I’ve always been baffled by the fact that Kenna, my 4-year-old, gets incredibly frustrated about everything at home, but when she’s at preschool, gymnastics or ballet classes, she has no trouble “keeping it together.” That changed at Friday’s gymnastics class.
She was learning a new skill on the balance beam and kept falling. After one too many falls she screamed, “I can’t do it! I don’t want to do gymnastics ANY MORE!” I was one part embarrassed (“oh my gosh, my kid just flamed out in front of everyone”), one part scared (“she’s going to start getting frustrated in public now like she does at home”) and one part sad (“she’s going to be cursed by perfectionism, like me, for the rest of her life”).
If Kenna can’t do something perfectly, she doesn’t want to do it at all. I’m exactly like that, and I regularly think about stopping blogging because of it – this blog is so far from the “perfect” blog I would like to have. For example:
I don’t write enough blog posts, and my frequency of posting is inconsistent.
Theoretically, I would love to publish the same number of posts every week and on the same days so readers know what to expect. But I have three kids under five (who are not in school during the day) and I work part time. I write during their nap time or after a long day when they are tucked into bed. Sometimes I can post twice in a week, but usually it’s only once, and I can’t even get myself to consistently post on the same day(s)…my blog is terribly imperfect because of it.
There’s no rhyme or reason to what I post about in a given week.
In a perfect world, I would have an editorial calendar where I meticulously plan the sequencing of posts to regularly and methodically hit each category my blog covers – never to have too many posts about one topic (e.g., prayer) or ignore another one altogether (e.g., service). Instead, I end up writing whatever I’m passionate about at a given moment…and my blog is terribly imperfect because of it.
I’ve started series I have yet to come back to.
In the last year, I’ve started four series that I haven’t returned to after the first post. I get goose bumps of embarrassment even typing that because it feels so messy…and my blog is terribly imperfect because of it.
I haven’t replied to every comment.
When someone leaves a comment, I hugely appreciate it. I love to hear your feedback and your own experiences. I want to respond to everything. But, depending on the stresses of a week, there are always some comments that go unanswered. I hate this…and my blog is terribly imperfect because of it.
I take everything too personally.
The second I hit publish on a new post, I get nervous. Will people like it? Will they even read it? Will they decide the blog isn’t worth reading anymore because the post wasn’t perfectly what I had in mind? Will someone leave a mean comment? I’ve received a handful of rather rude emails (from fellow believers!) informing me that I’m not a Christian because they disagree with me on some point or another; I even had one reader say she would pray that I “find my way back to God” because I encouraged parents to go beyond just telling their kids the Bible is “true” to helping them understand what it means when we say the Bible is true. Though these emails have been few, they literally reduce me to tears because I take everything so personally…and I am a terribly imperfect blogger because of it.
Because I loathe this blog’s imperfections, I regularly consider giving up on it.
I don’t lay all this out for the trappings of a pity party. I don’t even have plans to give up on blogging at this moment. Instead, I’m using this to demonstrate the futility of the perfectionist mentality. When we don’t do something because we fear creating a perceived mess of imperfection, we actually take away an opportunity for God to work.
Do you not study the Bible with your kids because you aren’t sure how to do it the “right” way? Do you not pray out loud with them because you don’t want to say something that won’t be “right”? Do you not go to church because you haven’t found the “perfect” one for your family? Do you not take time to serve others because you haven’t found the “perfect” opportunity? Do you not start faith conversations with your kids because you fear not having the “right” answers?
Dear fellow perfectionists, whatever your form of perfectionism, we need a transformation of the heart.
Perfectionism offers a beautiful vision for what could be, but handicaps us with a disappointment in what actually is. Hold on to the vision, but transform the disappointment into a grace-filled acceptance of where you are right now…then “press on” with joy.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)
Perfectionism offers motivation, but handicaps us with fear. Hold on to the motivation, but transform fear into the courage that is driven by love…then step out boldly.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)
Perfectionism offers strong self-awareness, but handicaps us with a self-centeredness that neglects the sufficiency of Christ’s work in us and through us. Hold on to the self-awareness, but transform self-centeredness into Christ-centeredness…then rest in His sufficiency.
But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
The perfectionist part of me thinks no one will read this post because it’s way over the 750-word rule (most people won’t read blog posts over that limit). The length of this post is imperfect. But I choose to believe today that God can work through these imperfect 1,102 words to bring value to someone out there in spite of it.
Do you struggle with perfectionism? How does it impact you or your parenting? I’d love to hear your experiences.