No one has to teach us that perfect is the unofficial goal of American culture: we want straight A’s, the perfect yard, and a tiny waistline.
We’ve been duped into believing that flawless is the only acceptable outcome in every area of our lives. The media has bombarded us with Photoshopped, cellulite-free thighs and wrinkleless fifty-year-old actresses.
When it comes to perfection you have two choices:
1. Work really hard to attain it.
2. Give up.
Whether we work too hard or just give up, both tendencies stem from one main issue: we’ve allowed the myth of perfection to take our minds hostage. We want perfection, and we want it yesternow.
Giving Up on Perfect
Instead of giving up on a perfect idea, what if you gave up on perfection? Go ahead: pick the sofa that is super comfy, knowing that in five years it will have a stain on it and not look brand new. Lower your expectations and realize that as long as we all choose to walk around clothed, the laundry will never really be finished.
If we live fully in a home, there will be messes.
Why does that surprise us and make us feel guilty? As long as we eat, walk, and need places to sit down, the kitchen sink will have a few dirty dishes in it and the living room will never be clutter-free for long.
Giving up is the first step to creating the home you love.
The goal of perfection does nothing but hold you back. Giving up on trying to have the perfect house is a form of rest. In her book Choosing Rest, Sally Breedlove says, “We find rest in the incompleteness of the present moment as we learn to recognize the goodness of what is and we trust that what is needed for the future will be added at the proper time.”
Allowing things in our homes and in our lives to be incomplete, imperfect, and undone in some ways is a form of trust.
Can you give up and allow some imperfections in your life? We get stuck in this way of thinking:
• I want to like my house, therefore I shall change it until I like it.
• I want to like my body, therefore I shall change it until I like it.
• I want to like my life, therefore I shall change it until I like it.
Instead of focusing on this way of thinking, what if you changed what you like? Yes, we can change things in our lives, but we often work hard for change only to figure out that having a pretty room, body, or bank account isn’t all it was cracked up to be.
It’s the same with having the goal of a less messy house. You can learn tips and tricks to help keep your home more put-together and beautiful. Or you can accept the fact that your home will be imperfect and that each season of your family’s life will bring different kinds of beautiful messes.
But here’s the real secret. What if you did both?
What if you were less hard on yourself for the ways you and your home fail, and you looked instead at what’s already there? What if creating a beautiful home was less about stuff and more about attitude? What if you already have everything you need to have the home you’ve always wanted?
You don’t have to get perfect to have a pretty house.
Most of us simply need to learn to see the beauty in the imperfect. Because life is gloriously messy. We can find rest in our less than perfect circumstances when we figure out that no amount of striving can create the perfect life we think we are looking for. True rest comes when we realize that we can’t get it from trying extra hard. We find rest when we give up.
Does giving up on perfect sound possible to you? In what areas of your life do you find it hard to let go of your perfecting tendencies?