Monday, October 14, 2013

Persnickety Perfectionism

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” Galatians 1:10

1…2…3…I blew in his face and dunked him under the water, and he tried his best to swim to the wall. He emerged somewhat confident, but mostly exasperated because he hated swim lessons. Yet, we went two times a week, and each time he would mostly cry and swim a little. One day, I noticed that his tummy looked a little swollen after swim lessons, so I pushed it and…blah, water came spewing out of his mouth! Oh my goodness! My little Mikey had been swallowing the water instead of holding his breath. So, we decided to take a little break from swim lessons. 

Yet, I still felt the pressure. Mikey was only two at the time, but everyone (or what felt like everyone) insisted that he needed to know how to swim. Forget that most of our generation didn’t know how to swim until school age or later—this new little generation needed to swim before they could walk…or so it seemed. The truth is, our culture insists that kids do a lot of things on their own from a very early age: go to sleep on their own, become potty trained, learn to swim. Yes, all of these things are good things, but we must ask ourselves “why” and “how”. Do we want our kids to be whole and strive for excellence in all they do, or are we raising a new generation of stressed out, perfectionist kids?

The truth is that the dangers of perfectionism are far too costly and the rewards far too shallow. So, how do you know if you are a perfectionist? If you are constantly comparing yourself to, competing with, and criticizing (outwardly or inwardly) the other women in your life, you may be a perfectionist. If you are constantly focusing on what is wrong with yourself and others, you may be a perfectionist. If your husband can never do anything right, you may be a perfectionist. If you are not okay with your son or daughter NOT being good at something that YOU think they should be good at, you might be a perfectionist. 

If you are panicking because this may be you, don’t worry! As a recovering perfectionist with occasional relapses, let me lovingly say that there is hope…more than that: there is GRACE.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

The answer to our perfectionist tendencies is almost so simple that it is hard to accept: we were never meant to be good at everything. Our kids are not called to be good at everything. We are not called to be just like the other moms we know. We are not called to be just like our own moms. We were made to be the wife and mom of the husband and kids God gave us. So, given these precious and challenging responsibilities, God calls us to do our best, knowing that we would not be the best at everything. 

However, God knew we would struggle with the feeling of not being good enough, so that is why he told us that his grace would be sufficient. We were always meant to walk in His strength and not our own. We are called to listen to His voice, and block out the traffic of noise around us—each book or person telling us we should be parenting our kids some other way.

So how do we drown out the conflicting voices around us and jump out of the race to be the best mom with the best kids? Practically speaking, here are a few things we can do to maintain a sense of calm and balance:

1. Accept that you, your husband, your kids, your friends, and your neighbors all have weaknesses. Know that God’s grace is sufficient and then give them and yourself the grace to grow up and become more mature. Recognize that maturity is a process, not an overnight thing.
2. Accept God’s forgiveness and extend that forgiveness to others. What a humbling thing it is to have to apologize to our kids when we make a mistake! But God uses that to show them that we all fall short of his glory and that forgiveness is available to all.
3. Be transparent. We do not have to know the answer to everything. We may have some practical parenting advice of things that worked for our family, but we should also be transparent enough to let others know that we have made mistakes.
4. Speak the truth in love, and realize that advice and/or opinions are not necessarily truths…they may just be your personal convictions. If the Bible doesn’t directly speak to the issue, then it is OK if you and your family disciple your children differently than the other couples you know.
5. Pursue Excellence, not Perfectionism: Give it everything you’ve got, and then let it go. Don’t dwell on what you could have done better. Learn from it and keep moving forward. Stop looking back!

So ladies, let us test and examine ourselves, give it our best, and release it all to God. For His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in our weakness. Because Christ’s love is perfect and I find my strength in him, I don’t have to be perfect and neither do you.:)

Dear God,
Thank you for loving me and accepting me. Please help me to rely on your strength and not my own. Thank you for making me unique. Please help me to stop comparing, criticizing, and competing with the other moms around me. Help me to accept my husband, kids, and myself just as we are, and may we all have your grace to grow. In Jesus’ name.

Verses to Consider:

"As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.” 2 Samuel 22:31

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

*** Side note: This is a repost of a blog I wrote almost 2 years ago. My oldest Doodlebug is almost 6 now, and he loves to swim! He became comfortable with the water in his own time. :)


  1. I so LOVE this post and LOVE that you "get" not keeping up with the expectations of others! You are a great mommy and I love "watching" you do such a great job from your entries on Parakaleo!

  2. Thank you so much, Joannie! Your encouragement means a lot! I enjoy your blogs as well. Such a beautiful way to stay connected and learn from each other at the same time. :)