Killing Perfectionism


He's 9. In the fourth grade. And could not give a rip if his hair is messy, that his shoes are untied, that his book bag is wonky. He's having a good time, he's coming off the bus ready to see me, and tell me about the latest chapter in the sixth Harry Potter book. Always a book and a story, that one.

Me? I first see a hot mess of curls, a disheveled boy, an unzipped backpack, ridiculous faces and noises and just weird, fourth-grade-boy-behavior. I see what's not perfect.

And what do I miss when I choose to see that?

I miss his smile, his silliness, his hug, his thoughts, his jokes he has been rehearsing to test on me first thing after school. 

Perfectionism kills.

It kills freedom and creativity and lightness and character and art and beauty and little boys carefree hearts. 

Instead, let's kill perfectionism. 

I am taking out the old threads that have woven through my life. Unraveling them. Telling them where they can go. And putting in new, fresh, free threads.

The old threads of fear. Being afraid that I will look like the mom at the bus stop that can't keep her kids' shoes tied or coat on. Even though he is NINE and that's his job now. He can trip or freeze and learn as he goes. He has been taught, but he has free will. Threads of fear that I will look a certain way or not. Image control is exhausting. I'm kinda tired.

And I'm weaving in some new threads of grace, that come with asking: What do I have to prove? Maybe I think I have to prove that I am not a "space cadet" (an affectionate term my grandma used for me...but I kinda think I need to prove I am NOT one). Or that I am not messy, whimsical, over-the-top.

What happens when I am messy and broken or my kids are messy and broken and so my image is messy and broken?

Grace shows up. Thank God. And says: "You aren't a reflection of his untied shoelaces. You are made for loving people and listening to others and sharing stories and making up jokes and laughing. And so is he. NO ONE IS PERFECT, so be done with that idea. No one is always winning. No one is always the best at ALL the things. Rest. Unravel. Let it all be. No one is dying here. Yes, there is mess, much bigger than shoelaces in your life. But there is not death. Or, a death of a different sort. Of your image and your fears and your control. Good, necessary deaths."

So, if you find my children shoeless in a warmish November running around the neighborhood, laughing and playing, don't worry. That's just me, killing perfectionism around here.

If you see me playing kick ball with several children under 10 instead of cleaning and reorganizing some kitchen cabinets, that's just another weapon against it all. 

If you see me not commenting on appearances and instead simply smiling at all these amazing little people all around me, then know I am practicing. And slaying. And choosing. Choosing grace and letting go.

The weapon is grace. Let's grab it and get after it. Anyone want to join the rebellion with me? 

Thanks for the raised hand, Brene. Appreciate it. 

To overcome perfectionism we need to be able to acknowledge our vulnerabilities to the universal experiences of shame, judgment, and blame; develop shame resilience; and practice self-compassion.

When we become more loving and compassionate with ourselves and we begin to practice shame resilience, we can embrace our imperfections. It is in the process of embracing our imperfections that we find our truest gifts and strengthen our most meaningful connections.
— Brene Brown
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed
— Jesus, in John 8:36




Amy Seiffert