Permission to be Imperfect

“Even perfection has its limits, but your commands have no limit.”

Psalm 119:96 NLT

By: Jennifer Mullen

My name is Jennifer, and I am a perfect-aholic.  It’s true!  I am addicted to perfection.  I am truly unhappy unless I can achieve it, which is why sometimes (most times) I won’t even start a project unless I know I will succeed.  My awareness of this addiction didn’t occur to me until after I saw it manifested in my almost 4-year-old daughter.

I have been working with her for a year to encourage her to write her letters.  As a teacher, I know that most kids do not learn letter formation until 4 or 5, but my daughter is advanced (as all parents like to think). I have used different techniques that I learned in school and practiced with my own students to develop her fine motor skills, but she was very resistant.  Often she would be reduced to tears before she even tried.  Seeing all the signs that she was not ready, we focused on other areas of development. 

Then two weeks ago she asked me how to write the letter “G”.  I was in the middle of making Christmas fudge when I walked over to see that she had written the letters “A”,
“B”, “C”, “D”, “E”, and “F” by herself.  I sat with her as she continued to write the letters through “P”, until she tired and wanted to move on.  I praised her in astonishment. 

How long had she had the ability to do this but was afraid to try?  It is sad to me that she has been handicapped by her own perfectionism.  What saddens me more is this is what she has seen modeled by me. 

As we begin the New Year, we reflect on things we wish to change.  In the past, I have not made any resolutions in fear that I wouldn’t succeed.  This year that is going to be different!  For my sake and the sake of my children, I resolve to try new things even if I may not succeed.  At the end of the year, when I look back on the list of things I tried, I WILL NOT feel guilty about the imperfection.  As the saying goes, “The only real failure in life is the failure to try.” (quote by Sven Goran Eriksson).  I will measure my success by looking at the list of things I gave an honest try. 

Here is a list of my goals for 2012:

1- I will try to develop healthier habits in regards to diet and exercise. Quantifying pounds would lead me to take my focus of off the true goal and set me up for feelings of failure and disappointment.

2- I will try to journal.  I have wanted to record some of the funny things my children have said or done, but I haven’t because I want it to be perfect.  I want to tell it with wit in just the right font including every detail.  Who has time?  But because of my perfectionism hindering me, I have already forgotten some of those precious memories!

3- I will try to take more time for myself.  I am not good about doing this, but it is a sincere need.  I haven’t read a book in the past year.  Maybe I will read The Hunger Games that I bought for myself a month ago.  Or maybe I will skip the book and see the movie in March  (I hear all you avid readers gasping.)  The life of a parent is demanding and unpredictable, and  I will not begrudge the days that it just doesn’t work out.    

 4- I will try to realize that the only true perfection comes from Christ alone.  As I was preparing my thoughts for this post, I was reminded of the truths from Melissa’s post entitled Imperfect.  It amazes me how the other MOMS writings have spoken so deeply to me. 

5- I will strive to look past the imperfections of others (especially my children) and acknowledge that they are on their own journey.  With my gentle guidance when the time is right, my children will reach their potential! 🙂  We are so blessed to serve a God who does the same for His children!

I know I am not alone.  This is something many of us face.  Would any other perfect-aholics like to come forward? 



5 thoughts on “Permission to be Imperfect

  1. Deb Heady

    I struggle with this too – especially in the last year or so – when I start cleaning, it’s not good enough just to pick things up and give it a quick vacuum – I have to move every knick knack and dust – sort through the drawers and cabinets, clean out the refrigerator….and I could go on and on….it is just overwhelming at times. Thanks for reminding me that making an effort is a beginning and every small step brings its rewards and satisfaction. I think oldest children especially have a problem in this area – at least from my observations. I think another thing to remember is that we can’t compare ourselves with others – too often I see all the things my friends get accomplished in a single day and feel like a total failure – I think I need to realize that I may do other things that are important – like keeping in touch with friends – that take up time I could have spent “perfecting” my housecleaning attempts. Thank you for your insight! All of you constantly minister to me!

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