My daughter climbed into the minivan after school and nailed me with Mom-guilt before she even sat down and buckled on her seatbelt.
“Mom, why didn’t you come to National School Lunch Day and have lunch with me like all the other moms?”
I sucked in my breath and battled the personal demons of fear of failure, perfectionism, and people-pleasing like I was fighting a sneak attack from a three-headed monster.
This beloved child of mine was essentially throwing kryptonite at me and bringing Supermom to her knees.
We had talked about this. I had sat these girls down at the kitchen table and explained to them that I didn’t like to come on the ever-popular National School Lunch Day when the cafeteria was crowded and loud and it wasn’t a good day for me to come this year, anyway.
I have lunch in the school cafeteria with each of my girls every single month on our own ‘special’ day of my own choosing when it fits with our schedule and when we can actually sit and enjoy each other’s company without shouting over the ambient noise of 150 kids plus their parents and grandparents.
In fact, it was on my calendar to have lunch with this very same child just two days later.
But she nailed me with disappointment anyway.
It nagged at me persistently all afternoon even though I knew what she wanted of me wasn’t fair or right or true.
Still I felt the weight of condemnation:
A good mom would have gone to National School Lunch day.
You disappointed her.
You just need to try harder, do more, be more.
Few things cripple the heart of a perfectionist like fear of disappointing your child.
(Or fear of messing them up so much they’ll spend their entire adult life in counseling. Or never move out of your house and lead a healthy adult life. There’s that.)
We’re desperately terrified of failing at this. We know God gave us these precious gifts and from the moment that pregnancy test line appears, we feel the full weight of this responsibility.
Then you hold that newborn life in your hands in a hospital room in the dark of that first night without sleep and you know how desperate you are for God’s help to do this right.
But I read this in Courtney DeFeo’s book, In This House We Will Giggle:
“I don’t want to be Jesus for my kids; I just want to draw them close to Him. I don’t need to be perfect, because He already is… I have to remind myself daily that God offers grace. Yes, we are going to mess up. We will not, cannot, get all this parenting stuff just right. But God fills in the gaps and gives us tremendous grace and mercy along the road.”
That grace fills up my mercy-starved lungs so I can breathe again.
Sometimes I need to let the guilt go.
I need to let the perfection go.
I don’t need to be Jesus for my kids.
In fact, if I try to be Jesus to them, I’ll block their view and they won’t see Christ at all ’cause my bumbling shadow is in the way.
I’m spending this month pursuing the presence of Christ by learning to Abandon Perfection.
Because as long as I keep up the pretense of being perfect, I can’t collapse into the grace-filled arms of my Savior—not as a woman, not as a mom.
And grace is what I need.
I read in Scripture about the woman who splashed that expensive perfume all over the dusty feet of Christ. Those self-righteous men at the table criticized her offering and mocked her worship.
But Jesus said,
Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me…She has done what she could (Mark 14:6, 8).
All those Pinterest boards tell me hundreds of ways I need to be a better mom.
The blog posts overwhelm me with plans and programs and ideas.
The parenting magazines show me everything I’m doing wrong.
The Facebook pictures show everyone else doing it right.
But that’s not life. That’s not real life anyway. That’s the suffocation of perfectionism, impossible standards, guilt and failure.
Ann Voskamp says:
Perfectionism isn’t a fruit of the spirit…Joy is.
Oh, if there’s anything I want it’s the Joy of Jesus in this home.
And here’s the joy I find: I don’t need to be perfect.
I just need to give what I have and do what I can and bring these kids to Jesus.
I’m not enough. I’m not perfect.
But He is.
To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below! Won’t you join me this month as I ‘Abandon Perfection?
- Finding Room to Breathe: A 12-month pursuit of the presence of Christ
- January: Be Still and Know
- February: Pray Simply
- March: Unplug
- April: Enjoy Beauty
- May: Create Beauty
- June: Invest in Friendship
- July: Retreat and Refresh
- August: Learn to Say, “No”
- September: Learn When to Say, “Yes”
- October: Find the Sacred in the Ordinary
- November: Practice Sabbath-Keeping
- December: Abandon Perfection
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2014 Heather King