Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What has to be perfect?

Last night I spoke to a group of homeschooling moms on one of the topics from my upcoming book It's No Secret.  This new session is called "Adjust Your Scale" and it deals with women's tendencies toward perfectionism. And our need to grant and accept grace. (You can relate, right?)

This was the first time I've given this message so my excitement was tinged with uncertainty. Will they laugh at the parts I think are funny? Will they take notes on the parts I think are vital?  Will they remember the bottom line 2 days from now?

It seemed to go well. Being teacher-types, they were excellent listeners. And very engaged in the group discussion time as well.  Plus, most the women were still there 30 minutes after the official ending time of 9:00 PM so they were clearly enjoying the chance to connect and get real with like-minded moms.  That was so great to see.

After giving a new message, I go back and tweak it based on how it went over and any feedback I receive from the audience afterward.  So that's on my to-do list this week.  I know you weren't there to hear it, but I'd love for you to share with me what areas of life you struggle the most with perfectionism. Maybe I can address some of those the next time I give this message, or incorporate more examples in my talk.

P So all you perfectionistic types – please, do spill the beans on what you obsess about. What has to be perfect?

Are you an overall perfectionist, or do you have specific things you're obsessive about? Like, I wonder if you have a certain thing that if you can just keep that part perfect, you feel a sense of control despite the rest of the chaos. For me, it's a clean kitchen floor.  I have to have a clean kitchen floor.  I usually sweep it twice a day and mop it twice a week.  The rest of the house can be falling apart but as long as the kitchen floor is clean, I can feel sane. Well, that and my toenails. I have to keep my toenails painted too, with no chipping ...

PS. You do know that being perfectionistic doesn't mean you do things perfectly, right?  Only that you realllllly want to do things perfectly. And you get quite irritable when it's not perfect.  And sometimes you don't do them at all if you think it won't be perfect. Sound at all familiar?

Super thankful for God’s mercy and grace.


  1. I can so relate to this post. And the PS....yeah, that is why I shut my bedroom door today instead of cleaning it! (sigh.) I may need counseling. LOL

    My obsession is the wood floor in my living room. Streaks and footprints....oh my. And my kitchen counter!....

    Can't wait to read your upcoming book!


  2. I TOTALLY shut my bedroom door, too! My obsession is the living room - because it's the first thing you see when you open up the door. I have actually stood at the front door and looked at my house to see what can be seen to make sure it's clean! You can see my kitchen sink from the front door, so if I'm expecting someone to come to the door but not come in, I'll move the dirty dishes to the table (which is out of the line of vision from the front door!)! How bad is that? I should probably spend more time cleaning than hiding the dirty:) Whew! That felt good to get off my chest!

  3. So glad your event went great Rachel! I knew it would! I would love to hear your message one day. Looking forward to seeing you soon!

  4. Oh my, Rachel, where do I begin? Just last week I obsessed over finding a book that has been misplaced. I don't like things out of place. I will almost go crazy sometimes trying to find missing things. If you were to ask my boys what I say the most it would be "Put things back where it belongs" - if you put it back it doesn't get lost, right? Then I don't have to obsess over finding it. Sounds like the "perfect" plan to me!

    A room in my house I obsess over is my kitchen. I don't like clutter sitting on the counter tops, dishes in the sink, or crumbs on the counters. If my kitchen is in order, then somehow I can handle the rest.

    By the way, I never did find the book I was searching for last week. I have been able to let go of searching for it, but I have to admit I still think about where it could be. I'm making progress, right?

    As a homeschooling mom, I too will look forward to reading about perfectionism in your book. I'm sure those moms you spoke to were greatly encouraged by your insight. Homeschooling moms struggle with doing this "perfectly" because we feel there are so many eyes looking our way. I am learning to lean on the one who called me to do this and trust him to equip me with all that I need to accomplish what is before me.

    I believe you've hit on a hot topic. This woman has issues with perfectionism and I know I'm not the only one. Thanks for the outlet today : )


  5. Rachel,

    This sounds familiar :)

    I seem to be very idealistic - I like for things to be as they should be - picturesque - tidy - perfect.

