As a perfectionist, I feel most satisfied at the end of the day when I feel like I did everything right. The day doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect, but as long as I do what I think is good in any given circumstance, I am happy and can sleep peacefully. In fact, at times, my desire to do what I feel is right has kept me from actually doing what is most important. I strive in my flesh to achieve greatness as a mother, wife, and as an individual, and that, at times, is the very thing that keeps me from achieving greatness in God’s eyes. God has been trying to teach me this my whole life… but now that I am a wife and mother, to me, my flaws have become 100% more evident.
Being a wife and mother to two (after only being married for three years) is really hard! I absolutely love it, but it is the most difficult thing I have ever done. My flesh has to die multiple times every day. I see, more and more, how deeply flawed I am… I cannot escape my flaws. They are there and love to flaunt how imperfect I am. I fail daily and it absolutely kills me.
If I respond impatiently with my son, I failed that day and am the worst mother in the world. If I am gracious and patient, my heart is happy and I feel like a “good” mother. If I maintain a clean house and I do everything I need to have an organized and neat home, then by the end of the day I will allow myself to rest. If not, I most likely will not be able to sleep until absolutely everything is clean and tidy. Sounds like so much fun, doesn’t it? If I eat one cookie then I absolutely failed and I might as well just eat ALL of them, because I already failed by eating that one and I will just restart tomorrow. Wow! Am I crazy, or what?! This has been my life. It is exhausting and makes me feel like I am going crazy. I can never seem to be “good enough.”
I greatly desire to be a woman of excellence, and this desire has the ability to make me act in ways that I don’t consider to be “excellent.” This creates a real frustration and disappointment in me. Recently I was sharing this struggle with my husband, and he responded to my dismay by saying,
“You should pursue discovering who you are, rather than how good you are.”
Those simple words really helped to open my eyes and helped me shift the way I think about my values. I am flawed indeed, but I am learning that when I strive for perfection in my own strength, I don’t get the results that I am looking for. I may be able to obtain the “perfect” body, but is it really beautiful if I do so by hating the body I currently have? I may be able to have several days where I don’t lash out at my children or husband, but if I do so from a heart motivated by self-hatred and the need to be “perfect” all of the time, is it truly beautiful? I may be able to maintain the cleanest, neatest house, but if I do so from a place of stress and anxiety, is it really beautiful? No. It is not.
I believe one of the greatest tricks of the enemy is to waste time. This is why the enemy tries so hard to get us to be religious. If he can sink our minds into habit, he will prevent our hearts from engaging God. I am tired of living that way. I am tired of the empty striving, and I don’t want to waste any more time. I want my life to be TRULY beautiful. TRULY meaningful.
So now, my goal isn’t just to do everything right, but to do everything from a place in my heart that reflects the person who God created me to be. My body may not be perfect, but my heart is happy and thankful for the body I was blessed with. I may not be the perfect mother, wife, daughter, friend, or woman, but I no longer have to live in a place of self-hatred over my faults. Instead, I can move forward by God’s grace and God’s love for me and GROW in it. I may not have the neatest house, but that’s ok. I can look at the mess and still take time to love on my family or friends without being anxious about it. And you know the best part? I am falling deeper in love with the Lord. With life. With my children and husband. I am finding joy where I never have before. My heart and mind are experiencing sweet rest and peace as I live in the truth instead of striving for perfection. We were never created to be perfect. We were created to be loved. God is good. God is perfect. And out of love He sent His Son (because He knew I couldn’t be perfect), to save me so that I don’t have to strive for perfection on my own. That’s a lot to be thankful for.
About the Author
My name is Abigail Smith. I am a wife to Landon Smith and a mother to two precious little boys, Elias (2 years old) and Josiah (6 months old). My days and greatest joys consist of running on coffee, surviving on Jesus, and running after my incredibly hyper and active (did I say hyper?) 2 year old while figuring out how to carry my baby at the same time. I love traveling and experiencing new cultures/meeting new people, walks with my family, reading, and running. I have experienced the transformational power of God’s grace and love and am passionate about seeing other women experience the freedom that walking in His truth brings.