My garage is filled with empty boxes. And when I say filled, I mean, we can barely walk through a tiny path that I have carved from the staircase to our cars. I am so embarrassed by the state of my garage that I no long let anyone enter it.
Where did all these boxes come from? Christmases, birthdays, amazon deliveries (more than you can imagine since Prime Pantry became available.) There are so many that I am becoming suffocated.
Now, I know what you are thinking. “Why don’t I just put them out by the curb so the trash truck can pick them up?” A very fair question. But there is something in my head (when I consider this action) that says, ” This isn’t important today. I have more important things to worry about.” So I go on my merry way and attend to my more pressing matters. And the mountain of cardboard grows.
I know there are some of you out there that are probably horrified by my attitude. That is ok. We all have our own way of doing things.
But I do want to share with you my thoughts on a disease called perfectionism. Because I believe it is very much a tool of the enemy that seeks to steal our joy.
I grew up in the home of a severe perfectionist. Everything had to be just right, and there was only one way of doing things correctly – HERS. I’m not saying that I wasn’t loved, because my parents loved me greatly. But I don’t remember a lot of joy in my home. You know the kind where you build a fort in the living room and have sword fights and campouts. There was nothing like that in my childhood because that would have made a mess. There was no finger painting or helping to cook pancakes on Saturday morning – because nothing could be allowed to disturb the perfection that was strictly maintained. And there were certainly no playdates or afternoon adventures to the park. Because laundry was always being done (with hours worth of ironing each week.) God forbid any of us have a wrinkle in our shirt.
I think my boxes are suffocating, but try living like that for a few months. I believe much is lost when we live this way.
My friends, perfectionism is a disease. For some reason, some of us are so focused on the tiny details of life that we miss the beauty of it. It sucks the joy out of every experience like a vacuum. And it is particularly ferocious because it is an elusive goal. No matter how hard we try, we can never reach it. So we chase it with no end in sight, making ourselves miserable in the process.
Don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at what Jesus has to say about it:
“Jesus continued from there toward Jerusalem and came to another village. Martha, a resident of that village, welcomed Jesus into her home. Her sister, Mary, went and sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him teach. Meanwhile Martha was anxious about all the hospitality arrangements.
Martha (interrupting Jesus): Lord, why don’t You care that my sister is leaving me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to get over here and help me.
Jesus: Oh Martha, Martha, you are so anxious and concerned about a million details, but really, only one thing matters. Mary has chosen that one thing, and I won’t take it away from her.”
Friends, there are big things in this life – relationships, family connections, conversations with friends. These are the things that matter. Please don’t let your need to be viewed as perfect take these blessings from you. In the years to come, I hope my children can look back and remember home with warm memories and joy. It is also my hope that friends can look back and remember that they always felt welcomed here, and not so much that my house was always sparkling.
We reap what we sow. It is my goal in life to sow warmth and generosity into the lives of those around me. And to protect folks from the bondage and desperation that perfectionism creates. I pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to lead me in that direction each day. And maybe one day, He will provide me with a free day to clear out my garage. But until then, I will focus on the people in front of me.