A Solid 7 out of 10 and Still Proud

So I’m a perfectionist in the WORST sense of the word. I simply care about too many things…and I NEVER stop aiming at perfection in ALL OF THEM!

I always want to be the “perfect mom,” the “perfect wife,” the “perfect cook,” the “perfect boss”…the list goes on and on.

I even try to get the “perfect clean” and to “perfectly” get stains out of every little thing! Sometimes it’s EXHAUSTING aiming for perfection!…Especially when it’s HOLINESS and good character I’m after. I know the verse, “Be ye holy as I am holy,” and the one in Matthew 5:48 that says, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” These verses are always in the back of my mind.

But how can we aim at THAT KIND OF PERFECTION when we KNOW we can’t attain it?

I think it’s about balance…and humility. It’s about our reliance on God to do IN us and THROUGH us what WE CAN’T DO ON OUR OWN.

Proverbs 11:1-3 says, “A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight. When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.”

I think it’s more about aiming for the stars while keeping our feet firmly on the ground. Accepting our own imperfections while striving for holiness. You see, we have to be ok with our reality and realize life is NOT some fantasy or fairy tale. But there’s a flip side! We also can’t accept MEDIOCRITY.

I think aiming for perfection is like a lot of other things. It needs balance. I view “aiming for perfection” more like “raising the bar.”

There’s an old saying my youth pastor used to say, “If you aim at NOTHING…you’re bound to hit it every time!”

I guess you could say that phrase stuck with me all these years. I’m always setting goals…always aiming for the stars!! Yes, I’m always “raising the bar”…for myself…for my husband…for my children. I think that’s a gift…to expect great things out of people. It empowers them! It inspires them! But sometimes…I have to remind the people I love of the flip side of that coin…being ok with imperfection! I have to remind them and myself that it’s ok to NOT BE PERFECT!

You see, you have to have both…a goal AND a nap! You can’t run marathons every day, you know! You must have rest days…”off days.” Rest days are when the muscles grow and rebuild themselves from within, and bad days are the biggest growth opportunities of your life! Even failures help us grow. I’m not afraid of failure. I learn a lot from my mistakes. In my weakness, God is always strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) He always turns the bad into good for those that love Him. (Romans 8:28)

Yep, I know it’s important to “reach for the stars while keeping your feet planted firmly on the ground.” EXPECT great things while ACCEPTING your limitations. I think BOTH are important. That’s why I say, “I’m a solid 7–and I’m proud of it!”

I know I have a lot to work on. Trust me. The list of things I wish I could do better is longer than my arm! I wake up every morning ready to tackle things on that list…and sometimes…it just grows longer!

The biggest compliment my mother ever paid me was one she told me just a few years ago when things weren’t perfect. She said, “I’m so proud of you. You never stop aiming for perfection, but you are ok with the imperfection all at the same time. You try to do things perfect, but you let things go.” Wow, Mom!

I don’t think she realized what a life-changing statement she made! It’s such an amazing gift to give someone when you can be proud of them in their hot mess…when they AREN’T PERFECT…when they feel like failures. You can still be proud of their EFFORT and share an encouraging word. You see, sometimes it’s US pushing ourselves to unrealistic levels of perfection, and sometimes it’s the INVISIBLE, infamous “voices in our head” pushing us. It’s the un-named “they” and “them” pushing us. Thoughts like, “I don’t want THEM to see me like this.” “What would THEY think if they knew?” “If only THEY could see my house now.” “I wish I could do it like THEM.” I’m literally giggling at myself right now. Those kind of statements pop in everybody’s head sometimes. We hold ourselves to a set of standards and ideals that feel impossible to attain.

So I end with this…don’t stop reaching for perfection! Strive to BE holy as GOD is holy! Fight EVERY DAY to be better…to DO better. But…BE OK with the imperfection in your life. Celebrate the forward steps you’ve taken. Celebrate your victories!

I once spoke to a lovely group of women about tough times and how amazing God’s grace is during those tough times. A beautiful young woman came up to me afterwards, heart-broken. She poured out her story to me in tears. I cried with her. Her story was a story of addiction and losing a battle for custody of her kids. It broke my heart to see her in so much pain. She was filled with so much regret. She was still living in a woman’s center, trying to conquer the addictions that were holding her under. It wasn’t her first time in rehab. She had been there a few times before. Somehow, she always ended up going back. When her story ended, she looked up to me with desperate eyes. I didn’t really know what to say. I just asked her a simple question, “What were you like 5 years ago?” Her eyes immediately lit up as she recounted to me tales of how horrible she “used to be.” I could tell she was getting it…a small glimpse of the victories she had won. But then, her eyes grew dark again…as regret and guilt must have taken over once more. That’s when I took her hands in mine and said, “I know you feel like you’re always taking 2 steps forward and 1 step back.” She burst into tears again and nodded her head “yes.” I leaned in closer and said, “Just think. After 5 years…you took 10 steps forward and 5 steps back.” She paused and looked up a bit confused. I kept going. “That means YOU TOOK 5 STEPS FORWARD! ‘Cause 10 minus 5 is 5. WOW! Look how far you’ve come!” I know she didn’t make the progress she WANTED to at the PACE she wanted to. That’s how it goes for all of us sometimes. But she STILL MADE PROGRESS!

I think it’s important to celebrate the little victories along the way. ‘Cause after all, isn’t life just made up of LITTLE moments…little moments that add up to big days, and months, and years. I’m a “little things girl.” Most days, I’m just “invisible.” I just do LITTLE things that make a MAJOR difference.

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