The Perfection Lie

Hello.

My name is Young Mom, and I am a recovering Perfectionist.

I used to be in denial that I am a perfectionist. Perfectionist’s were the type of people that annoyed me, they were the ones with the immaculate houses, well behaved children and clean nice-smelling cars. My house was never clean enough, my children still disobeyed despite my best efforts, my car was a disaster. Nope, I couldn’t be a perfectionist, otherwise I would have everything under control.

But being a perfectionist doesn’t mean that you have an immaculate house, it means that you feel that you are supposed to have an immaculate house, so you freak out whenever you feel your house isn’t.

Being a perfectionist doesn’t mean that your children always obey, it means that you believe that your children could be always obedient if you only do everything right.

When I look in the mirror and wish that I were a little taller and alot thinner. When I judged how other people’s children look and decided that mine would always be clean and co-ordinated. When I apologize to unexpected guests about “the mess”, or the fact that my children are wearing pajama pants in the middle of the afternoon. When I feel like a failure because my baby’s infected finger needs an anti-biotic to heal. I am being a perfectionist.

In a way, its not really my fault. Our entire culture sets us up to be perfectionists. People say things like “If you really loved your children you would feed them all organic food.” or “Real men never show emotion.” We read the magazines that tell us that you can lose all the baby weight in 8 weeks or that sex isn’t really worth it unless you have half a dozen orgasms. We watch the shows that tell us how our lives would become organized if we only remodeled our homes into the perfect paradise, or feature the mom’s that scrapbook every second of their child’s life and never have bad hair days or forget where they left their purse.

And then Christianity kindly adds its own dimension.

We have churches that try to help us along in our efforts to be perfect. A Christian man should always provide the sole income for the family. A Christian woman should not only be good at cleaning and cooking and taking care of her family, she should find her sole source of contentment and happiness in fulfilling that role. Real Christian men will be strong spiritual leaders. Real Christian women will embrace “true” femininity.

Has any of us ever had it all together? I am a great cook, I love cooking. I can make some pretty kick-butt stuff to bring to potlucks. But I detest certain chores around my house, and I must not be very good at organizing, or I’m sure I would get more done. Now, does that mean that I am pretty honest about this? Not really. When I have people over to my house, I’m not OK with them seeing how I actually live, (what would they think if they saw clothing scattered in the hallway, books stacked on the end tables, toys on the floor and dishes next to the sink?) it’s not good enough to be a good cook, I want to live up to everything I’m supposed to be, what everyone else seems to be. So I frantically clean (and hide) the stuff that makes my house look lived in, and shut the bedroom door so that no one can see that I never make my bed. So that I can give off the impression that I am what I am “supposed” to be. And in so doing, I perpetuate the lie.

The perfection lie. The lie that says that we are not good enough. The lie that makes us feel guilty whenever we don’t fit the mold. The lie that say we have to be good at everything. The lie that tells us that we are only worth loving/marrying/accepting, if we are perfect.

I’m not saying that its not good to have things I am working towards, talents that I want to cultivate, issues that I am trying to conquer. But if any of any of those things make me feel as though I will never measure up, I should question why I am doing it.

Why do I forget that God loves me exactly as I am. My husband loves me as I am. My children love me as I am.

I am a slightly messy, forgetful, clumsy, stubborn, loving, creative idea person; who isn’t very fashion oriented, loves to get hugs, experiments in the kitchen and never folds all the laundry. A person who loses my temper, is a little pudgier than I’d like, enjoys writing and gets lost in books. And it is good enough.

And it needs to be good enough for me too.
 

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