I’m Good Enough: My Battle with Perfectionism

I went through a period of binge-watching Hoarders…you know, that show on A&E that can always make you feel better about your own mess. In case you haven’t heard of this reality show, allow me to elaborate…

Each episode features one or two individuals who suffer from compulsive hoarding and their subsequent treatments. Professional organizers, therapists, and some version of a 1-800-JUNK-BE-GONE crew descend upon a stuffed-to-the-brim home and attempt to save some poor soul from themselves. Bouts of crying and gnashing of teeth undoubtedly follow as the homeowner’s belongings began to fill an outside dumpster.

The whole process is shocking and sad. For me, the saddest part often comes at the end when an update appears on the screen, a Hoarders version of “Where are they now?” All too often, these individuals have reverted to their old ways. Even when the stakes are inconceivably high…like losing custody of their children or a loved one’s health crisis.

As the credits would roll, I’d shake my head in disbelief. Their homes had been decluttered, scrubbed, and organized. The hard part had been done. How difficult could it possibly be to maintain that order? Especially when so much was on the line?

The show always made me feel a bit superior…until I realized I dealt with similar problems at the opposite end of the spectrum. In other words, I shared similar internal struggles (such as anxiety) with those featured on the show, but my issues manifested differently.

Okay, this is where I’m going to get real.

I’ve said this before, but my vision for this blog is a space where visitors get inspired by simple, real life ideas…not discouraged by unattainable, Pinteresty posts. The aim is improvement, not perfection.

A difficult concept for myself.

Growing up, if I made anything less than an A, I’d beat myself up. I wasted countless hours recopying my schoolwork until it rivaled a computer printout. My middle school hair was so smooth and hairsprayed that it resembled a helmet. Here’s a picture so you can fully comprehend this travesty (try to ignore the overly plucked brows):

middle1.png

And while I’m on a roll embarrassing myself, check out this other middle school picture I unearthed. This was my attempt at channeling the esteemed Avril Lavigne:

avril

Wow…anyway…

This need for perfection has been both a blessing and curse. I can be my own worst critic, driving myself crazy over insignificant shortcomings that seem gargantuan to me. I often exhaust myself by refusing to do something halfway.

On the flip side, my focus on details has helped me avoid many of life’s stresses. I rarely lose things or forget an appointment. I don’t feel overwhelmed by my belongings and truly enjoy being in my home.

Nowadays, I’ve learned to manage my perfectionism. It does still rear its ugly head at times, and I expect I’ll deal with it to some degree for the rest of my life. It’s just part of who I am (a realization that makes me more sympathetic toward the people featured on Hoarders).

I’ll always be a neat freak. I’ll always enjoy cleaning. I’ll always write like a typewriter. But I try not to sweat the small stuff anymore. (My kids have helped me immensely with this concept.)

However, as I alluded to earlier, there was a time when my life wasn’t so balanced…when my perfectionism became idolatry.

Of course, I didn’t realize it back then. But that’s a danger of idolatry, right? It’s insidious, sneaking up on people in unexpected ways.

I thought I was too smart to be an idolater. I had enough Sunday School under my belt to know that idols extended beyond golden calves and little statues. Idols could take many forms…money, food, expensive clothes, fancy cars. But I wasn’t under the spell of any of those items. I was safe.

Or so I thought.

My Life Application Study Bible defines idolatry as “blind worship or admiration of an undeserving object.” In this case, the word “object” isn’t referring to something that has to be tangible; it’s referencing something to which a specific feeling or action is directed (i.e. the object of one’s desire).

So, really, an idol can be ANYTHING that you value more than God.

And perfection was my idol. My relentless drive to be perfect trumped my need for the Lord. I sought satisfaction, comfort, and self-identity through exacting order on my surroundings and holding myself to impossibly high standards.

Basically, this performance-driven mentality said that God’s unconditional love wasn’t enough. It was up to me to make myself worthy…

…which stands in direct opposition to God’s promises. His grace is what allows me to approach His throne. Nothing else.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” -Ephesians 2:8-9

Once I realized the error of my ways, I adopted a mantra of sorts to help when the perfectionism monster strikes:

It’s good enough.

That lopsided birthday cake? It’s good enough. It’ll still be delicious, even if Superman’s face is melting down the side.

The children’s mismatched outfits? It’s good enough. They proudly dressed themselves.

Store-bought cookies for the block party? It’s good enough. I spent my baking time playing with my kids.

A ponytail and no makeup? It’s good enough. My morning primp time was spent rocking a fussy toddler.

A post-pregnancy body that isn’t at all bikini-ready? It’s good enough. It carried three babies after all.

A house that isn’t always sparkling and dust-free? It’s good enough. The best memories are made when things get a little messy.

This mantra was my permission to let go a bit, to give myself a pass…and an opportunity to lean into God.

My weaknesses allow His strength to be displayed. Where I’m imperfect, God is perfect. Where I fall short, God is sufficient. Where I’m good enough, God is great.

So, yeah, I’m not perfect, but I’m good enough.

And if that’s enough for God, then it’s more than enough for me.

 

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7 thoughts on “I’m Good Enough: My Battle with Perfectionism

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  1. Love this one! It has taken me a while to reach the “its good enough” stage with being a mom. As you know, I’m not one to need to have a perfectly clean and organized home or life, but when it comes to being a mom I find myself trying way too hard to be perfect and give them the “perfect childhood”. Once I finally realized that trying to be the mom who has all the perfect crafts and the best valentines in the class did not make my boys’ childhood any better was when I could finally relax! Now we have so much more fun together and mommy is much less stressed. Plus, the boys LOVED their $2.99 Paw Patrol and Star Wars valentines!

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    1. p.s. will you please post the pic of the tiny eyebrows??? I’m pretty sure it was from the movies or Chuck E Cheese! hahaha

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    2. I know exactly what you mean! You are so right. I bought Star Wars and Shopkins valentines this year, and my kids loved them just as much as anything I’ve made in the past. And I’m bad about trying to instill too many holiday traditions and then stressing myself out!

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