Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?
Hi, my name is Sandy, and I’m a closet perfectionist. And I know that perfectionism is overrated!
No one would know my secret if they looked at my house, my hair, or my clothes, but somewhere down deep there is a desire for perfection. My heart races and my nerves shake when things are not in order. I used to tell my children I could not make them lunch until the counter was clear and everything was in its place. Considering the fact that this rarely happened, it is a miracle that my children have not starved.
This uncomfortable trait has hounded me my whole life. I just never fully understood it until I became a mother. The demands became greater. My house became messier. My mind and body became overworked. And peace fled the scene. After all, if you can’t rest until everything is perfect, then rest will rarely be yours to enjoy.
Thankfully, I can say that God has been working on me in this area. He gave me five children to stretch my limits and help me see that perfection here on earth is a myth. I have learned to turn a blind eye to unmade beds and piles of laundry. I have gone to bed with dishes in the sink. I have snuggled with my children when the “to do” list was longer than the toilet paper unrolled on the bathroom floor. But there is one area where the struggle persisted.
In my heart, I not only longed for perfection I wanted to be perfection. I deeply desired to do everything right so my children would follow God, be loving to each other, and be kind to others. I wanted to get it perfect so they would get it perfect.
The popular slogans for success, “Strive for excellence” and “Give life 110%” became my unspoken mantras for motherhood. I would give this huge responsibility of raising children all I had. I would have devotions every day. I would pray with each child every night! I would model what a perfect follower of Christ should be.
It wasn’t very long before I realized this was impossible. Perfectionism is overrated! How can you give 110% when you only started with 100%, and after the overflowing toilet, the runaway dog, and the all-out sibling war there is only 17% left?
After some frustrating failures and deep soul searching, God finally helped me to see the problem. I was relying on my own strength and wisdom. My motivation was commendable, but my expectations were wrong. I was not perfect and neither were my children.
He was doing a work in my life making me more like Him, but I wasn’t there yet. And the truth is, I will never be perfect this side of heaven. He was the One who would use my feeble attempts to shape my children into who He wanted them to be. It wasn’t up to me. It was all up to Him.
I have come a long way since my children were little, but I have to admit that I still fall into the perfectionism trap. When I do, I remind myself that the Lord’s expectations of me are much lighter than my expectations of myself. He does not require me to have the house spotless all the time. He does not require me always to feel energetic and playful. He does not require me to be everything to everyone. All He expects of me as a person and a mother is to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with Him. Even in these things I need His help. I am powerless to do them in my own strength, but He gladly gives me His power as I rely on Him.
I cannot keep my children from arguing, but I can be just in my dealings with them by seeking the truth and relying on God’s wisdom to handle the situation appropriately. I can model repentance when I blow it and show mercy when others ask forgiveness. Most of all, I can love the Lord my God will all my heart and soul and mind and walk humbly with Him on a daily basis. These are the things that will make the biggest difference in the lives of our children.
None of us will ever be perfect on earth. So before your 110% dwindles down to 15% or less, consider what God requires of you – to live justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him.
After all, perfection is overrated!
This post first appeared here and is shared with permission.