“Live by Grace not perfection” author unknown.
I am not sure who said this however I know it resonates with me every time I read it. It resonated with me differently a couple of months ago than it does today. Today, I am struggling with the feeling that I have nothing going “right”. Why is it that we want everything to be perfect? I completely understand wanting things to be nice, orderly, etc but “perfect”; is that really possible?
As wives, we want our marriage to be perfect, our houses to always be clean (perfect), laundry to be done and neatly put away (perfection), dinner to always be a hit, the list goes on. As mothers, we feel like a failure when our child doesn’t fit in the box that society has built for them. Also as mothers we want our kids to be the best, make the team, always get along, be the top of the class….perfection. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with striving for excellence. This becomes a problem when we put our perception of things being less than perfect before anything else. When we compromise our relationship with our spouse because nothing seems to be perfect. Or we decide to call it quits, hang it all up, file for divorce because they are no longer the “perfect” match….boom yes I said it. Here’s another one: we damage our relationship with our children because we push them too hard to become the “perfect” child. Or we stop pushing them at all because we have labeled them a failure (in our minds) only because they didn’t meet our high standards or their dream and our dream for them didn’t match up. Again, nothing wrong with striving for excellence but it has to be kept in check.
So why is it that we push so hard for “perfection”? Why can’t we extend ourselves, our spouses, or our children as much grace as we do our friends or brothers/sisters in Christ? We are often less judgmental of our friends, their children, those we see at church, in the grocery store, etc than we are our own family. We need to learn this. I am not saying that we should stop setting expectations for our children and/or goals for them to strive to achieve but we need to extend some grace when they don’t meet them. For our spouses, extend some grace, go have coffee or breakfast together (without children or anyone else) and have the conversations we need to. Learn to work through the difficult times together.
Almost last, we need to extend some grace to ourselves (as wives/mothers/women). We are not expected to cover it all, do it all, make everything “perfect”. Yes, the house should be clean but there is nothing wrong with asking for some help or hiring someone to do it. Yes, we all want a dinner that everyone raves about but guess what pizza once or twice a week accomplishes the same result. Yes, we take it personally when our children aren’t getting the grades we did or that we expect them to; here’s a thought, see if they can get some extra credit or have a student that is doing well in the subject to come help them. It does not all fall on our shoulders. We get caught up in the cycle of needing everything to fall in place when we need to just sit back, relax and let God be God. Let Him take care of what we can not. Give yourself some grace.
Lastly, we need to present over perfect. We need to be present in our marriage. We need to be present with our children. We need to spend time with them. We need to be present in situations with our family and friends. Not one of these need us to be perfect.
I can say all of this because I fight these battles every day myself. If I am not the one fighting these battles, someone very close to me is and I can see first hand how it affects their lives, their happiness, their SANITY.
“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” Anne Lamott