    Some examples? 1)When I workout - even if I run farther than I ever have - faster than I ever have...to me its still not enough. Just knowing that other people are running even farther and even faster makes me dissatisfied with my own efforts. 2) When I cook something - I want it to be spectacular - and I want it to look just like the picture. Or better. 3) Cleaning - I'm obsessive about the kitchen and the family room. I probably pick up toys about 20 times a day in those two rooms alone :)

    Cool post - has me thinking today

    Kate :)

  6. AnonymousMay 12, 2010

    I'm not really the perfectionist type. In my former life I was, but as a newlywed...newly living with a man, I've let that go. My to-do list would be never ending if I was like I was before. And I'd be mad at my husband when he didn't know that i was much of a neat freak!

    One thing that I won't attempt to do at all if I can't get it right, is cleaning my desk. Its the one thing that is mine and I can control. And I like a neat workspace. If its not neat, I feel like my day is thrown off. If I can't take time to straighten it up, I cover it up. But I usually straighten it every night so the cover up is rare. Its easier to maintain than to catch up!

  7. AnonymousMay 12, 2010

    I have a 5'x7' Brazilian granite island in the center of my kitchen and it must be spotless at all times. If it isn't you can't enjoy the beauty of it ..right? There is a crystal chandelier centered directly above with a beautiful drop that is aligned with the tall crystal apothecary jar below it. I am forever moving the jar to make sure it is perfectly under the drop! And of course no dirty dishes may sit on the island. Only beautiful things may sit on the island. Hearing myself say this is a little embarrassing, but that is my obsession, keeping it beautiful.

    Thanks for allowing me this moment of honesty to see how really silly this all sounds.

    Love your blog, and your insights.

  8. oh I can so relate....my thing is the bathroom and the dishes in the sink...I can't stand leaving dishes in the sink before bed...we don't have a dishwasher to hide them in...and I have never quite understood why when I go to bed at 10:300 the sink is empty and when I get up it is full...how does that happen...then I go to work and think I have to do those dishes ehwn I get home...and the toenail thing I so agree with. I look forward to reading your new book.


  9. Well, mine is totally different. I do like my home looking good without clutter.

    When I worked everything I did especially typing had to look exactly perfect and I'm that way with the posts on my blog. Sometimes it drives me crazy but I won't let it go until it's just right -- according to me.

  10. AnonymousMay 13, 2010

    First let me say that, I am much better than I used to be...I still have issues with a clean house...have to be able to keep the bedroom door open all the time so the bed is made with the pillows just so every morning (my wonderful husband knows how to do this for me if necessary)...Kitchen counters--yes...The biggest thing is that I want to do things perfectly organized, especially if I am doing it for someone or for church (like the Tea that is Saturday) I know that people are counting on me and I would melt if I disappointed anyone..I have gotten so much better and I know that God is in control --not me...Praise Him for His patience and grace...


  11. AnonymousMay 14, 2010

    I get to be a perfectionist with the way the bed is made. Wow, how inconsequential is that? I only noticed that I had that issue when my daughter (4yrs) had a friend over and my daughter started bursting into tears. I asked "Sweetie, what's wrong?" My daughter said "McKayla sat on my bed and got wrinkles on it." Where would she ever get the idea that wrinkles are the end of the world?

  12. Do I have to narrow it down to only one? Clearly there are a few for me, and the answers would vary depending on which of my children you asked, or what my husband would chime in with, BUT, I think I would have to say that the kitchen has to be clean when I go to bed. Has to be....

    I'm talking dishes in the dishwasher, it should be running, the counters and table have all been wiped down, the trash has been put away, and heaven forbid if anyone leaves their pile of "to do's" on MY kitchen counter!

    It's either this way, or everyone will be awakened early as I bang things around cleaning up after them, with no concern for the hour of the morning when I encounter their mess...

    I'm not a very polite mom sometimes...

  13. I struggle in this area also, I must have a picked up house but also a nice yard, which is a lot of work and a lot of time. There are so many times that at the end of the day I realize I missed a chance to do something fun with my children or my mom, or missed the chance to just sit and visit. What good is a tidy house and pretty lawn and flowers if you don't take the time to enjoy them with your loved ones? You want to take the day back for a do-over. All you can think of is well I messed that up...again.


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