Monday, May 12, 2014

Let it Go: Living Outside of Perfectionism

I don't know what perfection is. I truly don't. Nothing I've ever done has been near perfect or close.

And when I see people pursing perfection, I pity them. {No alliteration intended.}

They want it in their weddings, their babies, their school children, their jobs, their Instagram photos, their Facebook sharings, the Pinterest pins, and their in-laws.

And, if they don't get it, they complain and are not happy.

Often we don't get our expectations because other people are interrupting them or blocking them. If we could only get beyond the people who stunt our dreams, our life would be perfect. We often get angry at those imperfect people in our lives because they mess up the perfection we see in our minds.

If we'd only stop looking at the everything as though some dark force is out to destroy our dreams and realize everything is grace. A messy, life-altering grace made beautiful by Christ.

Brenda over at Coffee Tea Books and Me shares: 

"Edith (Schaeffer) often reminded us that if we are only satisfied when we find perfection, we will end up with nothing (my paraphrase).  Life has had its' challenges when I found myself stomping my feet and complaining and whining and reminding God that this (whatever "this" is at the time) is completely unacceptable.
"But that is when the Father smiles and reminds this mother that it is not Heaven, yet.  And that He has gifted me with many good things.  He has made my boundaries to be in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6).  I just have to look at my children and grandchildren."

Like Brenda, it took a some years to figure out the simple pleasures and how to attain it and even now I think my daughters and daughter-in-loves look hopelessly at me and think, "She's too far gone." They listen half sympathetically at my Pollyanna pleadings to just live the moment and count it all a blessing.

They have no idea how long and how hard fought it has been for me to get to this point.

And when something has been fought for, we cling to it tightly.

They don't know that under it all, I struggle knowing that nothing I do is ever near perfect or close. I quit striving along ago. Disillusionment and crushed expectations were the crippling culprits, I guess.

Now I live under the crippling pressure that people think I don't try hard enough.

People have private messaged me regarding expectations. And I've answered, in weak pretense. I've struggled with my own demons. I've wrestled softly with simple expectations and my discontentment with expectations.

It seems that expectations are crippling and stressful entities of life...unavoidable.

And so, I've wrestled with the whole song by Queen Elsa called Let it Go!

"Test the limits and break rules for me...I'm free..."

"That perfect girl is gone."

Isn't this against what Jesus Christ taught us in Scripture?

People constantly want to break free from perfectionism. And yet they can't. People in the news even seem to avoid the goal of heaven because perfection within boundaries has disillusioned them too often. And some of those boundaries are good.

A spiritual director told me recently that what they're finding of teens in this day and age are that they don't know boundaries, they are beyond boundaries.

Where do we go with that when faced with this future generation?

What do we do with this?

I know, from brief life experiences, that boundaries are good for us. They keep us whole.

Not perfect, but whole.

It's good to remain whole.

Boundaries are good.

They teach us that not all of life is a playground.

Think of the Prodigal Son. Surely had he listened to his father who taught him right from wrong. Surely had he not broken the rules. Surely if he hadn't tested the limits and broken out of his father's care.

He'd have been truly free, truly whole.

Yes, he was free in the pig pen; he was also miserable.

Had he stayed in his father's boundaries he would have realized his father had "gifted me with many good things.  He has made my boundaries to be in pleasant places." (Psalm 16:6)

Until he came back into his father's fold did he realize that the boundaries set by his father were not to restrict him but to serve him and others as well. Because it is never just about us. We serve the whole body, not just one part.

It's good to be whole.

There is also the stark reality that my expectations are different from your expectations and we don't want to disturb anyone's inner peace so there's that point...and maybe it's a mute point.

But too many people feel that too many other people are trying to disturb their peace are the only one who can give them permission to do that.

If you can walk away from any situation at peace with yourself and God, then you are the one who has won. Not the others, no matter what their reasons were for being so vocal.

So I've found myself writing on expectations again when, in fact, I had no plans to do so.

Another blog post bites the dust of perfectionism.

Boundaries. Expectations. Perfectionism.

That's a large bite to blog about. Too large.

I only know that I'm thankful for the imperfect moments in my life. They've humbled me. They've made me abandon all to Christ. They've given me testimony. They've made me real. They've made me surrender. They've freed me.

There is only one Perfection and until we can turn over our imperfections in trust and hope that we will be made whole, we can never be free.

* * * * *
So, yes, let it go, give it up but within reason and respect for your fellow man. For more on this eliminating perfectionism in your life, read Fr. Michael Gaitley's books Consoling the Heart of Jesus and do a Marian Consecration with his book 33 Days to Morning Glory.

* * * * *
{Disclaimer: I have not finished watching Frozen though I've attempted to watch it twice with my girls and I've heard the main song Let it Go more than once as Hudson watches it from the backseat of the van, despite his auntie preference of the song In Summer. For the life of me, I can't blend it to the original fairy tale The Snow Queen by Han Christian Andersen yet I'm convinced I'm missing something until I watch the whole thing. I do suspect it has something to do with perfectionism.}


  1. Wonderful post. To me it is all about what is in your heart. I like to grow and learn. I like to express myself creatively and that can lead to perfectionism But only in myself. In the sense that I want to push myself but have fun at the same time. As long as I try something new each day, I am happy. Clarice

  2. This will a totally random comment. I was actually looking for an email comment and couldn't find one. I saw this review and immediately thought of you.

    I haven't seen the book itself but it immediately brought back fond memories of the old literature yahoo group. I don't often bring home picture books anymore but maybe I should - just for me, just for the beauty and the joy. Hope you are will!


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