Imperfect is good enough.

9 Dec

Like many women, I struggle with an all-or-nothing mentality. Especially around this time of year when I feel like there is so much to do and so little time! Add to that a job I hate and a beach vacation the first week of January (who’s in bikini shape right after Christmas!?!?) and you’ve got a recipe for stress and many woe-is-me days.

I’ve been slightly on an emotional edge the past few days… ok, the past week… ok, the past month… ok, really since I knew I wanted to quit my job but couldn’t (which has been since the end of October). And I disliked my job long before that. Maybe I’m being a big baby, maybe I’m concentrating too much on the negatives, maybe I just need to buck up and stop complaining. I’m pretty sure all of those things are true. But the reality of the situation has not gone away – I have a really hard time being happy when I have a job I hate. And when I say hate, I mean that the very thought of doing any kind of work even remotely related to my job makes me cringe inside. I mean that I clock 3-4 hours a day by sheer grit and willpower, not because there’s even an inkling of enjoyment in it for me. I mean that I can be happy about something, smiling and skipping down the street, then I remember my job and dark rain clouds roll over my joy.

Anyway, take that whole situation and add in trying to care about my job just even a little, trusting God with getting a new job, making dinner for friends, wrapping presents, writing Christmas cards, mailing presents, decorating the house, being a hostess for a Christmas tea at church, getting in biking shape and all the other things I think I “should” be doing (like reading more, baking Christmas cookies, chitchatting with our neighbors, posting stuff to sell on ebay, and the other 25 things on my to-do list). Just a tad bit overwhelming.

I’m not writing all this to show how much more I do than anyone else. In fact, I’m pretty sure that most women out there are busier than I am. But I think we all have this tendency to think that we have to do it all perfectly, or we might as well do none of it. At least that’s my temptation. If I allow myself to get so overwhelmed that I can see there’s even the possibility of failure, I want to collapse in a heap on the floor and weep. “Why is life so hard?” I ask myself.

Well, because I’m making it that way. Instead of making these unrealistic standards, like I have to have Christmas decorations that look like they’re straight from Martha Stewart, or I need to healthy all day long and I’m never going to eat chocolate again, or I need to read a book a week, or I can never watch TV because that is wasting time that could be spent doing some productive, I need to remind myself that imperfection is good enough.

Instead of looking at the entire mountain of things to do and feeling completely paralyzed or depressed, I need to just take one thing, one manageable thing that I can do right then and do it. It may be as small as putting away a book. It could be doing the dishes, or accomplishing one step of Christmas cards, or reading just a couple verses from the Bible. And I’ve found that once I’ve gotten over the initial panic of “I can’t do all this!”, I get into the groove and accomplish more than I expected.

I also need to let go of this idea that everything has to be perfect. My Christmas decorations can have a quirky doesn’t-quite-go-together kind of feel. I can do the exercises at the gym that I know how to do instead of following the newest “Bikini Body in 28 Days!” routine that involves twisting, pulling, jumping, and screaming (that might just be my version). I can read a few pages of a book before falling asleep at night. I can let the dishes pile up in the sink and do them tomorrow.

At the core of all of this is a belief that God is the one who has everything under control. He is the one who makes it all happen, not me. It is also believing that these things I have decided that I “have to do” don’t add or subtract anything to His love for me. He loves me the most He ever will right now, because He loves me with the same love with which He loves His Son, Jesus. Did you know that it actually says that in the Bible? John 17:23 says …”that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” That’s amazing.

It is Christ’s perfection that frees us to be imperfect, to be human, to not have it all together. That doesn’t mean we don’t try to do our best. It means we don’t get discouraged by failure or depressed by overwhelming odds. We should walk through this victorious, knowing that “steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.” How I need so desperately to believe that truth in this season of my life! It is so easy to let these slight and momentary afflictions take my eyes off God and His sovereign goodness. But I mustn’t. I must keep looking to Him, trusting in Him, resting in Him. “I lift my eyes to the hills; where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, of the things you feel weighing you down with their urgency and importance, look to Christ and his perfection. Be content with your own unique human imperfection, remembering that “our sufficiency is from God.”

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