What is your standard of perfection?
And who designed that for you?
A few evenings ago, I sat down with my husband to share with him some emotions and fears that I had been experiencing lately. I expressed to him that I feel like I am failing as a mom. That every day I feel like I’m just not doing enough and perfectionism is robbing me of joy.
For example: My son, Sutton, is a relatively good eater, yet I beat myself up over his eating habits during every single meal. He’s continuously sick and I feel like I’m never doing enough to prevent it. I feel tremendously guilty any day that I feel tired and therefore don’t spend hours of quality time teaching him new things or going on educational adventures. There are honestly a lot of days in which I live in a constant state of anxiety about not being ‘the perfect mom’ to my sweet boy and, of course, I’m so far from perfect it’s not even funny.
But where does this obsession with perfectionism even begin? With our careers, with our bodies, with our success and as a spouse, a parent and a Christian – we strive endlessly to be more than enough. We are never satisfied with just resting where we are and knowing that we’re doing the best we can.
Isn’t it true that, oftentimes, our ideals of perfection are designed by a combination of everyone else’s achievements? We view bits and pieces of multiple people’s lives and place them together like a puzzle that fits our standard of perfection. The problem is that this perfectly-pieced puzzle is not real and it’s not tangible. Yet, we strive for it endlessly as if it were.
Do you ever find yourself doing things just for the approval or admiration of the people closest to you?
How about acquaintances you hardly even know?
Do you find yourself comparing your accomplishments with those of the people you grew up with or the people you surround yourself with now? I want to gently encourage you to stop looking over your shoulder at their lives and wishing you could be more, do more or have more so that others see you as ‘enough’.
When we live our lives hungry for approval, we aren’t able to get outside of ourselves long enough to pay due attention to others as we should. And every time we long for someone else’s gifts, we are missing out on the gifts that God has created very specifically for us.
In the moments that we find our worth by achieving perfection, every time we fall short we feel a little bit more “worthless.” But, sweet friends, you are so far from worthless. Perfect will never equal worthy.
So why are you so hard on yourself?
No matter how hard you try, how hard you strive, you will never achieve the end that you’re pursuing.
And that’s totally okay. Because you’re doing the best you can.
When we work endlessly toward “more, more, more”, we allow ourselves to be robbed of joy, filled with anxiety or envy and are left feeling as if we are failing every single day. When we achieve “more”, it will never be enough. No matter how close we get, we will never be fully satisifed.
In my quiet moments, I often have to stop and ask: Am I truly failing myself every day? Or do just I feel like I’m disappointing the people whom I have allowed to define my self-worth?
Friends – what are the missed achievements, long-gone hopes or extremely high standards that are holding you hostage today? Anything that imposes itself on your self-worth and causes you to doubt or question who you are has the ability to enslave you.
I want to encourage you to wake up to what is really important and fight your way out of that bondage. Your striving for perfectionism will never be fulfilled and these empty pursuits that we work so hard toward will one day just wither away.
Let’s be honest, on our death beds, are we going to care if someone else was prettier than us? More successful than us? Had a more beautiful home than we had? More Instagram followers? Had given their children more organic food than we did? Was more ‘put together’ than us?
Our lives are more fleeting than we want to admit. And in those final moments, we are only going to care about whether we loved people, whether we were loved by people and if we served God to the fullest.
At the end of the day, what are the things that really matter to you? If you’re doing the best that you can in those areas, rest in Jesus. He gives us the beautiful freedom to walk away from these endless and empty desires that push us to prove ourselves to the world.
And because He is enough, you will always be enough.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
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