Like most people, I tend to deal with perfectionism.
Perfectionism can take on different forms – in fact, I believe it can be as varied and unique as the persons who struggle with it.
My perfectionism tends to rear its ugly head in a rather subtle form. In fact, it can be mistaken for positive qualities, such as efficiency and diligence. Only those closest to me would know that the motives behind it just might not be all that pure.
This is the lie that perfectionism tells me: If it’s going to be done right, I just need to go ahead and do it, because no one can get as close to perfect as I can. When my children were younger, this is what the perfectionism would tell me…
If the kitchen is going to be cleaned according to my specifications, I’m going to have to clean it.
If the laundry is going to be done according to my requirements, I’m going to have to do it.
If the house is going to be cleaned to my standards of cleanliness, I’m going to have to clean it.
If the children are going to be parented right, I’m just going to have to do the parenting – by myself.
So, you see, this series of Simple Tips for Peace is truly documentation of my own personal journey toward freedom from perfectionism.
I have learned that perfectionism has two equally evil and disturbing halves…
“you will never be good enough, but you should die trying”
“since you can never do or be good enough, what’s the point?”
It is a civil war going on inside the brain – between compulsion and apathy.
You may not struggle with perfectionism. If you don’t, that’s wonderful!
But… I’m convinced that we all deal with feelings of inadequacy and failure. It’s a universal lie that women hear whispered or screamed a billion times a day.
Of course, nothing is going to heal the wound we seem to be born with except the grace and love of Jesus. Just knowing He accepts and loves me is enough to make me want to pry my fingers off of the stuff in my life that I feel like I need to white knuckle. His understanding/mercy is the only substance in the universe that makes me okay with not having control.
When we let go of control, and the need for perfection, we can do something that will bless the whole family: delegate.
You may have no issue with handing out jobs to anyone standing by, but many moms, with whom I’ve spoken, definitely feel almost panic just thinking of their offspring’s messy kitchen clean-up, or their husband’s seemingly haphazard style of “folding” clothes.
Being willing to delegate is a huge leap for some of us. But when we think about the work we heap on ourselves because we are hanging on so tightly to the reigns, we are only thinking about part of the picture.
The truth is this: our kids need to learn how to do these jobs and be part of our team, our husbands need to know that their contributions to running the house are (gulp!) good enough, and WE need to let loose and be okay with their less-than-perfect work.
For the first ten years of my marriage, I basically ran myself into the ground with my perfectionism. Nobody could do anything to help me, because they couldn’t do it well enough – and quite honestly, I didn’t want their help. I felt like so many areas of my life were so completely out of control, that I wanted to grasp the areas that I could make the way I wanted. At least I would have control over that!
It has been an amazing journey of letting go and learning to delegate. My family has used many types of lists and charts to help me with this. Over the years, every type of chart you can imagine has had a temporary home on our fridge. From menu plans with simple, doable meals for my girls to make, to “zone cleaning” charts that, quite honestly, lasted for about a month.
I’ve come a long way in the last fifteen years – I haven’t arrived anywhere, but I’ve finally gotten to the place of being able to look the other way when something isn’t done “as well” as I would like.
So, there you have it. Being able to delegate really does help bring peace and sanity.
On a side note…
As I’ve learned this lesson, I realize that my need for control doesn’t just make my workload heavier, it leaks into all of the other areas of my life, causing me to be the master burden-bearer of my family. God does not intend for me to do this. I wish I could say that this is something that I have completely conquered, but, in all honesty, it isn’t. It is a weakness that I have to constantly confront and be proactive about.
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
By delegating Jesus to be my burden bearer, I feel so much more rested in my spirit.
If you haven’t tried it, you ought to – you may really like it!
What tasks do you delegate? Or are there things you wish you could delegate to someone else, but you’re not quite ready to let go? Share your experiences in the comments, I’d love to know how other parents navigate this area of life.