Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Poison of Perfectionism

 (Please note: This is a repeat of an article I wrote on another blog over a year ago. I want to share it here, because I feel it is very applicable to mothers like us who are doing our best to be a force for good in the world and our homes-- though we usually fall short, simply because we are human. I need to be reminded from time to time that God accepts my efforts, imperfect though they are.) 

I am a perfectionist. I hate it when things don't go the way I think they should. I get so angry at myself, and the self-loathing starts. Then I can't seem to do anything "right."

So I do nothing.

My kids suffer, my house suffers, my poor husband suffers, and I suffer.

Today, I am trying to look at things in my life in a more reasonable way. I am not perfect now, and will never be in this life-- perfection is for the next life.

Tuesday morning I woke up early with a panic attack about some little matter that I had not resolved. Luckily, I was able to get back to sleep while nursing my baby. But when I woke up at about 7am, the black cloud engulfed me. "I can't do anything right. Why did I think I could get -- accomplished? Why did I volunteer to help with---? I always mess things up."

On and on these dark thoughts battered me. I thought of the sink of dirty dishes I had left undone, the laundry I had forgotten about, the reading I didn't accomplish, the weight I need to lose, etc. I began to cry.

My wonderful husband-- heaven bless him-- comforted me. He found some essential oils to help me emotionally, and proceeded to rub my feet. I began to feel a bit better. The black cloud lifted slightly, and I could see a ray of light peeking through!

Then I asked my true love to give me a priesthood blessing, and the Lord spoke beautiful words through him. I was reminded that my Father in Heaven loves me, and does not expect perfection of me. He knows I have great potential and infinite worth, and that I should never forget that. I was also told that the adversary desires to have me, and bringing me down in the depths of despair is one way that he can get to me.

My home is never going to be 100% clean for more than a brief instant. The laundry will never be "done," and I will never spend all the time I wish I could studying. It's okay!

Only today will my toddler grasp my neck and say "I wuzsch you, Mama!" Only today will my daughter have her first church youth activity. Only now will my ten-year-old son ask me what new book on the shelf he should read next, my baby to smile big enough to show her dimples, my little artist to beg for some space on the fridge, my four-year-old to grin mischieviously, my son to make "Silly Putty" in the kitchen, and my five-year-old to ask for help with his paper airplane.


And "good" does not have to be "perfect" to bring me JOY.

What a relief...

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