Letting Go Of Perfectionism
We all have those areas where we need to be stretched. For some maybe they need to find ways to be more confident. For others they need to be stretched and challenged in their work so as not to become complacent. Adding a new baby stretches people, getting married and living with a new person stretches people, and in my current case... adding a puppy to a perfectionist's home stretches me.
I knew months ago that I was going to write this post. Not because it's been four or five days and I'm going to pull my hair out (he's not even shedding and he's been really, a pretty good little pup), but because it's an adjustment for the bubble I've created in our home. A clean, quiet bubble with no dirt clumps or carpet stains or unsavory smells. That's going to change, and I have to change with it.
It doesn't mean letting go of my already cleanly habits entirely, but it means taking things a notch or two down on my perfectionism spectrum. It means making room for messes that are made by a little creature that brings me joy. It's not going to be easy, and for any perfectionist out there, letting go of such habits is a serious challenge. Here are some things I'm going to keep in mind to redefine what "perfect" is to me. Not just in the case of our new puppy, but in my perfectionist nature as a whole.
Remember that God is in the messes too.
Have you heard this phrase? I've heard it several times lately, and the timing has always been just right. It's a simple statement, but think about it. Does God only meet us when our counters are clean and our beds are made? Does He only meet us when clothes are folded or cars are detailed? No. Of course not. His Word is there in the pile of laundry on the living room floor. We can pray for patience amidst the puppy accidents on the rug, and we can do devotions with our loved ones before we say goodnight in a room strewn with shoes, towels, and dirty socks. My house doesn't need to be perfect for God... so why does it need to be such a high standard of perfect at all?
Can your incessant perfectionism make the sweeter things less sweet?
We have a puppy! Of course I'm completely thrilled and overjoyed beyond belief, but does my need to vacuum very crumb off the carpet to keep things "how I like them," take away from this precious puppy-hood? It might. It's easy to justify by calling it upkeep or "for my sanity," but it's just a justification for not being able to let go of my perfectionism. Am I saying I should let my whole house go to rot? No, but the "freak" in my clean-freak nature may need to take a backseat so it doesn't sour the sweet things.
That's just one example though. Think of when you put some of your perfectionist tendencies before your children, spouse, or friends. Maybe you're a perfectionist with your work and it makes you a workaholic with little time to give your family. Before we know it, perfectionism can creep in and ruin even the sweetest things.
I'm not actually in control.
Sometimes I think perfectionism comes from a need to control. In a positive sense, it can give you a feeling of consistency when everything else seems to be out of whack. However, it can also give you a false sense of control. As much as I like to think I keep our home (as an example) in tip-top shape, things will still go awry because that's life. Roofs eventually need re-shingling - no matter how well you care for them, leaks in plumbing can occur, and carpet gets ruined.
Do you sometimes find yourself thinking your actual life plan should go one way and then... it doesn't? No matter how often you "play by the rules" or supposedly do everything right, you're not actually in control. God is. There are no better hands for my life to be in, so why stomp my foot and get upset when it doesn't? God doesn't make mistakes. But we do. Let go of the control and trust.
Leaving room for imperfection, leaves room for grace.
We all need grace. I've talked about it many times on this little space, but the truth is, I'm not always that good at giving grace, even though it's given to me so freely by my Savior. When my husband makes the same annoying (but pithy) mistake over and over, my grace starts to run dry. But with God, graces abounds... so where does mine disappear to? I'm not saying you leave room to purposefully sin, but to realize that mistakes are inevitable, life isn't perfect, and grace can offer so much freedom and practice in forgiveness, that imperfection shouldn't cause fear.
These are just a few things I hope to keep in mind in the coming months as we move forward and our "bubble" changes. Over the last four years, since Tom and I got married, we've experienced all sorts of changes to the plan we had envisioned, but... we've survived 100% of the curves in our path. With our feet firmly rooted in Christ, I know that letting go of perfectionism will undoubtedly yield good fruit. Even if it takes me a long time (which it will), I endeavor to find beauty and rest in the mess.