of, pertaining to, or characterized by defects or weaknesses
Imperfect = defective?
Imperfect = weak?
No wonder I struggle with perfectionism! Who wants to be defective and weak?
Or is there another way to look at this?
2 Corinthians 12:10 “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
There is no person alive, past, present or future, who is perfect. Apart from Jesus Christ. So why do we strive so hard for perfection? I am learning to let go of it. To recognize that “perfect” isn’t really so great after all.
Yesterday I finished up this year’s home made Advent calendar with my 2 children (ages 3 & 5). The calendar is made up of 3 ribbons with walnut halves glued on them, each containing a piece of paper with instructions for an activity (ideas we have created together, that I have written on colourful paper). We open one walnut each day of Advent. The 3 ribbons are now proudly hung on the wall by the dining room table.
Perfectionist me says “The ribbon widths don’t match, the nuts are not evenly spaced, the ribbon lengths are uneven, the colours are all different…” I don’t need to go on.
The new(er) me, the me who is learning to live in each moment, the me who is reaching for gratitude in the small details of every instance, says “Wow! What a beautiful time spent with my 2 wonderful children. Look at their faces glowing with delight at their special calendar made of ribbons they chose and nuts they cracked!”
Tonight, the first Sunday of Advent, we peeled off the first walnut. As instructed, we chose some gifts to donate to others in countries in need. After much discussion about what it means to be without clean water, and what it means to have no clothing, we have chosen to donate towards the creation of a well along with tuition for a woman to learn to sew. And in honour of our nephew, Christopher, who died of malaria at age 10 in Benin, we are donating mosquito nets.
How would this scene have played out if I had obsessed about trimming ribbons and insisted that the colours match and that the nuts were evenly spaced? If I had robbed my children of the opportunity to fully engage at their own level in this precious activity? Would my words have held any credibility as I told them about cholera and typhoid and lakes filled with sewage? I think not.
Perfectionism is a toxic poison that robs us of the moment. It causes us to lose sight of what matters. It clouds vision and causes pain to those that we don’t even see in our mad clamber for “better!”
It is also contagious and probably genetic. When my daughter was 2 years old I had to ban colouring books and colouring pages. She became enraged if she coloured ever so slightly outside of the lines. This, from a 2 year old! Oh dear…
So, she was confined to plain paper without any guidelines that might suggest she was making a mistake. This was the kick that I needed to work on my own perfectionist inclination.
And so it goes.
Mismatched ribbons and colours and walnuts. And it is so good to live in the moment, learning to ignore the insignificant details that once seemed to vanquish all else.
For when I am weak, then I am strong!