Are you exhausted trying to reach for perfection? Do you find yourself in a battle where no matter how much you do – It somehow just isn’t good enough? How about that sinking feeling inside when you pull off near perfection but feel like a fake to others?
Confession – I am a recovering perfectionist, a work in progress.
Honestly, that was even stressful to say because my car isn’t clean and my pantry is atrocious. So how could one claim to be reaching for perfect when obviously they failed before starting?
Back in our early days of church attending our well-connected friends in the church convinced us that we should host a Bible study. Our home was determined to be the best meeting location.
These were the days when looking good was pretty darn important to me. I found such worth when people commented on how well behaved my children were or how nice I kept my home.
So this was going to be a major endeavor on my part each week to get my house just perfect for guests.
Striving for excellence was my motto.
However, my family would attest I seemed to blur the lines of striving for excellence and perfection.
“Healthy striving is self-focused: “How can I improve?” Perfectionism is other-focused: “What will they think?”
― Brené Brown,
The Unexpected – One near disaster for the facade of perfection
Let me tell you about one particular night. Arriving home from work in a huff -a quick hello to the kids and off I went in a flurry. Picking up speed as I went along room to room turning items just so. In my mind, I could hear myself checking off my list. Clean towels folded correctly in the bathroom, music playing, Candles lit, just the right lights turned on, and of course, the vacuum run in the places people would see the carpet. As time began ticking things were rapidly being shoved out of sight.
Hospitality in my home was taken to another level, one I would not recommend.
Do not pretend some of you do not know what I mean, you do.
All I had to do was clean the last little bit in the kitchen and get the kids upstairs. Growling under my breath because this was such an ordeal to get things ready and my husband was once again running late or was it the madness he was trying to avoid?
Then all of sudden I heard screams from the kids. “The dog,” “the dog” as their pointer fingers, waved in the air.
And there it was – our beautiful dog running in circles; a live mouse on a sticky pad stuck to his whiskers. This mouse was squirming around trying to free itself, and the dog was eagerly trying to eat it.
Mayhem ensued at this point. I too started screaming.
This girl does not do dead mice, and she certainly doesn’t do live mice. How on earth would I get this live thing off the dog all by myself and in time before my guests would arrive?
At this point two of my three children were hysterical. One went into a life-saving mode, determined to rescue the cute little mouse. I found her attempting to pull down a glass aquarium from way up high in the garage to house the dear mouse. The other daughter was hiding in fear of the mouse. To be honest, I have no recollection of where the 3rd child was.
I could see the clock ticking as the dog ran throughout the house. Knowing the doorbell would ring soon with our guests. I screamed at the top of my lungs, and it wasn’t my “church voice.”
I growled, and I fuzzed angry at everyone especially myself. Who in their right mind hosts a Bible study when everything has to be perfect?
Was Perfection attained?
Somehow I managed to send two sobbing children to their rooms. One upset we didn’t save the mouse, and the other convinced an army of critters was heading to her room. I am sure the thirds was thinking it was all kind of cool.
Then the doorbell rang and what did I do? I opened so graciously and with the calmest of voices. I said, “Hello, how are you tonight?” “Oh, I am good too.” ” Please do come in and have a seat.” As if I didn’t have a care in the world and my home was full of peace. Outwardly, I had pulled it off, but in reality, I was just good at faking calm, cool, and collect.
Of course, it was only an illusion, and it didn’t come close to what I was feeling on the inside. I felt like a fake to our group and a failure as a mom. All of the joy was sucked right out of the house.
Plus I was exhausted trying to reach for perfection.
What does God Have in mind?
When we reach for perfection, we miss what God has in mind. We blunder the connection with others, with God, and with what really matters. These are moments we can’t ever regain.
Reaching for perfection is an illusion of our mind. It is something inside of us that says; I am not good enough, but I will keep trying. It is exhausting – reaching for something that only God has attained.
“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—” Jude 24 NIV
Are you exhausted trying to reach for perfection?
This article originally appeared at Embracing the Unexpected.