My Lenten promise for this year is to stop trying to be or make situations perfect. Instead, I vowed to try and look at myself and situations the way that Jesus would. So far, so good.
It has been difficult on occasion to give up my perfectionist ways, but ad majorem Dei gloriam, (To the greater glory of God.) Giving up perfectionism has helped me tremendously. Like right now for instance.
I had planned on writing this journal and getting other work done while my son napped. Instead, I am typing these words while simultaneously holding my toddler who is snoozing on me.
Our son has been struggling with sleep since before his second birthday. (He is currently 27 months.)
Really, he has never been a great sleeper and the only thing that has helped was sleep training: (SLIP/CIO (cry it out), remember this is a judgement free zone, you do you.)
He has streaks of glorious, lengthy, independent sleep. Then BAM, back to screaming, wailing and charging around his crib like a solider ready for battle.
About half hour into his nap yesterday, he woke up ANGRY. Screaming bloody murder and calling everyone in the house to come get him. He even screams for the dog who starts to shake and cower in the corner and then the cat who takes off and hides somewhere quieter.
We try to wait a couple (torturous) minutes before going in hopes that he might go back to sleep. Over the monitor we could hear him screaming, “No! No! No! Open! Open!” (meaning no nap, open the door!) I prayed Hail Mary after Hail Mary, yet he still screamed.
Today, he went another half hour and the screaming began. So, I improvised. Yes, I would much rather have had him sleep so that he would be less cranky and so that I could get some work done.
But snuggling him while I write this journal is nice and a moment I will hold onto when he is a crankier teenager that doesn’t necessarily want his momma. (I’m almost crying thinking of this.)
Progress not Perfection
Within my Lenten resolution to give up perfection, I have quickly realized that in order to succeed, I must also give up the perfection of giving up perfection. I will make mistakes along the way and slip up, but this Lenten resolution just requires me to dust myself off and try again.
“Have patience with all things but first with yourself. Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being. You are perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist. And no amount of triumphs or tribulations can ever change that.” ~Saint Frances de Sales
The easiest thing for me to stop being perfect about is exercise. Before, I would really get down on myself if I didn’t exercise, as fitness greatly helps my anxiety. Now I realize that while the endorphins that are exerted during exercise are beneficial, missing out on a few workouts won’t cause my anxiety to rear its ugly head. What will induce anxiety is to stress myself out about not exercising.
So, on days where I can’t get a good workout session in, I have gone for a walk with our son, danced around with him or just didn’t exercise at all, called it a wash and didn’t give it a second thought.
The hardest thing for me to stop being perfect about is my work. I love to work and I love my “job.” I’ve always loved to work and especially now that I am doing something that I am very passionate about. It is very difficult for me not to give 100% and more, specifically, to not finish everything on my to-do list.
During this Lenten season, I have realized that I have unknowingly tied part of my self-worth directly to my work. My mother, husband and I founded a nonprofit (see here) almost eight years ago in memory of my grandfather who passed away from esophageal cancer. Perhaps that is why I have such a hard time not giving perfection at work.
The odds are very poor for those diagnosed with esophageal cancer and the factors concerning this horrific cancer are dire, urgent and stress inducing. The charity has the potential to save lives (something I know we have done) and I frequently feel like I’m working against the clock.
Also, since making this Lenten promise I have surmised that my perfection at work comes from knowing that since I can’t bring my grandfather back, I can at least keep his memory (and since then, the memory of so many others) alive through the charity.
But I bet that my grandfather (and everyone else) would not mind it if I don’t finish everything off of my to-do list every single day. In fact, I’m sure my grandfather is happy to see me stop work in the evening to instead go downstairs with my family and dance with my son. It was my grandfather who would hold me as a little girl, cheek to cheek and dance around the living room.
My grandfather’s (and everyone else’s) legacy and love are not measured by how much work I do in a day or even how much we can accomplish through the charity. It is measured by the love that I put into each bit of work that I perform - whether it is perfect or not. My Lenten promise has reminded me that it is Love that never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:8.
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As always, thank you for reading. God bless you and may the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always!