Loosen Up!

If you’ve ever graced my home with your presence, you probably learned something about me the moment you stepped in the door: I’m a perfectionist. No, my house isn’t perfect (far from it) but I am a pretty exacting housekeeper. I dare you to find a crooked picture or a yellow leaf on one of my numerous houseplants. And you can bet that in the moment before you came I was zipping around dusting tables, wiping the last crumb from the counter, and making sure the fruit in the bowl on the center of our dining room table was prettily arranged. It’s kind of sick, isn’t it? Seriously, who am I trying to impress?

That’s just the thing: the only person I’m trying to impress is me. I have very high standards for myself (at least in some areas of my life), and I’m crazy hard on myself if I can’t keep those expectations met.

In my last post (Everything is Grace) I told you that I had recently come to a couple of conclusions: we’re too hard on ourselves and we’re too hard on each other. Today I want to pick the first idea apart, and hopefully spark a discussion. Or at least give you permission to loosen up a little!

I told you that I’m doing a Bible study on Biblical simplicity, and that so far it’s really striking a chord with me. In the very first week I found myself faced with the question: What dulls your senses to God’s still, small voice? The answer came so quickly and so forcefully I’ve been chewing on it ever since: the myth of perfection. I think I spend so much time making sure my life is just so that I don’t have a spare minute in which to be still. To simply be. Later on in the study I wrote this in the margin of my book: I need to give Superwoman the heave-ho! But how am I supposed to do that? Right now I’m typing with my bed unmade (gasp!) and the counter cleared but still crumby from breakfast (oh, the horrors!). Can I slowly strip my mythical Superwoman of her powers by forcing myself to let the occasional thing slide? Or will that just create more stress in my life? Does it take something deeper than enduring a dirty counter to cultivate a spirit of grace and simplicity?

I don’t know. How’s that for wishy-washy? Here you thought you were going to read a post with a few answers in it, and instead I write those dreaded three words: I don’t know…

But I can tell you that I’m trying to let go a bit. To stop beating myself up if I send my four-year-old to preschool with his hair fuzzy, or to give myself the grace to leave the house without my hair done and my make-up in place. (And that’s really a stretch for me because I look like a corpse without something to brighten me up!) That feels like a start. A place to begin. But there has to be more to it than that. So, your turn. I’d love to know if you have any ideas, any methods that you use to battle that inner voice that whispers: “You’re not enough…” We’re in this together, my friend. And in the words of Stuart Smalley: “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.” 😉


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