Monday, November 25, 2013

Faithful, not Perfect

"Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor;
the enemy of the people.
It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life."
~Anne Lamott

Those of you who know me may be thinking, "Yeah, HAK, about time you figured that out." 
Yeah, yeah I guess it is. 
The greatest expectations I face are the ones I put on myself. I expect too much. I want to do it all. 
I still kind of want to do "it all," or at least a little bit of everything. But I'm learning to let go of the perfect part. 
I still want a huge mess of kids. 
I still want to teach--though I'm less sure of when or where or in what role than I used to be. 
I still want a lot of pets--though I think a cow and chickens might be added to the list. 
I still want to paint and write and knit--oh wait, I'm doing that with Mes Aventures, Crafts & Co. and this blog! :-) 
I still want to travel--though when and how is up in the air, but that's maybe half the fun...

But I know there will be days when I'm impatient with the munchkins...
...when I don't get my grading done or when, maybe, I don't make the grade. 
...when I want to turn the cow into steak.
...when I never want to put myself out there in an attempt to sell products ever again.
...when I don't want to leave the house. 

But I'm not called to be perfect. 
I'm called to be faithful. 

These last few months are maybe the first time I've started to be okay with that.

I've told y'all before that I'm a business owner, (now) blogger, student, and wife. The Hubster and I got married 6 months and 1 day ago. I promised myself that I would do it all...perfectly. I would keep the house clean, cook, work, and study--and my GPA would not just stay the same, it would be better. After all, I'm only taking 14 hours, right? HA!
The house is usually picked up, but I don't mop every week any more. You know, we're all fine with that.
I do still cook, but more often in the crockpot. Again, no shame there. Crock pot soup is yummyyyy.
Work, hey, I started a company. I'm not a Fortune 500, but I loooove my job.
That GPA thing. It didn't get better, but it's still quite self-respecting. The perfectionist within has been screaming all semester that I'm a slacker and should get my act together. But, other than relatively minor bouts of stress where I've listened to that voice, I've taken steps toward more balance than I've had before.
I do what needs to be done. I do it well, but I'm not killing myself. And, do you know what, it's a wonderful thing to have time and energy to go to the gym, cook, create, even read a bit, spend time with friends, and babysit. I love it. I feel life my life is full and rich. I love that, once the hubster gets home, I pack all the homework up, and we spend a couple hours watching Burn Notice, playing games, and reading old favorites like Cheaper by the Dozen and My Side of the Mountain. And, perhaps most surprising of all, I sleep well and (usually) enough each night.

So why won't that little voice shut up?
What is it about our lives that is so out of whack that I feel a twinge of guilt when I choose to work on a painting or my knitting rather than putting those hours into writing the perfect Sociolinguistics essay?
Think about that, I'll get back to it in a second...

Until maybe a month ago, I assumed I would go to grad school as soon as I graduated with my BA. At one point I even looked at attending Oxford (and if spousal visas to England hadn't been so complicated, I might have spent last weekend in Atlanta interviewing for a scholarship, but alas, that opportunity ended before it began because you can bet your bottom dollar that I'm not going to spend months on end away from the hubster). But as the time came to apply, I became increasingly uneasy about the student debt that would be involved, the time, starting the school thing all over again, etc. After weeks of angst, a lot of time in prayer, and conversations with a few close people, John and I came to a place of peace. For right now, barring some variable we don't see at the moment, I'm going to take some time off after I graduate and see what life after school looks like--focus on Mes Aventures, Crafts & Co., maybe work at Barnes and Noble, get involved at church, breathe. Maybe the MAT will come in a year, maybe 25, I don't know, but I think that's okay.

But why was it such a hard decision?
Why have I struggled with guilt over, shall we say, "tweaking" my achievement expectations?
(here's a hint in case you've been up on the conversation at Covenant College this Fall--it has nothing to do with technology).

We live in a world where all of us are increasingly pressured to DO and BE something. And if our results, our DOING and BEING, cannot be measured in some way, we feel a twinge of failure. I probably won't achieve Summa Cum Laude next Spring. Two years from now, I probably won't be changing lives in a middle school classroom by being the best English teacher ever (haha). I wanted those things. Part of me still does. But I am not any less by not being or doing them. I'm still a child of God, and maybe His calling right now is more about living and learning than doing or being.

We are not called or meant to DO or BE in and of ourselves.
We are followers. Disciples.

I quit the rat race, y'all.
That doesn't mean I don't want to live life for all it's worth anymore--it means I DO want to live life for all its worth.
Sometimes that will mean hard work, stress, achievement.
Sometimes it will mean a cup of tea with friends when I "should" be elsewhere.
Remember what I said in my post about the old, comfy sweater? Stuff, even GPAs, don't last.
People do.
Invest in relationship, encouragement, growth.
Invest in love.

To tweak Steve Brown,
"Let's think about that. Amen."

Adventure well; Live fully.

PS I still teared up a bit when my French oral assignment was less than awesome this's a process... 


  1. loved this entry. It was definitely something I needed to read tonight as I'm struggling with trying to be perfect and get everything done but it's not working out. I need to realize that I'm not supposed to be perfect. Thank you for writing this!

  2. You are so welcome! Hang in there! :-)

  3. I'm so proud of you. And I hope that I'll take the lessons you're learning to heart. I need it, too! :D

  4. They're so hard! It's such a process. :-)


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