My One Word: Imperfection (part 2)

I have written here before about being an all-or-none perfectionist.

(And actually, in re-reading that post I realized that all the issues I’m now dealing with I have already dealt with before — and seemingly already come to some pretty good conclusions.  Funny how we can think we’ve conquered something but it just keeps coming back…)

better plan

Anyway, all-or-none perfectionism: if I can’t get it all right, then I have a hard time getting motivated to do any part of it.  I also suffer from analysis paralysis (yes, it’s a real thing!) — being paralyzed by too many options and the need to figure out The Best One.

I realize I sound whiny and kind of ridiculous: “It’s just so hard to figure out the right way to meal plan!  I give up!”  I realize these are first-world problems.  (I also suffer from a need to over-explain.)

Why do I have this need to always make the best choice, do the most right thing?  Why am I so afraid of getting it wrong?  It will probably come as no shock to you that I am prone to self-reflection (which can be both super helpful and kind of awful), so I have asked myself this question.

And I have come to at least one conclusion:  it’s all about control.

Aside from just wanting to be seen as a competent, confident grown-up, someone who isn’t floundering around in her own helplessness, someone who’s dependable and put-together (and maybe just a little bit awesome) — aside from wanting to project that kind of image, I’ve realized that the reason I need to always do the best thing is that I want to be in control of my life.

(This book has been instrumental in helping me figure that out.)


I want my life to be good and happy and relatively pain-free.  So it’s important that I make the right decisions and do all the right things in the proper order, because then we will all be happy and healthy and everything should turn out ok . . . right?

But here’s the thing: life doesn’t actually work like that. (Shoot!)

I’m not in control.  I don’t run the universe (and really that’s a very good thing).  And in the grand scheme of things, it’s not actually imperative that my garden be weeded or my bed be made or that I buy the organic broccoli.  My world won’t actually collapse if my daughter goes to church without brushing her hair or if we eat a frozen pizza or if the laundry sits unfolded for one more day week.


(I’m not saying these things don’t matter.  I think it’s important to have a good work ethic, to finish what you start, to do a job well.  I believe that good, whole foods are important for the health of our bodies and our earth.  But.  I am only one small, broken person living in a broken world.  I won’t always get it right.  This is the lesson I’m trying to teach myself.)

But the good news is this:

We are not called to infinite achievement, we are called to love…  God wants us to rely on his Spirit, not on our own strength and achievements…  God is the only one who can handle everything.  – Shauna Niequist, Savor

And also this:

I love how this hymn [How Great Thou Art] helps me lift my eyes from my inadequacy to his sufficiency – from my not-enough to his always-enough.  It helps me to remember the wonderful works He has done (Psalm 145:5) and to meditate on those, rather than circling around and around all the things I’ve left undone. – Ellie Holcomb

Yes.  That.  I am going to fail, always.  But God is always enough.  His grace is sufficient to cover my shortcomings.

I just have to trust him.  Easier said than done, sure.  But these thoughts have been helping me to let go of the whole to-do list, to move on to the next right thing.  I am learning that most things in life are not all-or-none kind of things.  Sometimes it’s ok to do things halfway.  I’m trying to separate the urgent from the important.  I’m trying to embrace the fact that my life is not perfect, but it is the life I have been given, and I don’t want to waste it in futile attempts at winning all the blue ribbons and gold stars.  As Shauna says, I am not called to win… I am called to love.


There are several places that I’m finding inspiration for imperfectionism, including:

The blogs of Kara Anderson and  Melissa Camara Wilkins (These ladies are both inspiring and hilarious.)

Sarah Mackenzie’s Teaching from Rest

This post at Simple Homeschool

Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection

The music of Ellie Holcomb

This book by Sally Clarkson

Emily P Freeman

The Lazy Genius Collective (The tagline?  “Be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t.”  So great!)

This post at Sew Liberated


2 thoughts on “My One Word: Imperfection (part 2)

  1. Sara- thank you thank you thank you!! Your noted shortcomings are a page from my “book”! It is quite amazing to me how your words explain us both to a T.

    • You’re welcome, Amy! Thanks for leaving a comment. I’m always unsure if anyone will feel any affinity with what I am saying, and it is so gratifying to hear you say that!

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