To the Mother Who Aches for Perfection

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

To the mother who aches for perfection;
To the woman overcome with anxiety, 
I'm here with you; you're not alone. In this Pinterest-perfect and Instagram-worthy, social media saturated world, the weight of perfection can be crushing. It might surprise you to hear that I struggle with this because if you took one glance around my house, you would find it entirely imperfect - probably messier than your own. You might see this mess and think I don't care, but it's funny because it's actually messy because I am obsessing over perfection in other areas that you might not ever see. This type of anxiety looks different for everyone.
For me, it looks like obsessing over building the perfect website, creating the perfect social media feed, hosting perfectplaydates, finding the perfect diaper bag, being the perfect friend, writing and journaling perfectly in the perfectjournal, planner, or journaling Bible. I want to choose the perfect penance for Lent and stick to it perfectly.   

BUT PERFECT IS A LIE.

The truth is that perfection is unattainable in this lifetime and for my human nature. I will never find the perfect diaper bag. I will never build the perfect website. I will never be the perfect mom, wife, Christian that I dream of being.

GOD ALONE IS TRULY PERFECT.

To strive to become like Christ is noble, virtuous, and beautiful. But to ache and torture ourselves for some sort of vague concept of perfection is unhealthy. 
If you are struggling, if you are beating yourself up or running on empty for the sake of an unattainable perfection, I'm here with you. And I am learning that I am going to be okay, imperfectly. It is likely something I will struggle with for my entire earthly life, and something I pray I don't pass it along to my children. I don't have all the answers, I'm not a doctor or therapist, but I'm a friend and if you, too, carry this cross - let's walk together. 
But take heart, because as daughters of God we are beautiful, we are blessed, cherished, valued, protected, wanted, washed clean, rescued, and more loved than we could ever fathom. And this love is not conditional; no matter how many times we mess up or fail, His love will never leave us. 
I wanted to share with you some of the ugly thoughts that sometimes cloud my mind, and I want you to know that these are all lies. Every single one of them. The sooner we can recognize that these are not true, that perfection is not an option, the sooner we will be able to heal and move forward. 

LIES PERFECTIONISM TELLS ME  

  • Once you get it just right, you will be happy -- you will be happy. 
  • When it is perfect, you will be content forever.
  • Once it's perfect, people will like you (or, you'll become popular); people do not like you very much because you aren't quite perfect yet. 
  • There is a secret method to achieve perfection that you haven't figured out (yet it is attainable).  
  • You don't know what perfection looks like, but you'll know it once you see it. 
  • You need to start over and try again; the whole thing is worthless. 
  • Just keep tweaking it - it will all fall into place soon enough.
  • Maybe it isn't working because you don't have the right tools (so you should go buy them).
  • The quest for perfection is noble/desirable/virtuous. 
  • Achieving this perfection is of the utmost importance.
  • The reason you are unsuccessful is because you haven't perfected your technique/work/output. 
  • You will be glad you stayed up for hours working on this; it's going to be okay if you ignore your other responsibilities and focus on this, because perfection is within reach.
  • Try copying what someone else is doing because what they've done is perfect.

Next time you find yourself convinced of one of these lies, take a deep breath and a step back. Spend some time in prayer or reading Scripture. Ask God for discernment, and reach out to a sister in Christ. You can reach out to me - I'm here for you. 

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