Monday, September 10, 2012

The Perfectionist Trap - Part 1

Do you ever become frustrated because you can't accomplish everything you wish you could?

I have. Too many times to count.

This frustration often shows up when we are expecting guests. As the hour of their arrival looms nearer, the optimistic goal I had envisioned of a spotless home and lovely meal begins to crumble. Suddenly, I'm transformed into a drill sergeant barking orders to my children. “Clean up your toys. Put your shoes away. Get your clothes changed. They'll be here in an hour!”

Even if I somehow manage to make my home presentable before guests arrive, my heart is not. I can put on a smile for my guests, but my children knowI knowI am not a rested, joy-filled person.

I have learned, or maybe am still learning, that sometimes less than perfect is good enough. 

I don't consider myself a true perfectionist; in some areas of life, I'm rather relaxed. But at times, pride shows its ugly face, and I put myself and my family under unnecessary pressure. It may be those times that guests are coming or maybe when I decide to make all my food from scratch. It is not wrong to want my home to look nice for guests or to cook nutritious food, but God says, “The fear of man bringeth a snare”. (Proverbs 29:25) When my goal is to impress others, I've fallen into the trap of perfectionism.

Next, we will look at what is perfectionism.


  1. oh, this is so me! unfortunately, i'm perfectionistic in too many areas. i continually tell myself that it's better to have something done than to wait until i have the time to do it perfectly (which will never happen, of course!); it's one of my daily struggles, but it def. rears its head when i'm preparing for company. ugh! makes entertaining so much less than desirable. anyway, thanks for covering this topic; i'm excited to hear what u have to share & hopefully, w/ God's help, we can conquer this ugly problem together!

  2. Ouch! This sounds familiar. My way of coping with it lately is to simply not have company. Not a good solution. I'm not sure how to dig myself out of the hole.

  3. It is so hard sometimes to relax. I always want everything to be perfect when people come over, too. Like Rebecca I let that keep my from entertaining a lot of times -- which is kind of sad.

  4. I like this topic too! I am not a perfectionist, but I allow the idea that everyone else is more organized or otherwise more accomplished than I am to keep me from being a relaxed, gracious hostess. As Joanna said lets conquer this ugly problem together by God's grace!

  5. This is a problem I have too, and your example of it rearing its head when company is coming describes me exactly - I bark out those same things! I pull it all together in a mad flurry and then try to calm myself down at the last second. But I get so frustrated with myself and promise to not get in such a panic next time (but it happens again). I can relate with the other gals too - when I hear the dog barking announcing unexpected coffee guests or who knows is coming down the driveway, I often wish they hadn't come, and run around quickly like a chicken with my head cut off! Then feel bad about wishing that because we have a lovely visit, and I realize my home should always be welcoming to guests.
    Thanks for sharing here! Shauna

  6. Oooh! I look forward to the rest of the series! We can all identify...

  7. Thanks so much ladies for your comments and helping me feel that I'm not alone in these struggles.

    Believe it or not, I wrote the rough draft for this article almost two years ago. I kept looking at it thinking that maybe no one can relate to the trap of perfectionism!

    May we learn and grow together!

  8. Relate to the trap.. is what caused me to miss out on many moments of hospitality before this move.. I spent to many years being in that trap. Now by the Grace of God.. I am learning to be more relaxed... what we fail to realize is that our perfectionism can be a hindrance in friendships and family.. It may cause others to stumble because they see us "living perfectly" and then they go into the same thought process.. its a vicious cycle that the Devil LOVES to play on us.. especially women.. when we can compete really bad with one another

  9. Oh, wow! I thought something was wrong with me! These comments really describe me, too! I feel so horrible and guilty for acting that way. I can't wait to read more. I have worked on a cleaning schedule so that, now, my home is always more presentable so that I am not so embarrassed when unexpected company shows up. It also helps me not to go into such a frenzy when I do know company is coming.

  10. Oh Gina, thank you so much for this post! I'm preparing for my daughter's baby shower (our first grandchild!) this weekend, and I can certainly relate!

  11. Yep, been there, done that! :) In analyzing why I feel more comfortable in some homes than others, I have concluded that it's the attitude of the hostess. Things can be much less than perfect but when the hostess is so 'down to earth' that it doesn't bother her, it makes me feel comfortable. I don't have to worry that my busy toddler will mess up her 'perfect' house or that she is inwardly fretting about her 'mess'. (And it shows when they (I?) do!)

    This summer during our summer Bible School, I decided last minute to make supper for the superintendents (both families with young children) and invite them here for homemade ice cream for dessert after BS. Bible School is a busy time and some things had been let slide around here for these weeks. I felt a little embarrassed about the weedy flower beds and piles of 'stuff' in the corners but in talking to the young mothers later, I learned that they didn't even notice and wouldn't have cared if they did. All they saw was someone caring enough to lighten their load in the meal department. It was an important lesson for me that serving others is the goal, not a perfect house. This is a great series and something I think many more of us struggle with than we're willing to admit sometimes. :/


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