Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Perfection or nothing

A few weeks ago I was encouraging  preaching to my oldest daughter about the ways that she should try to develop more bonds with her younger sisters. She gave me many excuses why the things that I were saying could not be done. Finally, I just broke out some Edith Schaeffer and told her: "If you expect perfection or nothing... you will always end up with nothing"." I then thought to myself: "well, that's some good advice I need to take!"

What happens when you start expecting perfection in every area of your life, is that things don't get done. If you strive for perfection, or do nothing, you get nothing.  Case in point: If I wait for the perfect time to do my bills when I have no interruptions and plenty of time, then they will never get done. If I don't pay the bills, then I get nothing. Perfection=nothing and nothing=nothing.  I need to accept that bills will get done amidst arguments, interruptions, and cries for food--(always the food!)

This spills into so many other areas in our life. I planned to have a "back-to-school" feast with my children, decorating the table beautifully, reading verses to help our family during this transition we are facing, etc. etc. You get the picture. Well, I kept putting it off and putting it off because the circumstances were not "perfect": I was too tired, I did not feel like cooking a meal or decorating, my husband was going to be late...... Finally, I told myself: "Andrea, if you strive for perfection, you get nothing. If you do nothing, you get nothing. " So that night we put on the back-to-school crowns, set a table like any other night, and my mother helped me make a "Southern" dinner of fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. It actually turned out perfect despite my idealistic tendencies of this "perfect dinner"!!

As part of becoming a "Recovering Idealist", this quote from Edith Schaeffer is key. It is easier for God to do His work in spite of circumstances, not in perfect circumstances.  This is where He gets the glory. Not when we plan every detail, but when we make room for Him, despite our "failures". 

So...where are you expecting perfection in your life?
..in Family Life?
...educating your children?
....cooking fabulous, healthy dinners?

How about in reaching out to others?  Cleaning your home. Doing that craft you want to do. Does it have to be perfect? Remember:  If you strive for perfection, or do nothing, you get nothing.

22 comments:

TAMI said...

FlyLady has a quote that helps me remember how important it is to just START, even if you don't have time to do it completely or perfectly. "Anything worth doing, is worth doing wrong." ('wrong' according to a perfectionists definition, that is.) 10 minutes cleaning the bathroom is still a blessing to our families, 20 minutes exercising is still a blessing to our bodies, a 15 minute call to my mom is still a blessing even if it's not the 45 I was hoping for. Reading one chapter of the Bible is still a blessing to my soul. And on and on the IMPERFECT blessings go!!

brudfam said...

That was beautifully written and really hit home to me. I have that same tendency to wait for the "perfect" time for so many things, and end up not doing them and "get nothing." I am going to write this quote down and put it all over my house so I can remember it everyday. Thanks for sharing and reminding me that perfectionism keeps me from fully enjoying life and doing the things that God wants me to do, and that can bless and help my family, and those around me.

By the way, I have been a lurker on your blog--found you thru NieNie's blog, and I thoroughly enjoy reading your reflections on life, and appreciate your love and dedication to the Lord. Thanks for the inspiration!

Monica said...

It's interesting that you should include this particular quote. I was asked to read a passage at a bridal shower last week and that is the exact one that I chose.

I love that whole section- life doesn't happen in little boxes. Suffering/caring for the suffering is not time wasted, but time gained. LOVE IT!!

I, too, was convicted about my own expectations and lack of motivation at times. I don't want to have a nothing life.

Betsy Norwood said...

Love it, love it, love it! What a great reminder, Andrea!! I'm always convicted that it's the "down and dirty" that prevents me from living a shallow life. Perfection is over-rated, especially when it's not even achievable!!

Aimee said...

Awesome quote and will be my new mantra :) I have found myself getting perfectionistic again this past week and my relationship always suffer the most when I get this way. I hate that internal driveness that seems to spring from fear and a lack of rest in my walk with the Lord. Learning my full acceptance from the Lord is key for me.

Cheryl-Crispy not Crunchy said...

Hear hear! As a recovering perfectionist (whose home was always filthy and disorganized) I can tell you first hand how true those words are. I've since learned the importance of not waiting until the "perfect" time. You said it so eloquently!

Aja said...

Oh I totally hear you! I blogged about that very thing the other day. I think especially at the beginning of the school year, the perfectionism monster rears it's ugly head. LOL

Anonymous said...

Andrea- This is very true! I needed to hear that very thing! Give your family our love-

Ami

Courtney said...

Andrea,
I so needed to hear this this week. I've been dealing exactly with guilt from a) striving for perfection and getting nothing and b) doing nothing and getting nothing ;)
Guilt is a mother's worse enemy! So thanks for freeing me from the bonds that guilt binds.
Thanks!

Prairie Chick said...

Amen!

daisyeyes said...

You know, I've been learning about perfection a lot lately. The Lord has pushed me so far out of my comfort zone in the things that I have felt so pursued by the Lord to do that there is no way that I could even begin to be perfect in them. HE has truly been made perfect in my weakness!

SuzyQ said...

Great Post.
Blessings ~

:..Rebekah..: said...

I am so glad to read what you are sharing about being a "recovering idealist". You are an encouragement, as I walk down this same road. Thank you!

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

I am SO bad with moderation. I either want to do something completely or not at all.

For example -- exercise. Right now, I can't exercise 3 times a week. I mean, I could, but there are other more important things that I am not doing that I should be doing. . . . So, I think "why exercise at all?"

Beck said...

Wow, this is powerful to think about. Often I DO get frustrated by my ideas of what a "perfect" whatever would be like - what my perfect kitchen would be, what my perfect meal would be - and it saps all of the joy and energy from what I DO have.

Leslie said...

thanks for the gentle reminder

AndiMae said...

Andrea, thank you so much for posting this- I actually read it a few days ago and have been mulling over it ever since! It is such an encouragement to know that I am not the only one whose perfectionism prevents her from things- I am pretty notorious for being a procrastinating perfectionist...You're so right though- doing SOMETHING is so much better than doing nothing!

P.S. I have really been wanting to read something by Edith Schaeffer- which one of her books would you recommend starting with?

Andrea said...

AndiMae,
I really like "Hidden Art of Homemaking" and "What is a Family?"

Both really different, but really great.

Debbie said...

Anytime I start something New, I want it to be perfect. I put my children in a private school (after 23 yrs of Hsing) and I'm trying to figure out how to be the best school mom I can be, as well as make the best use of all the so-called disposable time I have now.

The positive side of this is that I'm dependent on God to help me figure out what to do in my new situation. I get complacent in areas that I think I have "figured out", but when I'm unsure of myself, I feel the need for Him more.

Kristen Laurence said...

Well said, and so true!

Grafted Branch@Restoring the Years said...

Oh, do I need to bookmark this post for future--if not daily--reference!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on perfection...or nothing. ;)

Mrs. U said...

Well, well, well, now THIS is quite a painful post!! :)

I took sewing lessons in the Spring because I've always wanted to learn to sew. My sweet husband even bought me a new sewing machine for Mother's Day. Have I been sewing now? No. You know why? Because I know that if I attempt it on my own, it will not turn out perfect. Oh my. So I attempted nothing and got nothing. Nothing. And just think of all that I COULD have sewn if I had only attempted it.

Sigh.

His,
Mrs. U