So often in life my desire to excel and to produce only flawless results has had a way of pushing me to quit a new endeavor unless I�m a standout superstar at it right away. Since becoming a mom, I�ve been working hard on overcoming this trait of mine because I don�t want my children to sit on the sidelines of any activity in life just because they�re not the best at it or because they have to work harder at it. And also because motherhood has a way of humbling you. I work so hard to create, to gestate, to mold children and love them well, but just like their mother, they are not flawless. I have to accept them and myself with all of our faults and quirks and loose stitches.
I�ve been pondering my own tendency towards perfectionism this week and it�s lovely to see how Kate’s thoughts are treading similar ground. Such a comfort. Isn�t that funny? But it is, knowing I�m not alone in this strange war with myself. I love what Kate says about mediocrity humbling you:
Mediocrity used to terrify me; now it humbles me. This has been a year of focusing on progress instead of perfection, and what better way to embrace that than to give knitting a try again?
The other day I had a conversation with Isabella who was lamenting that so often her photos are blurry. (Yes, the same Isabella who took these stunning photos.) I tried to commiserate with her, letting her know that all of us take blurry photos. And telling her that some of her photos are blurry but that some of them are beautiful, transporting.
Now I�m pondering how I can nurture in her the courage to accept her own failures, to take the blurry along with the clear. Thanks to the wonderful generosity of a couple of beautiful ladies, I have a box of beautiful yarn waiting for the opportunity. But I’ve been a bit scared to dive in. Is it possible I am afraid of failure? Of imperfection not only in myself but in my daughters as well. Silly, since I was so bold in accepting the yarn that once I actually saw it I suddenly found myself feeling intimidated. I think before too much longer we are both going to learn how to knit, Isabella and I. Together. So that I can show her my own willingness to embrace a hard task, to embrace mediocrity, to persevere in the face of difficulty.
Lately I�ve been trying to see the positive side of perfectionism. After all, God made us this way, didn�t he? If we care inordinately about getting things right, about making them perfect, then that is how God made us. That drive must have been somehow a part of his plan. So why did God make me a perfectionist? How does this drive for not just good enough but for perfection serve him?
I�m not sure I�ve found the answer. I think I need to spend more time asking him and listening to his answers. But I wonder if the yearning for perfection isn�t a part of our yearning for God himself? He is the only perfect being and the only true source of order. So maybe the real purpose of this drive we have is to point us to him. And perhaps all our frustration with the imperfections in ourselves and in the world is really an awareness of the fallen nature of this world, an awareness of how all have sinned and fallen short, of how all creation groans as it awaits its redemption.
Perhaps if I can turn my drive for the perfect into a drive to listen and learn God�s perfect will then I won�t have to be at war with my own perfectionism but can use it as it was meant to be used, to love and to serve God and my brothers and sisters in Christ.