Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Lie of Perfection

Earlier this summer I wrote about spending “some” time in the scriptures every day. Today I was thinking about that again.

I know you all have been missing me on the blog (don’t tell me if you haven’t – I like to pretend I am important), and if you read my most recent post on Real Intent you might understand why I have been out of commission for a while. It’s hard to write about spiritual things when you feel utterly non-spiritual.

In short, my soul has not been doing a lot of delighting lately.

Part of that is pregnancy hormones (antepartum depression, anyone?), and part of it is a lack of patience and accepting God’s will. Cheryl wrote recently about how she always thought curve balls would come in a certain way, and the curve balls actually came in different forms than she had anticipated. I think part of my failure to endure is because the trials and adversity that I am experiencing are exactly the last thing I thought I would ever have to endure. I thought that because of choices I had made that I would be protected somehow from these trials.

Ha.

God can’t/won’t/doesn’t (not sure which one) usually protect us from any trials. He gives them to us maybe a little too willingly for our tastes, but He knows that we can handle it. And He provides a way for us to overcome or bear them. Every time.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

You’d think I had failed seminary with all the scripture mastery verses I seem to be forgetting these days.

You’re probably wondering at this point what on earth the title of this post has to do with the actual post. Well, nothing, yet. I got distracted.

This post has to do with me learning (again … funny how Heavenly Father has to teach us the same lessons over and over and over again … if only I would learn it the first time!) that I do not have to do everything all the time every day.

What does that mean?

It means that I do not have to study the scriptures for four hours a day. One verse, even reading my favorite verse is sufficient, and if I have time one day to study for an hour or so, then great. But forgoing scripture study because I can’t study the way I want to or think I should is a dumb reason not to study the scriptures.

“Spend some time in the scriptures each day.” – Sister Beck

It means that I do not have to clean all three bathrooms in my house all the way in one day. There is no way I can feed my children, dress my children, eat healthy food myself, and keep the house reasonably clean, plus have a little time to read or do something relaxing/recreational and clean all the bathrooms all the way in one day. It’s just not possible. Even if I think to myself “I have no plans today, I can do the bathrooms today.” Ha. Not likely, and I am probably just setting myself up for failure. However, not being able to clean every corner of the bathrooms every day does not mean I should never clean the bathrooms at all.

The other day I wiped down the counters and called it good. And guess what? I felt like I had done something! I didn’t need to be perfect. Today I cleaned all of one bathroom, (the counter was already wiped – ha!) and mopped the kitchen floor. There are still dishes to be done, but the floor is clean.

I don’t have to do it all, all at once.

“Oh, please. Just let the Savior cover this day.
Let Him cover my inability to do and be everything I need to be and can’t be today.
Please let the atonement cover it.”
Becca Riding, Cover Me, I’m Going In

The lie of perfection is that it is required of us to be 100% perfect 100% of the time, or we are complete and utter failures.

Hello – we are, by virtue of our mortal state, imperfect, and thereby “failures” (through this lens of this lie of perfection).

The hope comes in the atonement, and in doing the best we can.

Yes, I am applying the atonement to cleaning bathrooms.

Because of the atonement, I can wash the toilet in one of my bathrooms and feel like I have done enough. Some days it might be an entire bathroom, and some days it might be all three bathrooms but not the kitchen floor. Some days it might be one load of laundry and we eat frozen corn dogs for dinner.

The atonement covers all that. (if you haven’t read Becca Riding’s post about that over at Diapers and Divinity, you should. It is excellent).

One of the commenters on that post said, “As a mother I tend to put things off til the moment when all is well and no one needs me” But someone or something will always need us, and we cannot do it all, all at the same time, perfectly.

Thank heavens for the atonement.

Have you ever fallen into the trap of “perfection”? Or do you rely on the Savior’s atonement to perfect you, rather than your own works? Do you do nothing, for fear of coming up short? Or do you realize that no matter how much you do, you will always come up short, and then do as much as you can and let the atonement cover everything else?

Image Credit: Heath Robbins

12 comments:

  1. Love, love, love! You are beginning to understand much sooner than I did-- do. You will be profoundly blessed for it! <3

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    1. It would be great if the understanding stuck... I can't tell you how many times I have "learned" this lesson ;) *sigh* but I guess that's another of the glorious parts of the atonement. It's okay if it takes us a million tries to get it right. After all, I'm pretty sure the only part we have to get perfect at is trying again. The part where we let Heavenly Father pick us up and dust us off and we try again. Right?

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  2. I love this. I, too, apply the atonement to my many lacks throughout the day. As for trials, if we think of them as something we earned through wrong choices only, we'll never progress. I was reading today in Alma where the Lord says, "This is a promised land and I will protect you. And if your enemies attack, I will tell you to flee or fight." (paraphrasing, here, people). It didn't say--if you're good the Lamanites will never attack, that you'll never have go to war, that your sons won't die. It says that he will help them get through it and survive it as a people. It is amazing to me how many people think that if bad things are happening to you it's, because you are not righteous.

