Week 4: It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

Hi! Welcome to week 4 in a series of 7 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me—an article I wrote for Hello, Darling Magazine. Last week I shared Social Etiquette is Key. If you didn’t get the chance to read it, either scroll down or click here. This week’s post ties in with some of what I shared last week in regards to making mistakes. Last week’s mistakes dealt with social blunders. This week, we are talking about accepting the fact we are going to make mistakes, it is part of being human. I pray these posts are touching you right where you are at and helping you in some way.

Here is what I shared with Hello, Darling Magazine:

I learned to strive for perfection, another safety precaution. The better I did something, the less trouble I got into and the better I felt about myself. Eventually, striving to do well turned into the driving desire to be perfect. My ambition hindered all of my relationships. I allowed myself to feel superior toward anyone who did not adhere to my standard. I am so thankful I can now smile at my mistakes.

Perfection. What a myth. What an empty promise. What an unattainable goal! Perfection is an elusive state of being, one that we will never reach, yet, we try with all our being, all our might, to get there anyway. It doesn’t exist in human form. The harder we try, the harder we climb, the harder and farther we fall. Ouch. And falling hurts. Especially when we expect crazy things from ourselves.

God never asked us to be perfect. In fact, He didn’t even ask us to try for perfection. Why? Because He would never set us up for failure.

Where does our desire to be perfect come from? How does it begin? I believe it begins when we are very young and is reinforced as we grow older as we try to please those in authority over us. We yearn for approval. We want someone to give us a pat on the back and say “good job.” When that doesn’t happen we try harder. And harder. And harder. Then one day we wake up and realize the futility in our attempt. At least some of us do. Some never see the proverbial treat hanging just out of reach and each time they move a little closer, the treat jumps back a little farther.

As a young girl, I had to clean the creases in the linoleum floor with a butter knife and a toothbrush. One little square at a time. A mop wouldn’t do. Not even washing the floor on my hands and knees was good enough. Nope, I had to get every little bit of dirt out of each little crack. It took hours.

Is it any wonder I became obsessive about perfection?

I remember the exact moment I acknowledged I had a problem in this area. The towels. I always wanted the towels folded exactly the same. I wanted guests in our home to open the linen closet and see these beautiful, color coordinated, towels that were just sitting there, waiting for them. It was as if they opened the door to a rainbow that made them happy, that made them smile. Then I had kids. And I wanted to teach my kids responsibility. And I wanted to say their efforts were good. And I didn’t want them to think they had to be…or do…or look…perfect. In other words, I didn’t want to pass my own desperate quest for acceptance onto my children. If you saw my daughter’s room you might think I went a little too far in the opposite direction. I would have to agree with you.

Thankfully I did not allow this character flaw to continue. My children have never had to clean the cracks in the floor. Although I did make my daughter wash the kitchen floor on her hands and knees once as payment for an astronomical texting bill. But, that’s another story for another time.

Join me next week when I share “You Don’t Have to Please Everyone.” Boy, this one is tough! See you next week!