Imperfection

Last Saturday while at the library with my darlings, I picked up a little book, The Art of Imperfection. Those of you who’ve cheered me on during my struggle to let go of perfectionism are raising your eyebrows at that choice. You’re fervently hoping I don’t find a way to be perfectionistic about being imperfect. I promise not to do that.

The book’s main idea is that being perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, that our little idiosynchrasies are actually what make us more lovable to those who really care for us. When I think on it, that’s true. Take my husband for instance. He’s nearly perfect in the physique department, and I could indeed go on at length about his beautiful eyes and olive skin and… you get the point. But there are these little wrinkles right behind his ear and just above his neck that are so incredibly perfect for kissin’. Few would notice that little quirk but it’s so endearing to me.

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I gotta tell ya when it comes to idiosynchrasies and imperfections, I’ve got plenty of ’em!

Just last week, I wrote a note to my son’s teacher, specifically designed to get her to call me. One problem: I gave her someone else’s phone number! She wasn’t amused, but you’ll love me for it, right?

I have this weird thing with napkins. I need them. I hoard them in my vehicle. I find them balled up in my fist hours after I’ve eaten. But need to sneeze in a public place? I won’t have a napkin on me anywhere!

Sometimes random words come out of my mouth and they have nothing to do with the conversation at hand. My thoughts just get on the wrong train. I once yelled out “Winn Dixie!” to my kids in the car for no apparent reason. They’re still laughing at me for that.

I hide a tatoo under my sophisticated businesswoman costumes. I have a weakness for all sweets but an abhorrence for skittles and tootsie rolls. I drink my coffee black unless I haven’t eaten breakfast… then I add enough cream and sugar to trigger a tremor in my hands for the rest of the day. I sometimes skip my kids’ bathtimes and let them behave like this in a restaurant: (Note, one of those kids belongs to my sister, she does this too!)

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I sleep through my alarm at least once or twice a week. I sometimes stay distracted for days and can’t get motivated. I recently called my beloved counselor in such hysteria all I could choke out was “You pray. I can’t talk.”

I love the smell of new Bibles, old churches, rubber tires, and Yankee Candles’ leather car jar. I have three pregnancies’ worth of stretch marks and coloring my hair is no longer something I do just for fun.

I have a great life. There are a bunch of people who are crazy enough to love me for the shortcomings listed above. The art of imperfection is about learning to love life when things go your way and when they don’t. It’s about laughing at yourself and living in the moment. It’s about letting go of the idea of perfection enough to see the wonderfulness right in front of your face.

It is, however, an art. One I’m practicing with enthusiasm.

 

 

 

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Reason #4 Why I Can’t Say No

Reason #4 Why I Can’t Say No:  I can’t stand admitting that I can’t.

On the outside, friends, you might think I’m just the girl next door.  You see me come and go, live a relatively quiet life, and you never know my secret.  My deep, dark, disgusting secret.  Until now, because I’m about to tell you:   I’m a raging lunatic perfectionist.

SURPRISE!!!!

My husband and my closest of friends are snickering because they had that figured out LONG before I.  Maybe others are raising an eyebrow.  After all, it’s not like being around me is like an episode of Hell’s Kitchen.  I don’t go around screaming or firing people who don’t live up to my expectations.  In truth, the most insane perfectionist expectations I reserve for myself alone.

I hold myself to a standard that is beyond ridiculous.  So much so that I often find myself frustrated with other people who seem to be ok with themselves even as they behave in less than perfect ways.  How do they let themselves off the hook so easily?  Not so for me!  I seem to know no other way but ON the hook.  So terribly, irreversibly ON the hook.

Even in areas where it seems I’m laissez-faire, I’m still beating myself up inside.  Keeping a perfect house, for example, has forever been beyond my reach.  So in that case, I just don’t try.  Rather than continue to try and fail, I elect not to try.  Ditto for my desk.  It’s a perpetual state of chaos and I do not have the energy to continue to attempt another failed organizational strategy.  I laugh sometimes that I’m like Pigpen on Charlie Brown.  An ongoing cloud of stuff just follows me.  I don’t mean to create it and I’m not sure where it comes from but it’s always there.  On the outside, it seems to others that I don’t care.  Just last week, a coworker moved several things on my desk.  Her explanation was “just trying to make you a little neater.”  I smiled and said nothing.  But inside me was a cauldron of humiliation and frustration because I really do expect more from myself, and sincerely do wish I had a neater desk.  I joke about it sometimes, but the truth is that it’s frustrating to me to have not yet conquered my “pigpen” type qualities.

Same goes when I have to admit that I can’t do something.  Whether it’s that I don’t have time, ability, or even the interest, saying “no” means I admit that I’m less than perfect, and um…. I hate that.

Hold on to your hats because I’m about to blow this whole thing up by admitting the truth:  THIS IS NOTHING BUT PRIDE.  Nothing at all except me wanting to be in the front of the line, every time.  Nothing except me wanting the satisfaction of being the best.   Not me, showing mercy to other poor less-than-perfect souls by letting them off easier.  Nope.  It’s me holding myself to a higher standard because I LIKE THINKING I’M THE BEST.

Totally and completely opposite of the way a daughter of the Most High God should be.  (Pride’s first on the list of things He hates, you know.)

Any of you who are still reading after seeing in print such an awful truth about me, thank you.  So what now?  Check this out:

Romans 5

 1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

It’s grace, my friends.  The ultimate price was paid for me when I was completely oblivious.  You too.  No need to be in front.  No need to be the best.  No need to beat myself up for failing to achieve whatever my latest unrealistic expectation happens to be.  I’ve been loved, accepted, and declared OK already and it had nothing to do with me.  I simply had to accept it for the gift that it is.  That kind of enormous gift makes my need to be first and best seem so silly, doesn’t it?  Why all that trying for a fleeting feeling of self-satisfaction when there is a much more abiding and steady confidence that can be mine through no effort of my own?  God’s plan sure seems easier when it’s put that way, huh?   Perhaps that’s what Jesus meant by the whole “my burden is LIGHT” thing.

And since I no longer have anything to prove, seeing as how Jesus did it all FOR me, since I know that not wanting to admit my imperfections is really an imperfection in itself, and a BIG one at that, Reason #4 is officially defunct.

 

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