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    1. "if we think of them as something we earned through wrong choices only, we'll never progress"

      You have no idea how perfect that was for me right now. Really. I don't even know you, and yet you said the exact right thing at the exact right time. Thank you!

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  3. I loved the honesty of this post. I tell my husband that done is better than perfect. "Do you want it done? Or do you want it perfect?" I usually only have time for done. Every once in a while a day comes around that I can work on getting something perfect and I feel so happy with myself. But that is not the normal day. I live with a perfectionist husband and so I know the traits of a perfectionist pretty well. There is also a great talk out there, that I can't remember the title to [I will find it] about being happy, and it is about perfectionism. It was a BYU Devotional. The idea is that with perfectionism it is very much the all or nothing type of thinking. Perfectionist who feel overwhelmed can become paralyzed and are afraid of doing anything for fear it won't be perfect. It is an interesting read. I will try to find the link. The Atonement is there!

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    1. The devotional sounds great! I have heard this lesson explained so many times before, but I have the memory of a goldfish when it comes to learning gospel lessons...

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  4. I really love this post! I've been praying for you, your last post seemed sad and like you were feeling overwhelmed. I've been there and done that many times and your absolutely right in that the atonement is there for us, always. That is encouraging to me, even just to think about when I am feeling especially beaten down by life. Your an amazing woman and you are doing amazing things, you are a Mother! You are raising a family and that in itself is divine and amazing. Your right we don't have to be perfect, we can just do our best and as long as we are trying and working it really is good enough. I hope that you feel better and the blues are lifted, you have a big prize at the end that is what is cool about pregnancy. Through all the pain and discomfort you really do get a wonderful beautiful prize in the end that will love you unconditionally forever! I will keep praying for you, I hope that you feel better!

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  5. It is letting go of our will and accepting God's will for us, isn't it? I often think of Jesus sitting at the well with a woman. He was present, no bathrooms or bills calling to him, able to see her. It's an act of courage to set aside all the things that we think are perfection to embrace the path of perfection he lays before us. It's a road less traveled. Good on ya for seeing it while you stand at the crossroads.

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    1. "It's an act of courage to set aside all the things that we think are perfection to embrace the path of perfection he lays before us."

      I've been thinking about this all day - accepting God's will. It's a lot more painful to do than I ever thought it was going to be.

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  6. Becca.....so sorry you have been struggling. I had even read your post on with Real Intent and had not realized it was you. I so appreciated your post and your honesty. It is so painful when we feel like we are doing everything we are suppose to be doing and yet we do not have the blessings we desire or think are attached to our behaviors. So frustrating!! As for your perfectionist issues, I have them too and if it makes you feel better, it has been so long since I cleaned one particular bathroom, this week I have gone at it in shifts! Monday, the counter and the sink, Tuesday the toilet and the floor. Wednesday was suppose to be the shower, but still haven't tackled that baby. Just so you know...
    And, a comment about learning the same lesson. I thought I had a blog about this but I can't find it, so I guess I get to write another one, ay? It seems to me that I have been taught the same lesson over and over again, each time with a little twist. The first time I did horribly with the trial/lesson. The second time it hit, I applied what I had learned the first time, but the trial was a little bigger with a different slant, so I still had stuff to learn. The third time: the trial was more intense, ramped up, my ability to withstand was greater, but because of the difficulty I still struggled and cried and grew immensely. As I have pondered about this scenario, I have recognized that the particular trial/lesson is one of my weaknesses. It would seem this is how the Lord is making it a strength for me, by revisiting the lesson over and over each time a little more difficult and direct. I get better at it each time, but I am sure the lesson is not over. Personally, I think it will be with me through mortality. And Bonnie is right, it is about surrendering our will, all of it. The Lord requireth the heart.....not half of it, or a part of it, all of it. I can say that right now, because I am not currently in the midst of my trial/lesson. But when I am, would you remind me of these words, because I am sure I will forget. Hopefully I will remember to turn to the Savior also, because my natural woman tends to turn away. Hugs, dear sister!!! We support you and only wish we were close enough to come over and do the dishes or make you dinner!

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    1. Carin! Thank you for your words. I really appreciated your description of how each time you learn the lesson the trial is harder. That is a great thought, and something I look forward to chewing on as I work through this moment.

      I will remind you of your words if you'll remind me of mine! Ha :)

      "my natural woman tends to turn away" - yep... mine, too *sigh*

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What makes your soul delight? This is my invitation to you to share your thoughts right here on my blog. I read every one of them, and I appreciate them!

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