I don’t know if it’s an oldest child thing, a black girl thing, a desire to “make it” thing, or just who I was born to escape being, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve aimed for perfection. This led to virtually uninterrupted straight A report cards from Kindergarten to college, extreme workouts, and a hellacious house-cleaning regimen. To strive for perfection in all things definitely has its perks. It allows one to shine above the rest in terms of school and career. It helps one to continue to push in athletics and physical training. It develops grit and perseverance. However, it also has its drawbacks. It creates division between self and others. It places unnecessary pressure on ones mental and physical being. It takes time away from the ones we love as we try so hard to make sure they come home to a comfortable clean and perfect home (that they will undoubtedly ruin within minutes of its completion!).
I vividly remember the day I stopped being a perfectionist. I had been grappling with feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Having had the second SmithBoy and still working tirelessly to climb the ladder at my new school, all while trying to maintain a spotless home and a body that would still make my husband drool. I was tired. One night, after getting both boys down, I walked back toward the kitchen, only to be greeted by a sink full of dishes. I thought, “It won’t take long to throw those in the dishwasher. Power through girl!” I opened the dishwasher only to find that it was full of CLEAN dishes that needed to be put away. I looked around the kitchen for an available sub to tag in and take my place, but it was juuuussttt me, solo dolo, facing a critical life decision. After pondering for what seemed like an eternity, I looked across to the opposite side of the kitchen. There sat a bottle of unopened Cabernet. I picked option 3) Close the dishwasher, pop the cork, pour a glass, turn out the light, and go sip and sit on the couch for 30 minutes of TV before bed. I said to myself, “The dishes will clearly be there tomorrow. I’m done, son!”
To know me is to know how abnormal that was then. Me? Go to bed with a dirty kitchen? Never! That was over 4 years ago. Now? Shoot, you best believe if ya girl is exhausted the dishes will be there. When I haven’t ironed a week’s worth of uniforms, I’ll get to them day by day or maybe even a few days at a time when life permits. If we are out of Lunchables or small bags of chips, we create a new lunch idea because sometimes the store is too much of a hassle at the time. You see the day I decided I was done chasing perfection was the day I learned to love my truest self.
“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
God isn’t concerned with us being perfect. Instead, He is concerned with our efforts to live for Him and love like Him. Trying our best to do our best every single day. He knows we’ll fall short. He created us all to be a perfectly HOT MESS! He knew from the jump all that we would master, all that we would fail, and how much joy, tragedy, and triumph we would endure. That day in my kitchen, I accepted the permission God gave me to not have to have it all together ALL the time. Take a break. Sometimes, we have to just accept that it won’t all get done. It might not happen EVER (like organizing my garage). But at the end of the day, having our health and strength gives us the proof that God’s grace is sufficient for our lives….not our flawed efforts to appear or even become perfect. Cut. It. Out. Live life. Love the mess. Dig your clothes out of the laundry basket for a few days. Don’t stress that the meat is still in the freezer, eat a grilled cheese sandwich! Leave that job, what didn’t get done today will be waiting for you tomorrow. The quest for perfection is literally a waste of time. God’s power is made perfect in our weaknesses, so let Him flex! Accept the fact that your life will be perfectly imperfect for as long you are blessed to live it, so enjoy the chance to be a Blessed Mess! XOXO