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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Letting Go of Perfection

Striving for perfection is the quickest way to a more complicated lifestyle.  I have never claimed to be perfect at anything, or even anything remotely close, but I do find myself caught up in wishing that I could do better, be better, or have better.  Then I try to check myself.  Stress is not good for me, and constantly comparing myself to an ideal is an exercise in futility.

What this means is that I forgive myself on a daily basis. I should not have to do this, because I should be okay with being less than perfect.  But this is not always how I feel.  So I try to give myself permission to just be what I am.  I know that others have this affliction as well, but I am not sure why we keep beating ourselves up.  My call to myself and to you is to prioritize what is important in your life, and give each of those things the attention you can, and let the rest go.

Sometimes this means saying no, and that is often hard.  This is especially true if you have always been a yes person.  People get used to that, and come to expect it.  But it is okay to say no, in fact it is often imperative.  You do not have to go to every committee or meet with every one of your friends on a weekly basis.  Your kids will survive if you do not help them make every project, and your church will not shut down if you don't volunteer for something.  Doing for everyone else before doing for yourself is a recipe for disaster.

For me, my most important roles are wife and mother.  That's right, wife first, mother second.  My family will not function well if my relationship with my spouse is falling apart.  Because these are my most important roles, they are the things that I focus on first.  If there is time after that, I say yes to other things. Perhaps I sit down to wright a blog post, or spend more time working on my business.  I might work on a volunteer activity, or spend time with a friend. These things are also important to me, but not as important.

I have learned that if I don't feel like making homemade bread and we are out, it is okay to buy a loaf from the bakery, that the housework can wait, and that we will survive if we don't socialize with everyone who makes a request.  These can be hard things, but I have also learned that friends will not judge me for a messy house, or if I skip out on a playdate.  Sometimes my house looks like a tornado has been through, and I let it lie if there is something more pressing to be done.

Another important role in my life is that of gardener.  This is another area where it is easy to get caught up in the idea of perfection.  However, anyone who has gardened knows that a garden sometimes thrives the less that you fuss with it.  If things get a little wild, or the weeds start to overrun, I find that my garden can usually survive.

Living a life of simplicity is threatened by the idea of perfection. The pursuit of perfection creates chaos in my life, which is not a very perfect way to live.  I have learned, for the most part, to sit back and let things happen as they will.  This almost always leads to more happiness in my life.

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