I have worked on the perfect post to capture my topsy-turvy, upside-down life. It covered our move, the start of school, the redesign of my web site, and the hurricane. It’s a thrill-a-minute ride—both my post and my life—like trying to sleep on a bucking bronco.
I just couldn’t seem to finish it, my post that is, so I took a good hard look at it—it meaning my life.
It’s not like I lost my love for words. Ask the little people. I use several hundred thousand daily, instructing, correcting, loving, fussing. Talk to Hubby. His “honey, do” lists resemble research papers. My sky-blue datebook is filled with handwritten notes and appointments and ideas. My laptop suns at soccer games, sits quietly in libraries, and rests in the church parking lot. I bet TD stays home more than my computer.
But while I sweated over each word the winds stopped blowing and the waters receded. The little people learned about percentiles and human geography. My new site went live. We unpacked and rearranged the furniture. No matter how much I polished and reworked and tweaked and edited, I just couldn’t perfect that post. Finally, I determined that the words themselves weren’t the issue. It was my need to get each one right.
Jesus, we have a problem.
And it’s not a disingenuous “My only weakness is I’m a perfectionist” answer to an interview question. It’s a “Lord, I’m laying this before you to help me overcome it” need.
I’ve confessed it before, this fear of falling short. Perhaps you struggle with it, too, despite your attempts to lay it at His feet. Perfectionism may disguise itself as motherliness (“Are you wearing those shoes to church?”), micromanagement (“Doublecheck the recipe, the one at the top of the page, and don’t go above 350°— remember the oven dial is sensitive so you need to slowly turn it. And did I say it’s the recipe at the top?”), hindsight (“Maybe this means we shouldn’t have moved. This has been so hard.”), or planning (“If he starts fractions by fourth grade then he can take calculus in twelfth, but if we don’t do that combined algebra 2 and geometry program in ninth he won’t be ready for AP…”). Yet it was all the same to me: believing I was in charge of getting it all right, that the fate of the little people, Hubby, my neighbors, my parents, and my publishing career rested on my every decision. My worries about doing the wrong thing prevented me from doing anything at all. Then I fretted over my lack of productivity.
So, the post went…unfinished.
…and folks uninvited to both my works-in-progress, my second book and our new house. I wouldn’t let anyone read the former or anyone enter the latter since there are plentiful holes in both. I kept my carpets tightly rolled up until I was ready to roll them out.
…and laundry undone because I like it sorted, washed, folded a certain way, and put away immediately. I waited for the stars to align while Hubby employed his philosophy: Better clean and wrinkled than naked.
…and literature untaught while I sweated over our interdisciplinary study. How many books should we cover? How do I weave in their vocabulary program? Should I simply open The Grapes of Wrath or Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and call it a day?
…and compliment sandwiches dispersed to the little people. I squeezed “helpful” criticism between layers of “That’s great, but” and “This is better.” Yet these sandwiches left them undernourished. They didn’t feed their need for building confidence, learning from their mistakes, and trusting themselves.
And most importantly, did they satisfy their need for God? Nope.
When I focus on my internal mirror, I only see imperfect self: Robin who leaves five minutes later than she should, looks like she enjoys Southern cooking, is addicted to commas and semi-colons, runs from things she has dominion over, and believes one post will a publishing career make. But it’s Who I don’t see that matters: a holy, perfect, unfailing God Who’s ready, willing, and more than able. The God Who doesn’t need to me to dot every i, select the right curriculum, know the traffic patterns, pre-sort the laundry, roll out the red carpet, or write a best seller to accomplish His will. Yes, His will, not mine. I need to fix my eyes on Him and He’ll make me look good; in fact, He’ll make me disappear completely. He perfects that which concerns me. (Hebrews 12:2, Psalm 138:8)
So armed with my new outlook, I started (and finished) a new post.
…and invited a friend over.
…and ordered A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
…and treated my little people to more filling, less bread.
…and the laundry? Well, Hubby can take that hamper and run with it.
At my age, I accept that wrinkles add character.
The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands. (Psalm 138:8)