Every Christmas, I absolutely love the idea of doing something for someone else as a family.
I knew of an older lady in our community, who was sight-impaired, and had difficulty doing housework. I decided that we would arrange to go to her house and help clean and prepare her house for the holidays.
Not only that, we’d bring over a Christmas basket full of home-baked goodies and other food items — all wrapped up in celephane and a big red bow.
Heck, maybe we’d all sing Christmas carols, too!
Guess what? It didn’t happen. None of it.
My own house wasn’t clean for Christmas, let alone anyone else’s.
I baked one batch of cookies this past holiday season — which my children promptly gobbled up.
And, besides my husband, none of us can sing.
I’m brilliant at making the possible, impossible. You know, taking an achievable goal and then finding a way to make it completely unachievable.
Let me give you a couple of examples …
My Goal: Give our bedroom a mini-makeover.
Possible Scenario: Start with cleaning the pile of clutter off my dresser. Then, tackle a different task each week until it’s done.
My Impossibly Perfect Scenario: Completely declutter the entire room, shampoo the carpet, paint it to my “dream” color and spread sweet-smelling potpourri around the room — this Saturday.
My Goal: Spend Sunday at church with my family.
Possible Scenario: Every member of the family gets to church — even if it’s not on time.
My Impossibly Perfect Scenario: Try to make everyone thrilled to be there, enraptured by heartfelt worship and bubbling over with all the divine insights they gained.
That’s right. I’m diseased.
But I’ve found a few things that have helped ease my “need for perfection” sickness:
Decide what’s important. Helping someone, setting an example for my kids — that’s what’s important. It didn’t have to be an elaborate gesture — or even at Christmastime. The opportunity didn’t expire on December 25th. If her house is anything like mine, she could probably benefit from cleaning help anytime. When I realized my plan was perfectly unrealistic, I shifted gears. Instead, each family member donated money to feed an orphan from Ecuador for a year.
Accept messy. Life isn’t neat or tidy. And I can’t control that. But I can control my reaction to it. I can become rigid and cranky and suck the joy out of every situation. Or, I can ask God to help me relax and see how He wants to work in my messy circumstances. The irony? I’m often most blessed when things don’t work out like I planned.
Pray. A number of years ago, God opened my eyes to the damage my need for perfection was doing to my relationship with my husband and children. Critical and uptight isn’t a great formula for loving interactions. God has slowly changed my heart and relaxed my soul. I’m still a work in progress and it keeps me on my knees.
We all have a need for Perfect. We need a perfect Savior. And His perfect grace. And we need His perfect plan — for our children, for our marriages and, even for each of our days. His plan may not be wrapped in celephane with a big red bow, but I trust that He will work it all out for my good — perfectly.
This is the third in a four-part series to celebrate the upcoming release of Jill Savage‘s new book, No More Perfect Moms. Here’s are the first two posts in the series in case you missed them: Are Children Reflections of our Imperfections? and The Paralyzing Effects of Perfectionism in Mothering.