Perfectly Satisfied with Imperfection

“In most contexts, being a hard worker committed to excellence is a good thing. A great thing, in fact. For Adam, however, perfectionism isn’t really about working hard and doing his best, it’s about never being satisfied.” — Adam R. Holz, Unplugged Movie Review of  the movie, Burnt.   Ducks in a row photoAfter freaking out about a bathroom remodel before it even started, my mentor Jane said to me, “It will be good, but it won’t be perfect.”  I use that nugget often in life, broadly and specifically. It will be good, but it won’t be perfect. Expect imperfection.

Somewhere I had picked up the notion that perfect was possible, achievable, to be pursued. Whoever whispered that untruth to me, it wasn’t Jesus because He told His friends on the record that they’re going to have trouble. Not just flaws or the occasional glitch. Trouble’s a broad category from bathroom remodels to jobs, organizations, people, places and things. Not gonna be perfect, but it will be good; two very different things.

Okay, I accept that for me, but not my children, there we need things to go perfectly. Dang, it applies to them too. The perfect life thing — not happening. But during my class on grief and trauma I learned that when parents protect their child from pain in his or her life, the child does not learn empathy. They don’t understand heartache so they can’t comfort well. They lack compassion. I want kind children; to tear up when appropriate (or not), to touch the arm of a hurting person, to gasp at others’ misfortune, to pause and offer a deep look-in-the-eye, “I’m so sorry.” Apparently perfect-life children miss the fringe benefits of pain.

Imperfect lives involve mistake-making. Years ago I sat on the family room floor next to a despondent son Ted who said he needed to clean up his act before he approached God. That woman with a past who dared to adore Jesus at a party, “her sins,” Jesus said to the host who treated Him as less than an equal,” which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” God does the clean-up if I acknowledge my mess.

Brene’ Brown titled her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection.” As I scrunch my forehead less and shrug my shoulders more, those gifts come to me. I recite Jane’s words and lower my expectations and I try being grateful for what is instead of mourning what isn’t. I’ve showed myself grace in my mess-ups, realizing I’m a flawed human with potential to do better next time. I am more satisfied.

Topical quote sharing time:

Being a perfectionist doesn’t mean you do things perfectly, it just means you’re obsessed with it.

I’m a mess, you’re a mess. — Anthony DeMello

It’s easier to recover than to be perfect.

Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. — Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 417

Is it possible that our perfectionism is really our desire to be above criticism? — Hazelden literature

Perfection always eludes us and keeps us unhappy with the good we’ve done. — Melody Beattie

It will be good, but it won’t be perfect. — Jane RS