you will be labeled publicly as you have always feared : a failure.

Stress. Pressure. Self-inflicted guilt. Unrealistic expectations. Failure. Pain. Sorrow.

But!!!!

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.

When you are really honest with a friend, those myths of perfectionism fade away.  You’re not alone in the struggles you have.

And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Any other perfectionists out there? That are willing to admit it? What are your ways out?


 

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2 responses to “Perfect, just perfect

  1. for quite a while I wouldn’t invite people ove rcause my house was no Home and Garden photoshoot. for the record I am a crappy housekeeper. I can clean, but I work fulltime and when will I find time to do the perfect house. I slowly realized that my friends don’t care if there is a pile of books I want to read on the dining room table. Or the knitting books on the coffee table. Or the WIP basket overflowing….My friends want to se me and they know what I am doing.

  2. Well, Dana – you know all too well that I am a perfectionist……so much so that I have titled myself a “self-proclaimed obsessive-compulsive, anal-retentive perfectionist.” Motherhood has taught me a lot. I have chosen to embrace the fact that it is more important to spend time with my daughter each and every day (especially since I am currently a working Mommy) than to spend my time scrubbing floors, cleaning toilets, vacuuming, etc. I know those things need to be done but not at the expense of the valuable, precious time with Grace that goes by all too quickly and that I can never reclaim. It’s an uphill battle, day in and day out. I am constantly “robbing Peter to pay Paul” in regards to time. Grading papers means I’m not cleaning. Cleaning the house means I’m not spending time with Grace. Spending time with Grace means I’m not cleaning or grading. I am learning and I am eager to find an opportunity to read the book you highlighted. =)

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