Are You Exhausted Trying To Reach For Perfection?

June 15, 2017

Reaching for perfection

Are you exhausted trying to reach for perfection? Do you find yourself in a battle where no matter how much you do – It somehow just isn’t good enough?  How about that sinking feeling inside when you pull off near perfection but feel like a fake to others?

Confession – I am a recovering perfectionist, a work in progress.

Honestly, that was even stressful to say because my car isn’t clean and my pantry is atrocious. So how could one claim to be reaching for perfect when obviously they failed before starting?

Back in our early days of church attending our well-connected friends in the church convinced us that we should host a Bible study.  Our home was determined to be the best meeting location.

These were the days when looking good was pretty darn important to me. I found such worth when people commented on how well behaved my children were or how nice I kept my home.

So this was going to be a major endeavor on my part each week to get my house just perfect for guests.

Striving for excellence was my motto.

However, my family would attest I seemed to blur the lines of striving for excellence and perfection.

“Healthy striving is self-focused: “How can I improve?” Perfectionism is other-focused: “What will they think?”
― Brené Brown,

The Unexpected – One near disaster for the facade of perfection

Let me tell you about one particular night. Arriving home from work in a huff -a quick hello to the kids and off I went in a flurry. Picking up speed as I went along room to room turning items just so. In my mind, I could hear myself checking off my list. Clean towels folded correctly in the bathroom, music playing, Candles lit, just the right lights turned on, and of course, the vacuum run in the places people would see the carpet. As time began ticking things were rapidly being shoved out of sight.

Hospitality in my home was taken to another level, one I would not recommend.

Do not pretend some of you do not know what I mean, you do.

All I had to do was clean the last little bit in the kitchen and get the kids upstairs. Growling under my breath because this was such an ordeal to get things ready and my husband was once again running late or was it the madness he was trying to avoid?

Then all of sudden I heard screams from the kids. “The dog,” “the dog” as their pointer fingers, waved in the air.

And there it was –  our beautiful dog running in circles;  a live mouse on a sticky pad stuck to his whiskers. This mouse was squirming around trying to free itself, and the dog was eagerly trying to eat it.

Mayhem ensued at this point. I too started screaming.

This girl does not do dead mice, and she certainly doesn’t do live mice. How on earth would I get this live thing off the dog all by myself and in time before my guests would arrive?

At this point two of my three children were hysterical. One went into a life-saving mode, determined to rescue the cute little mouse. I found her attempting to pull down a glass aquarium from way up high in the garage to house the dear mouse. The other daughter was hiding in fear of the mouse. To be honest, I have no recollection of where the 3rd child was.

I could see the clock ticking as the dog ran throughout the house. Knowing the doorbell would ring soon with our guests. I screamed at the top of my lungs, and it wasn’t my “church voice.”

I growled, and I fuzzed angry at everyone especially myself. Who in their right mind hosts a Bible study when everything has to be perfect?

Was Perfection attained?

Somehow I managed to send two sobbing children to their rooms. One upset we didn’t save the mouse, and the other convinced an army of critters was heading to her room. I am sure the thirds was thinking it was all kind of cool.

Then the doorbell rang and what did I do? I opened so graciously and with the calmest of voices. I said, “Hello, how are you tonight?” “Oh, I am good too.” ” Please do come in and have a seat.” As if I  didn’t have a care in the world and my home was full of peace.  Outwardly,  I had pulled it off, but in reality,  I was just good at faking calm, cool, and collect.

Of course, it was only an illusion, and it didn’t come close to what I was feeling on the inside. I felt like a fake to our group and a failure as a mom.  All of the joy was sucked right out of the house.

Plus I was exhausted trying to reach for perfection.

What does God Have in mind?

When we reach for perfection, we miss what God has in mind. We blunder the connection with others, with God, and with what really matters. These are moments we can’t ever regain.

Reaching for perfection is an illusion of our mind. It is something inside of us that says; I am not good enough, but I will keep trying. It is exhausting –  reaching for something that only God has attained.

“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—” Jude 24 NIV

Are you exhausted trying to reach for perfection? 

Travel with us this month as we take a deeper look into what perfection is all about and how God never intended us to live this tiresome way of life. If you are looking for a few favorites of mine on our topic, please click here.

