You know that thing where you come face to face with your own humanity and all you can say is “ewww”?
Did a heckalottathat this week.
Maybe it’s because I’m so busy and sleep deprived.
Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m still figuring out a new business that is coming at me at breakneck speed or that my kitchen is being redone in my lack of spare time.
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because I’ve got that nasty stuff called perfectionism running through my veins that made me react the way I did a few days ago.
In the past week, I’ve discovered something especially ugly about perfectionism.
It’s a hungry beast that can never be fully satisfied.
And it wants to eat NOW.
I had a client this past week that took perfectionism to a whole new level. It affected our entire team and anyone else working for her.
Each day, I felt afraid of her judgment, anticipating that there was no way I was ever going to get it “quite right” in her eyes.
I wasn’t alone in that feeling.
But it wasn’t until I came home to find my kitchen tiled with defective subway tiles that the same hungry monster showed its colors in me.
This is where I overreacted.
I picked up the phone, and without taking the time to think or pray or be rational, I found myself demanding that I be reimbursed for the tile and that I remain on the schedule as planned so that my project could get done.
I wanted my tile perfect and I wanted it now.
Now, I absolutely shouldn’t have received that defective tile. It was wrong.
But so was my attitude and approach. I let my ravished perfectionism run my emotions during that phone call.
Big. Fat. Ewww.
Enter, a fresh dose of reality mixed with humility.
The “splinter” I saw in someone else’s eye was now the ginormous “log” in my own.
And I didn’t like it.
In this process of wrestling with my own character deformity, I’ve learned this:
There is a difference between the desire for excellence and need for perfection.
– Excellence allows for process, for failure and mistakes along the way.
– Perfectionism demands immediate results with no patience for mishaps or human error.
– Excellence understands that the inevitable foibles are part of the journey to a great outcome.
– Perfectionism doesn’t have time for such “nonsense”. It wants what it wants when it wants it.
– Excellence savors.
– Perfectionism devours.
– Excellence learns things in the process and feels content when the job is done.
– Perfectionism doesn’t learn a thing and will never, ever be satisfied.
– Excellence finds joy.
– Perfectionism only finds a new growling in it’s ever-hungry belly.
Starting a new business that deals with the various personalities of clients and remodeling a kitchen at the same time has served to be not only asinine, but a great learning tool. I’m discovering things about people. About myself.
About the fact that God, Himself, though perfect, is gracious enough not to be a perfectionist when it comes to us very human humans.
He desires excellence and goes to great lengths to create it in us. But He knows that it will require time, patience and forgiveness as we fall and fail along the way.
I want to be like that, don’t you?
I don’t want to wish away the process of “getting there” whether it’s in myself, in others or in circumstances and projects.
I don’t want to spend one more minute feeding the hungry beast of perfectionism that will never be satisfied.
I want to seek excellence with the grace and patience that should accompany anything worth working toward.
And that’s probably going to start with an apology to my tile company and a side dish of crow.
Psalm 103:14 – For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.
Hebrews 4:15 – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.
James 1:2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.