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Being PresentParenting

Moving from Perfection to Imperfection

By October 1, 2014June 13th, 20226 Comments

Handmade quilts are fascinating.

The detail in certain patterns, like Log Cabin or Flying Geese, is remarkable. Functional beauty using arrays of color and pattern in common simple materials, or maybe even expensive materials, join together in a warm, comforting, useful product.

I love looking at old quilts. Perhaps it’s because I grew up sleeping under a quilt made by my grandmother that contained pieces of fabric from items I recognized. And then, later, another quilt was specifically designed by my aunt for my sweet husband and me. Or perhaps the fascinating combinations of piece size, color choice, stitching, and pattern make each quilt unique and appealing to the artist in my soul.

When you see a quilt hanging on a wall, the mass of color and form is breathtaking. Yet, if you can get close enough to see the detail, you will notice the imperfections, the mistakes, and the pieces that don’t quite line up.

Life is like that, isn’t it? Taken as a whole, seen through the broad strokes, it is extraordinary in its beauty and adventure.

But, when we get caught up in the nitty-gritty of daily life, we notice its imperfections, holes, and pieces that don’t quite line up. And, in an attempt to make those pieces line up, we try to make everything perfect.

I’ve never thought of myself as a perfectionist—at least not in many areas.

However, recently I was told that people who have lots of piles of stuff around them are perfectionists. If there isn’t just the right place to put an item, they will leave it in a pile until they can figure out the right place.

Bingo! Nailed. I’m a piler extraordinaire.

And I drive myself crazy with the piles.

So how do I move from perfection to imperfection?

  1. Give me the grace to be who I am. Lack of acceptance exacerbates the desire for perfection. And, I am not perfect. I will never be perfect. That’s okay. Each of us on this earth is uniquely designed, wonderfully complex, with gifts and abilities to be and do at least one thing well. My job is to find that one thing and dive in. It’s okay to learn along the way.
  2. Accept that good enough is good enough. Thanks, Kary Oberbrunner. Perfectionism can stifle creativity. It can stop us dead in our tracks. The dictionary defines perfect as “conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type; entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings; accurate, exact, or correct in every detail.” However, excellent is defined as “possessing outstanding quality or superior merit; remarkably good; extraordinary; superior.” I work every day for excellence. But striving for perfectionism stifles. “Good enough” isn’t an excuse to not try. It’s the freedom to say something is finished because it’s your best work at the time and then let it go, to accept that there will always be revisions because you are continually learning and growing.
  3. Perfection is an excuse to not face my fear. Yup, you heard me. Let’s think this through. I can’t do…[fill in the blank]…well, so I probably shouldn’t even try. Or, I’m not as good as Susie, so it’s just not my thing. Or, if I try and fail, everyone will laugh at me. I’d rather not even attempt it. Do you hear Fear? So what if you can’t do it perfectly? Just try.

Remember the quilts. They are perfect in their imperfection.

Each is unique. Each serves a purpose. Each is beautiful.

So are you!

What are the pieces and fabrics in your life that need to stitch together?

What are you afraid to tackle head-on because you can’t do it perfectly? Remember, good enough is good enough. Life isn’t perfect; it is extraordinarily imperfect.

I’m choosing to move toward imperfection today. Will you join me?

  • Kirsten D Samuel

    I empower Christian wives to discover they are seen, loved, and heard. These women find the freedom to be who they are beyond their partner’s struggles, and find hope that there is a life worth living.