Words intended to impart grace only settle with a sting in a prideful heart. And perhaps that’s why his comment was more frustrating than freeing to me.
Per usual, it was as I climbed under the covers at night that I finally faced the state of my soul. And I was unraveling at the seams but trying desperately to hold it together.
You’ve gotta be able to give up a little bit.
I had just filled his ear with my failures and a list of every way in which I fell short. I was angry at myself for not being a loving wife, a disciplined worker, a healthy eater, or a productive doer. I was angry to the point of tears and his suggestion was to give up a few inches, to cut some slack. Well, that was even more maddening.
I wanted him to tell me I’m superwoman. That I can wear all the hats and play all the roles. And not just that, but do it all perfectly too. I wanted him to reassure me that tomorrow’s a new day and that tomorrow I’d be perfect. I wanted him to feed me an impossible lie; instead he offered an option of freeing truth.
But it was a truth I wasn’t ready to hear. And as I look back, I see it wasn’t really about my husband or health or anything else at all. It wasn’t about falling short and failing others. No, if I were to be honest, it was all about me. And only me. I cared more that I wasn’t perfect than I did about a husband receiving only half attention. Or than I did about the dirty dishes. Or the missed workouts. Or the friends on the other end of the un-made phone calls.
Perfectionism is simply pride disguised.
And maybe that’s why I wasn’t ready for his words. Because I didn’t want to own up to imperfection.
I didn’t want to admit need. I didn’t want to identify with inadequacy, lack, or less than enough.
Perfectionism is paralyzing because single mistakes become insurmountable obstacles. And when we can’t get over the fact that we can’t do it all, we find ourselves too distraught to do anything.
But joy comes in freedom. And freedom is only found in facing truth. The truth that we are, at our very best, imperfect.
To give up on perfect means no more… No more striving at the expense of those around us. No more martyr attitudes when our efforts end up short and all we have is exhaustion to show for it.
But it also means more… More presence and peace. More reassurance in where we’re at and who we are. More purpose in perhaps a lesser number of roles. And above all, more than anything, grace.
Grace for ourselves that we will put forth our most valiant effort in all that we do, and yet sometimes come up short. Less than who we want to be. And that’s okay.
Perfection will tell you to throw in the towel, but grace will remind you of a savior who’s bridged the gap. Perfection will lead to despair but grace will remind you of tomorrow’s hope. Not that tomorrow we will be perfect. But that tomorrow we may be graced with another try.
In perfection, we steamroll the souls around us in the name of productivity and accomplishment. But grace walks with soft edges—inviting, engaging, identifying.
So it’s time to give up a little bit.
And today I’ll listen to words that first stung. But this time I’ll give them a try. I’ll give a few inches. I’ll stop striving for the impossible ideal.
And in giving up, I think I might just gain something greater.
Because perhaps I’ll be a better woman relinquishing my personal quest for perfection and clinging instead to the only One who is.
Question to comment or contemplate: What areas of our own lives to we need to “give up a little bit?”