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The Prison of Perfectionism

Are you trapped in a prison of perfectionism? If not, consider yourself fortunate! I feel like the pressure to “be perfect” is everywhere! Magazines. . .commercials . . .Facebook. . . family. Especially this time of year. If you’re hosting a holiday meal, the pressure to have the perfect gathering can be overwhelming. . . but does it have to be?

For years my mom hosted all holiday meals effortlessly – or at least that’s how it seemed.

Beautiful table, tranquil atmosphere, and the most delicious food.

I’m not sure if she wiggled her nose or blinked her eyes, but it was like everything magically came together. I don’t remember her stressing out about anything! Maybe she locked herself in the bathroom and cried into a towel, then dried her eyes and pulled it all together for us.  I don’t know. All I had to do was show up, sit down, and enjoy! Mom has such a big heart to serve and a true talent for being a great hostess. Pretty sure those traits didn’t get passed along to me, but maybe that’s ok. She never once told me I had to be that way.  She didn’t have to. . .I put that pressure on myself. That and “Real Simple” magazine! Just wish it truly was. So I keep asking myself, can it be. . .simple?

Maybe. I’m officially hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my family for the first time, so I’m going to try. But honestly, it puts my perfectionist tendencies into high gear! I’m trying to tell myself that I don’t have to be that way, but it’s like trying to run against the wind, hurricane-strength wind that is!

Old habits waging war against new choices. Man, this is going to be a big test!

So the first battle began with trying to find ten cups in my house that matched. Seriously. Cups of all things. I started looking and found two St. Louis Cardinals ones, four M&M, three green, but not a set of ten that totally matched. Does it even matter? I posted the question on facebook.

Sweet friends started telling me that a better way to say mismatched is eclectic. That does make it sound all cool casual. Some even offered that I could borrow theirs. I love the free option. Better yet, my husband commented we should use plastic, and then we can just throw them away when we’re done. What a guy! Fewer dishes sounds great, but can I do it? For Thanksgiving? And what do I serve? Do I have to make everything, or can I buy some things? So many questions, so many decisions –help!

Then I saw A.J.’s post, and it became a game changer for me. A.J. A young boy we go to church with. A teenager the same age as my daughter who lost his mama to cancer this past year.

“It’s the family that counts, not the food.”

Thank you, A.J. Perspective is so good.

Family. People. Relationships. Love.  That’s what counts, not matching cups.

Thank you, Lord, that mom & dad who are in their mid-70’s are still totally able to come celebrate. Thank you that my sister-in-law, who has had so much pain with losing three family members this past year, is here to join us. Thank you for my two healthy children and my husband who I’m still crazy in love with after 20 years. And thank you for my new great-nephew Clarke! Nothing like a baby in the house. It’s been so long!

I’m going to break free from the prison of perfectionism I’ve been locked in for so long, and try something new. . .being content. That’s what Paul talks about in the Bible. He actually wrote these wise words from a real prison, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Phil 4:12,13.  God will give me the strength I need to be content. “He will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:19

Needs, not unrealistic expectations of perfectionism.  Is it really that simple?  I think it can be. “Set you minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2

Heavenly Father, please give me your perspective as I prepare for this Thanksgiving meal and always. Help me to seek what you desire. Not for everything to be perfect, but for us to love one another. Amen!