The Prison of Perfect

My dear friend Lee wrote a post last week about perfectionism and how we need to give grace to ourselves. I wholeheartedly agree and I wanted to second that by sharing with you my experience with perfectionism.

Doesn't it sound like a nice word?
I've come to detest it...

I am a perfectionist. 
I feel like this is an ugly confession. 
By nature, my personality, is not one that typically leads towards perfectionism but I still ended up as one.

For most of my life this felt empowering in a way. I felt like I was in control. I did the right things and isn't life supposed to turn out good when you do the right things? There's a great facade that comes with perfectionism, that some how I'm better than people who don't put on the perfection facade. That some how I have it all together. That some how I don't struggle with normal human things because I'm perfect. Or I deal with my struggles perfectly...
My imperfectly perfect birthday party in the back yard.

Then I had kids and a husband. They weren't perfect! My parenting wasn't perfect! Nothing was perfect and I found it so disheartening. I would grow discouraged and an entire day could be ruined when one thing would go perfectly. I began to notice... It took a few years, as my kids got older and I couldn't "make" them act "perfect". When control is not a good parenting method anymore because I want to teach self-control not parent-control. 

I finally came to the point where I saw the negative, destructiveness of perfectionism and wanted to get out of my prison of perfect... but I didn't know how! How could I get out of this life-long pattern of trying to make things work right? How did I let go of perfectionism so I could raise my children to learn from mistakes not be ashamed by them? How could I show myself grace as a parent, instead of beating myself up? HOW?!

I asked for help because I wasn't sure how to begin this journey away from perfectionism. I ended up asking my Uncle Rex. My Aunt Melissa and Uncle Rex are very special people to me. They've been a positive influence in my life. One thing I always admired about them is their honesty about their issues and where they were at... I confess in my perfectionism days I saw this more as a weakness. But as I acknowledged my own weakness, perfectionism, their honesty grew in attractiveness. 

I finally asked "How do you accept? How do you let go of perfect?" And my Uncle, in humble honesty, acknowledged that he came to a point "Where I couldn't fake it anymore. I was trying to help people with their issues but was hiding my own." He gave up the facade and embraced the imperfect, the mess, the truth. He went on to say "We think we are nearly perfect. That if we just get that last issue under control we would be perfect. When, in reality, it's the opposite we are totally imperfect and should rejoice in the moments where we parent like we wish to, or respond like we want." That stuck! I mulled over that lesson, that encouragement, and I took it to heart.
Letting go of perfect and letting my kids go to town with art.
 That was the first step I took in my freedom from perfect. In letting go and not putting such high and heavy burdens of expectations on my children, my husband, my friends, and myself. I began to let go. It took work, it still takes work. I adopted a mantra when I began to let the imperfect moment or unmet expectation deflate me "It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to be perfect." I'd say to myself. It helped so much! The reality is not only does it "not have to be perfect." It can't be perfect! We live in a broken world. We were designed for perfection that is why our hearts feel so much angst when things aren't like that. But this world is broken and so are we.

So let's rejoice in the moments where we parent how we hope to. When we keep our cool and forgive. Give grace to yourself and to those you love. We are not perfect. Let us rejoice in the love that binds us together through and in all the mess of life. Let's put away the facade, be ourselves, and connect with honest. Let's encourage each other, let's grow, but let us all be freed from the prison of perfection.


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