Monday, March 18, 2013

Diagnosis: Perfection Infection

The simple joys in my life. A comfy chair. A warm cup of coffee with cream and sugar. A good book.


Sometimes I read a non-fiction book that completely rocks my world. In the past month I've read three: No More Perfect Moms by Jill Savage, How Am I Smart by Dr. Kathy Koch, and Intuitive Eating. This past weekend I had the opportunity to hear both Jill Savage and Dr. Kathy speak at the Hearts at Home National Conference. As much as I was blown away by the content of their books, I was even more so convicted and comforted by their presentations at the conference. Today I'm going to reflect on Jill's presentation "No More Perfect Moms."

Jill's message: there are no perfect moms, and we need allow to ourselves and others the space to make mistakes. Jill calls that angst we feel as part of our desire to be perfect "perfection infection"...and boy oh boy have I had that. The feeling that my house, marriage, children, career, and body all need to be perfect. And rather than motivating me to become a better person it makes me anxious, sad, and always inadequate. You don't have to be a mom to feel the negative effects of perfection infection. Everyone has areas of their life that they feel the unnecessary pressure to be perfect, whether it be from your own mind or from family, workplace, or other social groups.

In the season of motherhood, perfection infection often starts with the minute we find out we are carrying or make the decision to adopt. What is the BEST way to feed our child? Diaper our child? Set a sleep schedule (or let the child chose their own)? And somewhere along the way we find that we've not only been trying to find what is best for our own household, but we start judging others if their decision differs from our own.

And we need to stop it.

We need to stop having unrealistic expectations on our marriages, children, careers, homes, and most of all on ourselves. We are not a failure if the house is less than clean or if our children misbehave in public.  Perfection infection at times has kept me from inviting others over to my house because I was afraid of what they would think of the mess or the imperfect d├ęcor. I’ve held back from introducing myself to others out of fear of what they would think of how I looked. I’ve spent way too much time and energy worrying that others wouldn’t like me because of my size. I’ve spent money I didn’t have to buy things I didn’t need to impress people I don’t even know. I’ve unfairly chastised my children in public for misbehaving when their only crime was being a kid.

And I want to stop. I want to embrace the perfect imperfection  in my life. I don’t want my tombstone to say “She had an immaculate house, a great figure, a perfect marriage, and well behaved kids.” My desire is that at the end of my life others would be able to say that I was welcoming, gracious, compassionate, and authentic. And that starts today. And tomorrow. And the next day. Because invariably I will fail at trying to let go of my infection perfection.

How about you? How is perfection infection holding you back from what you really want to be?

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