Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Recovering Perfectionist

I had an epiphany while I was vacuuming my living room rug this morning.  You see, I have some friends coming over and I wanted the house to be clean for them.  I wanted it to be clean so they would feel comfortable.  And, I admit, part of me wants my friends to think well of me.  But as I was vacuuming, a thought flitted across my mind, "I hope they don't think I cleaned just for them."  I mean, I did clean for them, they are worth the effort.   But I also cleaned because it needed to be done.  And because I like having a clean space.  And because it's my job to redeem my house.

I guess the heart behind my thought was really, "I hope they don't think I cleaned just because I want them to think well of me."  And the thoughts that quickly followed were, "I should clean, but not too much.  Make it look natural.  Like my house is always clean.  My friends should feel like they are part of the sacred inner circle that gets to see my real life."  Except...there I was creating a "real life" level of cleanliness/dirtiness for them.   That totally cancels out the real part of it.

Can you hear Satan's lies to me in there?  Can you see how messed up that thinking is?  I was striving to be PERFECT in MEDIOCRITY.  I wanted to to look like I had tried, but not look like I had tried too hard.  That is so incredibly foolish.  And so much more effort than needed.  I had to turn off the vacuum cleaner and laugh.  I also had to praise God for allowing me to instantly see how goofed up my thoughts were becoming.

My thoughts are still pretty rambling on this but let me try to get them out:

It is a blessing to have close friends who will love me, and even like me, when my house is dirty.  If they should see me and my house in that state I should accept their grace.

My friends are worthy of me providing a clean and comfortable space for them.  I want to do that out of love for them, not from a place of wanting to be seen as "good" or "perfect."

Sometimes I will be able to have a clean house and that will be great.  My friends will appreciate the effort.  Sometimes they will come over and the floors will be sticky and dirty dishes will be piled on the counter.  My friends will appreciate that I am human just like them.

I barely notice these types of things when I go to other people's houses.  Mostly I'm just thinking that I'm glad to be there.  I bet my friends think the same thing when they come to my house.

I thought that I was over being a perfectionist.  Clearly, I am not.  I cannot believe Satan tried to fool me into trying to be perfect at being good enough.  There are most likely other areas where I am still striving to be seen as good.

Here's the truth.  I am already good enough.  Jesus made me good enough when he died in my place for all of my sins.  I will still fail.  I make mistakes daily.  Hourly.  This does not change my status of good enough.  And when it comes to my house (and all things, really) I should simply do my best.  Sometimes that will mean a sparkling clean house.  And sometimes it will mean piles of laundry to step around.  It will always mean that grace abounds and that I don't have to waste energy on creating a fake "real life."  What a relief!

What about you?  Please tell me I'm not the only one who has thoughts like this!


  1. 1) Yay! I love epiphanies!

    2) LOL!!!

    3) Totally. I went through the same thought process yesterday. I wanted to clean because I don't like it messy and because I was having company and because I wanted it to be clean and because I wanted my guests to feel comfortable and because I wanted the mama of my guests to feel I had provided a clean space for her children to play in and because I wanted to be a little impressive and because I wanted to make my home a place of worship.

  2. I had to laugh out loud reading this---- it is sooooo me! I have also struggled with "the house has to be perfect for guests" syndrome. For me it's part feeling insecure and part pride, that ugly word. And like you when I go to a friend's home I don't look for dirt or mess so why do I think they are looking for that in my house?! But I do. If my daughter were to read this she would testify I even get stressed out about it! So, after all this time I have finally made it to the place of doing my best and placing my effort into grace. I have also stepped out in faith and have offered our home for a weekly Bible study, which means the house has to be clean EVERY WEEK! I am praying for that grace! And Favorite Other Daughter you are so far above "good enough"


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