A Perfectly Imperfect Christmas

Upon logging in and dusting off the blog this morning, I discovered that somewhere between Days 55 and 100 of The 100-Day Project, I quit. One of the big lessons of 2022 for me was (and continues to be) unraveling perfectionism.

I remember having conversations around job interviews as a newly graduated young professional; I assumed perfectionism was an asset and I would use it to answer the question employers inevitably ask: “What’s your biggest weakness?” I wasn’t about to share my real answer (ahem – a large bag of Goldfish crackers), so perfectionism became my go-to… because it wasn’t a real weakness, right? The only downside was that things might take me a little longer, because if my name was attached, it had to be perfect.

It wasn’t until I started paying attention to some destructive patterns in my life that I was referred to a workbook called I’m Not Good Enough: How the Stories you Tell Yourself Are Ruining your Life! by Linda Paulk Buchanan, Ph.D. In it, she addresses perfectionism as an expression of ambivalence.

Perfectionism is based on a need to be loved while simultaneously fearing that you are not lovable thus, if you can’t be lovable, at least you can be perfect.

—Linda Paulk Buchanan, Ph.D.

She says perfectionism is different from working hard, and that difference lies in motivation.

Perfectionism is motivated by fear while hard work is motivated by fascination in the project.

—Linda Paulk Buchanan, Ph.D.

Boom.

There are four steps in this section with exercises to help work through this issue. The fourth? Practice acceptance of your imperfections. This is really just a long, roundabout way of saying, I know I didn’t finish The 100-Day Project this time around. And that’s 100% okay.

Of course, the minute I began to accept that it was okay, a slew of situations seemed to arise with opportunity to practice this.

This year, our Christmas tree has its entire midsection burnt out. Even the pre-lit garland we strung in its place has bit the dust. And, really? I’m done.

Instead of spending one more second on trying to find and replace burnt bulbs or stretching and bending branches one way or another to try and hide the imperfections, I’m washing my hands.

It’ll just have to be the Christmas with a burnt out tree. (There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, right?)

Above and beyond my willingness to accept imperfections in life, I’m learning to rest in them.

My small group at Cross Point is currently reading through Advent Reflections by The Bible Project. I only started diving into Advent as an adult. I don’t think I truly recognized the invitation as a child.

Father Mike Schmitz was talking about his disdain for surprise parties on a recent podcast. He says, “the anticipation of joy sometimes amplifies the actual experience of joy itself. The anticipation, getting ready for the celebration is part of the celebration.”

He goes on to explain that Advent gives us the chance to not celebrate Christmas before
Christmas is here, but to enter into the preparation for the celebration of Christmas before Christmas is here.

Advent is an invitation to prepare for the party of Christmas. I am here for that!

But before I get into the party and the decorations (even the burnt out kind), here’s where I’m discovering the rest; here’s the freedom. God delights over me with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). Nothing I can do or say, not even the circumstances of our world can change the good gifts he has in store for me (1 Peter 1:4). Through faith, I am shielded, cared for, heard and seen (1 Peter 1:5).

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

—2 Corinthians 3:17

We’ll hear a lot from the Christian faith this time of year about the gift of a baby lying in a manger – yes, AND. The personal nature of an omniscient being accepting me as a work-in-progress and caring about the microscopic things that keep me up at night – that’s a gift in and of itself!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Gail Jones says:

    You continue to amaze me with you words! 💕

    Like

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