I walked in the door and was shockingly reminded of the mess I had left behind…
Dust footprints now on the wood floor that was mopped just two days ago,
Laundry begging to be started,
A mess all over the kitchen counter…cereal bowls, crayons, toys…
Nothing but peanut butter in the pantry for lunch,
Toys askew that had been put away just last night,
And a full mommy-to-do list awaiting me.
I walked, stepping over it all…moping and grumbling under my breath…refusing to count gifts in this moment of today, and instead choosing to feel resentful in defense of my sorry, mess-surrounded self.
And it’s no surprise to you, to admit that I definitely have perfectionistic tendencies (and I’m guessing I’m not alone).
I have lots of daily thoughts and aspirations…
I should have my house be clean and uncluttered, with dust-free and crumb-free floors.
Toys should be in their appropriate and assigned locations.
Laundry should be done by me, and put away neatly.
I should have a kitchen with plentiful amounts of groceries available, and freezer meals stored and ready.
I should cook every night.
I should read fun books aloud, and sit lingeringly, playing games.
I should cheerfully chauffeur everyone around.
I should buy only things on sale and use coupons for most of them.
I should respond with soft tones of kindness, no matter what the irritation evokes.
I should dress attractively at all times, and throw out the cozy sleep-shirt that has long-ago worn out its welcome.
I should be seductively ready and available at a moment’s notice, and I should leave love notes and luring texts and steamy voice messages on a regular basis.
I should be able to meet multiple demands from multiple children simultaneously.
And I should make scheduled time for girlfriends on a regular basis.
And I say to my crazy-perfectionistic self…really?
Could I ever possibly be all that?
And who really ever said I have to be?
Isn’t this just reflective of my idealistic-out-of-touch standards?
And what is it about me that finds the need to set the standard so high?
Could it be that if I lower the standard to a more realistic and achievable level, that I’d still come up short in some way?
And could it be that it is more emotionally acceptable to fail to meet an impossible standard, than to fail to meet a reachable one?
And none of us is perfect.
And since when did that become the goal anyway?
And really, isn’t that the very reason why He came, because we mess up, and we blow it, and none of us is perfect?
And this need for idealism and this quest for perfection…
Don’t they actually imply, or at least suggest, that His sacrifice was unnecessary?
Don’t they actually imply that if I was everything I should be, that His sacrifice wouldn’t really have been needed?
And in my self-absorbed-perfectionistic tendencies, I am actually devaluing my Savior and Lord.
And in my quest for perfection, I end up lacking the kind of joy I could know.
A joy that comes by accepting that I am, and will always be imperfect,
By instead, acknowledging my complete dependence on Him.
By validating the mercy and grace He has given, and the price He paid for me, by choosing to surrender to Him.
And by caring more about how I behave as a representative of Him as I am moving toward my goals, and less about the end-result of whether I get things perfect.
And so does that mean I shouldn’t set goals, or strive to accomplish?
It is not the goal that is the problem, but me as the goal-setter…
May I lay down my fear of failure, my self-absorbed crazy perfectionistic goals, and instead, set more realistic ones, and in the process of my effort to meet them, may I surrender to Him who has come to save me and set me free.
May I surrender to His work in me…to the cultivation of my character in the midst of goals.
For His desire is for my sanctification, my holiness…for my growth in Him…not in my attaining of perfection.
And even after I have suffered a while, as I strive to meet even realistic goals, He promises to strengthen, confirm, establish and perfect me…as I choose to pursue the ultimate goal of becoming more like Him.
May I surrender my whole self and run toward Him in every moment, pursuing holiness amidst the goals, and exchanging the perfectionistic tendencies and self-condemnation for joy, is my prayer.
Do you struggle with perfectionistic tendencies?