Letting go of perfectionism

Perfectionism is losing it’s grip on my life. It’s not an overnight thing; this is a very slow process, and an unexpected outcome of Sabbath keeping for me. It has to do with taking one day each week to leave everything just the way it is, and living with the tension of desperately wanting it to be different.

Here is an example. Several weeks ago, I decided to open my home on the Sabbath to host our family (about a dozen of us) for a birthday lunch for my son. I worked all day on Saturday to ensure that the preparations would be complete, so I wouldn’t have to do any real work on Sunday. I feverishly raced about the house while a pork butt braised on the stove, cleaning and decorating. A little after midnight, I placed homemade barbecue in the fridge and surveyed the scene. We were looking good!

Imagine my surprise the following morning when I rose early to see (cue horror track here) that my windows were showing their true colors in the rising sunlight…and they weren’t looking good at all. Immediately, I felt a strong desire to remedy this situation, although I truly didn’t have the time in the schedule to make it happen. A little voice in my head informed me, “This is the Sabbath. Of all the things you are in bondage to, cleaning your home is at the top of the list. You should not be cleaning windows today!”

The voice won, and I reminded myself that my family was coming to celebrate Ashton, not to tour the house. We’d enjoy a good meal together, and no one would be checking out my windows (or at least I hoped not!) Still, even in the midst of steely resolve, I felt the sting of imperfection.

The truth is, there is never a time when I feel like my home is totally “clean” and everything is done just the way I’d like it to be done. The problem, a trusted friend once told me, is with my energy. I have a hard time seeing what needs to be done and relaxing in spite of it.

My issue is the house. Maybe yours is a work project, or something you’d like to get done for your child, or even a “fun” pastime that is hard to leave unfinished.

Regardless of what calls to you, the Sabbath is a time to choose to turn a deaf ear to perfection. The Sabbath is a time to learn to live with the tension of something that feels incomplete to you. So, I’m learning to let go of perfectionism…or maybe perfectionism is loosening its grip on me. Finding freedom is always worth the effort.

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