At every age and every stage, this word finds a way to creep in.
It has the same effects on us – whether we are learning how to draw, ride a bike, picking out our wedding dress, holding our first child, or juggling the craziness that is parenthood or a thriving career.
Perfect. It all must be perfect.
Translation: Everything must be something that is completely unattainable. Nonexistent. And when it’s not, (and it never is) we feel like failures. Complete failures. All. The. Time.
When does this quest for perfectionism start?
Just last night, my 4-year-old son was cutting out a picture for his “homework”. He was so frustrated because he couldn’t cut the line as straight as he wanted to. He wanted it to be perfect. He was in tears.
Our daughter still hasn’t learned how to ride a bike because she wants to do it perfectly.
I get frustrated at work because of a typo or because of something that I didn’t check off of my task list. Because my work wasn’t perfect.
I think this is why we all stay so stressed out all the time. Why so many of us feel defeated. Maybe I’m just over-generalizing here, but that is how I feel 99% of the time.
Stress (or the promised solution for it) is big money – and folks are making millions on their promises to make our lives more perfect. More organized. More complete.
This quest for perfection blinds us to the wonder of life.
We learn by scraping our knees a little. Getting a little messy. Getting hurt.
I’m quitting perfect.
Before I got married, I looked forward to having this blissfully perfect relationship with my husband. To marry the person that was perfect for me. To have perfect little children and live in a perfect little house.
Maybe I wasn’t actually so hung up on perfectionism – but I really had some pretty high expectations. Dreams. Plans.
The only thing perfect about marriage is that it involves two imperfect people deciding to make a go of it. It’s a commitment that my husband and I renew over and over again.
I’m certainly not perfect. I am sure that I drive my husband nuts with my little projects that never seem to get finished and my sloppy housekeeping.
But I will tell you that I wouldn’t want to walk through life with anyone else because my husband is just right for me. Love is a choice – and we choose love each and every day.
As I said above – I am not the world’s best housekeeper. I have an army of small ones and a dog that contribute to my problem. And laundry. I really hate laundry. And dishes.
But here’s the thing – if I am focused on keeping my house perfectly organized, I miss out on the amazing Lego creation that my son just made all by himself.
I won’t get to have that conversation with my daughter that could lift both of our spirits and bind our hearts.
I’ll miss that extra snuggle and just one more book before bedtime.
Because I am at work all day long – I only have a couple of hours each night to get to know these two amazing little people who God blessed my life with. I only get them for a moment.
So I let the dishes wait. I wash the same load of clothes 3 different times because I keep forgetting to put them into the dryer. I let things slide so that my children see just how valued they are in my eyes.
I think this is the worst one. The quest to look perfect. Seriously. This is the real money maker. You could spend a fortune on looking younger. Looking skinnier. Losing weight. Having whiter teeth.
You’re telling me a big fat lie if you say that there is nothing you’d like to change about yourself.
I’ve always been short.
Things aren’t as perky as they were before I had children.
Hair grows in the strangest places. And is rapidly turning grey.
I’ve always been critical of myself – but I thought I kept those opinions largely to myself. I didn’t realize how loud my inner voice was until I began to hear it from my daughter, too.
I think she is amazing. She is beautiful. She’s so smart and talented. But she is already beginning to pick apart herself and only see her faults. Perceived faults and “less-thans”. And it breaks my heart to think what she might try to do to change what God has created in her.
What God created.
God created us to have fellowship with him. Fellowship. The only thing perfect in this entire world is his love for us.
So instead of continuing my quest for perfection, I’ve decided instead to invest in being.
Being present for my family.
Being closer to my husband.
Being healthier in mind, body, and spirit.
Being a better friend.
Being hospitable – no matter how messy the house is.
If you stop by my house – the floors will be clean-ish and there will be a place for you to sit in the den. I’ll try to offer you a bite to eat or a cup of coffee, but I can’t promise that the sink will be empty of last night’s dishes and the dining room table won’t be covered up with school papers.
We are pretty busy being a family.
So let’s ban the “p” word from our vocabulary.
One definition of “perfect” is that something is as good as it is possible to be. I can’t live like that, because from my experience with my husband, children, family and friends – life just grows and changes for the better each and every day. And that is way better than perfect.