Blog Series on Perfection:


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24 Comments

  1. Reply

    Perfection Is Unattainable | Embracing the Unexpected

    […] Are You Exhausted Trying to Reach For Perfection […]

  2. Reply

    Rebekah

    Recovering perfectionist – yes, me too! Now I have a son who struggles with this as well, but it’s part of a series of disorders that he struggles with, so we have to show him how being imperfect is okay – that we all make mistakes. This has been a tough pill for me to swallow, BUT I’ve found such freedom in teaching – and accepting! – imperfection. Thank you! Stopping by from #TellHisStory

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Rebekah, Thank you, I needed that reminder today. I too have children that struggle with perfectionism and additional disorders. You are so right it is important to show them imperfect is okay. Hope you have a wonderful weekend – Maree

  3. Reply

    10 Clues You're Striving For Perfection, Not Excellence | Embracing the Unexpected

    […] you read in my last post, struggling to look like we had it all together was a constant battle when hosting Bible study in […]

  4. Reply

    Brandi Raae

    Oh yes! I can relate to the whole striving for perfection thing but always feeling like a failure. I like everything perfect even when there are no guests on the calendar. My other faults keep me quite humble, though. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing at Literacy Musing Mondays – that mouse story was funny. 😉

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Brandi – I have to admit God had to get my attention on this fault of mine. It has been a long hard lesson of learning. Maree

  5. Reply

    Meghan

    Love that quote. Really makes ya think! I had to learn the hard way to let go of what others think and still have to do this from time to time. Thanks so much for sharing these awesome words at #TeaAndWord. Xoxoxo Meg

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Meghan – I am probably in the same boat, learning the hard way. I think the problem is mastered and then it creeps up on me. Thank you for stopping by. Blessings, Maree

  6. Reply

    Michele Morin

    I love the fine distinction shared by Brene Brown. Thanks for these uplifting words — I’m “in recovery” as well!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Michele, I love Brene Brown’s quotes. Glad to know I am not alone in my recovery. Maree

  7. Reply

    julie@unmasking the Mess

    Maree- the mouse, the dog…oh my goodness! I strive too much and I miss the moments with my kids. I need to be better about letting go a little more:)
    Can’t wait to hear the rest of the series!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Julie, Oh my goodness. Me too! Would you believe right smack dab in the middle of writing this series I find myself struggling with perfectionism? Maree

  8. Reply

    CrystalStorms.me

    Love that distinction between healthy striving and perfectionism. Thank you, Maree, for the reminder only God is perfect and I am not.
    Sweet blessings to you!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Crystal, Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. You have reminded me of my words, God is perfect, and I am not. What a great way to start the day. Maree

  9. Reply

    Kym Thorpe

    Oh my, what a funny story that illustrates your point brilliantly! I can relate. 😉 I never used to think of myself as a perfectionist, but I did find myself worrying too much about what others thought than just doing MY best and trying to please God first.

    Visiting from Glimpses today.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Kym,
      Oh, I have a few stories. Thank goodness I can find them funny now. I agree pleasing God should come first. I hope you will read my post this week where I tell another story that is directly related to God. It was the catalyst to seeing my error. Thank you for stopping by, Maree

  10. Reply

    mbethany

    Oh my goodness!! I would not have handled the mouse well either!!! I also wrestle with perfectionism (selectively- somethings I don’t mind messy!) You make a great point. I remember wanting my house to be all nice and put together when I first got married and we hosted often. The stress I put my husband under was ridiculous- so glad we learned from that and settled for honest striving instead of pretending perfect! And thankful for the Lord’s grace!

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      If you saw my home, you wouldn’t think I wrestle with perfectionism, but I do. I have gotten so much better, but I have to keep my eye on it. I don’t know about you, but I made my entire family miserable when I entertained. I still like to do the extra special things, but they are not a high priority, and if I don’t get to it I am okay.

      I am so glad you have settled for “honest striving instead of pretending perfect.” What a great way to say it.

      Thank you for stopping by,

      Maree

  11. Reply

    Erin @ http://www.burdenfreecaregiving.com/

    Maree, I am laughing. Thank you for a perfect visual. I am going to share this one. ❤️ I will keep this one in mind all day long. 😀

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      I am so glad I was able to start your day with a bit of laughter. I hope your day is fabulous! Thank you for sharing my post. Maree

  12. Reply

    Lisa notes...

    This is so true: “Reaching for perfection is an illusion of our mind. It is something inside of us that says; I am not good enough, but I will keep trying.” I am hosting a meal at my house tomorrow night, so this is timely advice for me to not try to get my house perfect (as if I could, ha). Thanks for sharing, Maree.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Lisa – Oh my the mere mention of a meal at you home made me chuckle. I hope it goes well. I do know people enjoy it so much better when it isn’t perfect. I still make an elaborate list of what I want to get done before a party, but the difference is I am okay if it doesn’t get done. Still a work in progress. Good luck. Maree

  13. Reply

    Theresa Boedeker

    Maree. This is a funny and yet a sad story because so many of us can relate. Just change the time and make it a cat. I too, am a recovering perfectionist. No more striving for perfection and worrying what others will think. Because as you say, it is to stressful and draining. And we never attain it. I am trying now to live with an attitude of grace, not perfection.

    1. Reply

      Maree Dee

      Theresa,

      At the time it was not funny at all. I laugh now at what I must have looked like trying to keep it all together. A video of the event would have been classic. I like what you said about living with an attitude of grace. I am going to try that on for size. Thank you for sharing. Maree

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