Tuesday, July 19, 2011

on giving myself grace

standard of grace

This post has been rolling around in my head for a while now. I formulate thoughts when I can't sleep or when I'm in the car and when it feels coherent, I put pen to paper. Or fingers to keyboard. You get the picture.

Then today, when I was perusing my favorite blogs, I came across that picture up there and decided that today is as good as ever to get these thoughts out...

Here's the thing. The real, raw, honest-to-goodness thing: I can be a bit of a perfectionist. An annoying one. But not in all things, only some.

Don't look closely at the seams of things I sew or you'd argue that I'm not a perfectionist. But ask my husband about my cleaning tendencies and he'll tell you that I am. He might use the word "crazy" but he really means "perfectionist." Really.

What's so ridiculous about this part of my personality is that it comes only from me and the standards I set for myself. I have the most laid-back, gracious, helpful husband in the world. It still amazes me. He is a saint, I tell you, and he makes my life easier and my heart lighter.

So the pressure? Yeah, that comes from me.

The dishes must be done.
The laundry must be folded.
The gifts must be handmade.
The pie crust must be homemade.
The house must be straightened up.
The thank you notes must not be store-bought. I have an Etsy shop, after all...
The dinner must be ready as soon as he gets home.

BLAH BLAH BLAH.

Now let me keep it real a little bit more: some of those things come out of a desire to "be a good wife" and some of them come from my own personal (selfish?) preferences. I like it when my house is picked up and things are just generally in order. I get all twitchy and stuff when it's not. But guess what makes it hard to keep order?

A baby. A crying, hungry, needy baby.

So I decided that I need to get this situation in check before I make myself crazy by not meeting insane goals that I've set for myself.

It started when I was preparing to write thank you notes for our first shower. I would make them myself! I designed them and picked out the paper and then realized how long it would take to assemble them. All of them. Oh, the pressure!

So you know what I did? I bought some. I bought some very cute ones. And it was such a relief.

Then I was going to make Andrew an apple pie for his birthday. And I decided that I would make the crust from scratch, rather than use the store-bought kind. Along with the pork tenderloin and homemade bread and everything else that needed to be prepped for that dinner, I would also make the pie crust. Oh, the pressure!

I didn't. I used a store-bought crust instead and it was delicious. And Andrew didn't even notice.

See the crazy, people? I set these absurd standards for myself and my home, get all flustered when I can't meet them and then feel like I've let someone down. But someone = me and only me.

It was so empowering to say, "I'm giving myself the grace to ____________." I set those standards, so I can bring them down a notch. And on the days when I start feeling yucky about it or inadequate or less than, I remember that those aren't the things that define me. At least they shouldn't be.

I will not let them be.

What was it that Jesus said to Martha?

"You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one."

Yes. Indeed only one. People, I've wept over that.

So for every task - for every thing on my list that makes me feel overwhelmed - I ask how I can give myself the grace to let it go. Something on the list can go, I promise. And one day, something that feels like it should stay on the list will have to go as well. And I'll be okay with that.

Because few things are needed - or indeed only one.

13 friends said...:

  1. ShebreathesdeeplyJuly 19, 2011 at 10:03 PM

    I feel we are kindred spirits, my friend. I totally understand.

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  2. Love it. Love your blog. Words of wisdom. Also, I want to be your friend. :)

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  3. Emily @ On the V SideJuly 20, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    Thank you for this.

    Sometimes you just need to hear someone else say it. :)

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  4. Beautiful post... thank you for sharing your heart. I know I needed to read this, and I'm sure bunches of others will be encouraged too! :)

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  5. Thank you! It was good to get it all out :)

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  6. Thank you! And welcome! We should totally be friends :)

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  7. And I pray that we both learn to give things up more easily :)

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  8. From one recovering perfectionist to another, there's nothing like motherhood to help you realize all the things that need to be let go for all kinds of reasons. My first, best lesson in letting go / accepting things outside my control was having a baby born with special needs. Choosing not to homeschool anymore: another hard thing to release, even though it was by choice. As life throws you curve balls, the baby steps you have taken in saying no to homemade pie crusts and thank you notes will have built up your resolve and ability to say no to and/or accept with grace.

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  9. Love this. Thanks, Mir. One day...you and I are going to be reunited again so we can have weekly coffee dates and talk about this sort of thing :)

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  10. Thank you! I'm claiming that statement in the pic as my new motto :)

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  11. Oh wow! Gypsy Mama has hit another one out of the park: http://thegypsymama.com/2011/07/the-only-way-to-make-it-through-most-days/

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