Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Trying

Hi, my name is Krista and I'm a perfectionist.

"Hi Krista"

 A lot of things in life seem to come fairly easily to me.  School, music, planning.  Or maybe it's just that I stay away from things I know I'm NOT good at - competitive sports, speech and debate, etc.

That said, I never realized I was a perfectionist until roughly this past year.  When you get kids all the perfect planning and organizing and having things exactly the way you want it goes right out the window.  One kid, I worked with it.  Two kids, I'm drowning.

I don't know how to let go.  My house is never as clean as I'd like it.  My laundry is NEVER done (add cloth diapers to the mix).  I haven't finished a single one of the Bible studies we've done in the last two years.  I have a never ending list of things that I DIDN'T get done in a day.

But the biggest thing is my relationship with God.  I can't tell you the last time that I just sat down and read my Bible.  The last time I felt like I had a conversation with God that wasn't more of a one-liner thrown out in desperation. 

Recently I came across a letter that I wrote ten years ago.  An intentional time capsule.  And yes, I was in the habit of writing letters to God back then.  It was my form of journaling. 

I opened it up having no real memory of what I wrote other than it was the fall after I'd spent a summer working in Yellowstone with some crazy intense people and experiences.  The first line kicked me in the gut. "In 10 years I hope I am much more of a godly woman than I am today."

When I look at that and think about that time in my life I remember how much I leaned into God.  I was lost in Yellowstone, completely out of my comfort zone, and He was the only reason I stayed.  He put people there to support me, but I remember spending many hours reading my Bible and the peace that I had in that season was amazing. Not that I didn't have to learn that lesson again a few times, but it was there.  Now, not so much.

The last line of the letter says, "Help me to be faithful to you and content with wherever you take me in life".  And I look at my life today and think, "Where is the evidence of that?"  If anything I feel so much farther from Him now than I ever have.  I suppose you might say I'm content, but only because I don't know where to go from here.  I don't really think that qualifies at contentment.

And I'm not happy with the way I am.  The hardest part is that I feel like I'm trying.  I feel like I've been trying for the past 10 years.  Trying as best I know how and somehow it's not enough.  Whatever I'm doing isn't the right thing to move me "higher up and farther in" (Lewis). 

I feel like because I have somehow failed in doing what I should, that He is not doing the helping me to get there.  That's the part that kills me.  I am at my wit's end in knowing how to change myself and He says He will change me, but I don't see any change.  I want to be different.  I am trying to be different.  Isn't that supposed to be enough?

In the end I'm left feeling not good enough.  Not good enough in the things I do on a daily basis.  Not good enough for God to want to help me out where I'm at.  I know theologically that last sentence is wrong, but in my reality... that's where it's at.  And for a perfectionist, this is a living nightmare.


Please don't tell me I'm wrong.  Please don't tell me it will get better for whatever reason.  This is already taking all I have to push publish, but I can't live like everything's alright anymore when it's not.

5 lovely comments:

Allison said...

Krista, you are brave to write so honestly. I am sure many people who read this will recognize a lot of themselves in this, and I certainly do- from not liking to do things that I am not naturally good at to feeling like my life is an endless list of failed to-do lists. And I don't even have children, so I hesitate to say anything at all in response to what you wrote except to say that I hear you!

But a couple thoughts, for what they're worth.

I've probably told you about what I think of as my Heaven goggles. In the last year or two it's been absolutely transformative for me to start thinking about Heaven a lot more. The reality of Heaven (an eternity compared to the puff of smoke of this life) changes my perspective here so radically when I really put Heaven into the equation of various life situations. As an example: someday you WILL have a perfectly beautiful and perfectly clean house, all the time you will ever need, your laundry will be done, you will have all of eternity to do the things that give you join and spend time with your family, and you will look back and laugh at the stress you experienced here. Isn't that fun to think about? Of course God still calls us to good stewardship of our resources here (including doing our laundry), but I feel so much more free when I think about the fact that there WILL be a day when my to-do list is done and I am totally mature and complete and all grown up, spiritually.

A second thing I think God is really dealing with me on, is giving up the rot in my schedule. It is an fact of faith for me to say that God really HAS given me all the time to do the things he has given me to do, and I am not sure I truly believe it, but I know it is true. And I truly believe that he wants to give me more time. J reminds me sometimes that even Jesus had just 24 hours in a day, and usually it's when I'm feeling completely overwhelmed so I just want to kick him. But I really think God does want to "give" me more time by getting rid of some big time-wasters in my life that don't really feed my soul. I gave up TV and celebrity gossip for Lent, and some days it is hard to keep to that and I realize what a crutch the mental escapism is. Also what a huge waster of time. We are not huge TV watchers (nor do I feel called to give up TV completely)... but it is so easy to come home from work/school, exhausted, and just collapse in front of the TV for an hour. Tonight was another one of those nights. It is harder to not go that route and force myself to talk to my husband, take time to pray for a friend, or do my laundry. I feel like the single biggest challenge in my life right now is discipline- to put my time where I feel I'm really called to put it, rather than going the easy route. Ditto with the fact that it is so much easier to read celebrity gossip (with which I have a strange fixation) for half an hour before bed rather than reading my Bible. But so much less life-giving for my soul.

Maybe with kids you don't have this kind of rot in your schedule (I'm just sharing where I'm at)... but maybe there is a place you are putting time and energy that God wants to free you from to give you back that time/energy for better things. Just a thought- something to ask him about. :)

And be gentle on yourself- something else I think the Holy Spirit reminds me of often. God is gentle with us and no good comes from falling for the lie that we are miserable screw-ups. Make a list of all the things you do wonderfully (be a wonderful mom, encourage others, book a ticket to see your sister-in-law) and feel God's pleasure over the ways you are being a great steward of what he has given you.

love you!

Allison said...

oops, I mean give you *joy* in second paragraph

Hillary (Mrs. Einstein) said...

Of course you're not good enough; none of us are. And God doesn't expect us to be good enough. He does expect us to keep trying, though, just as you are. Just as you should be. Just as we all should be. Just as I should be. Stay the course, Krista! You've already won the prize. :)

(And thank you for your honesty; you are a much braver woman than I am.)

maren said...

I echo your feelings, Krista and appreciate your honesty today. I'm coming over from UBP, and am a new follower. I truly appreciated your words today, and feel I could have hit the publish button myself. I also appreciate Hillary's comments--good reminder to stay the course because the prize is already ours! Thanks for sharing & nice to meet you! maren. My blog party: http://trinketsofthought.com/2011/04/01/life/ubp-2011-and-50-giveaway

Joel said...

Hi Krista. I'm Joel. I'm a perfectionist. Not even a recovering perfectionist, just a perfectionist. I hate it, and I wish I was different, but alas, I'm still a perfectionist.

I echo the others in thanking you for your honesty. You're very brave, and that is inspiring. I don't think you're wrong to feel the way you do -- feelings are only feelings, and all we can do is ride them out. And in that process, we can choose either to share them with others or keep them trapped inside. I have repeatedly found in my life that keeping them trapped inside destroys me, so I'm trying to share them with others. And you shared your feelings with us. Thanks for trusting us; it makes us all feel honored.

I don't know if this is what you need to hear or not, but I'll give it a try. You know, I think God is so good and gracious that He is equally pleased with your one-line prayers of honest desperation as with your pages of honest journaling in the past. God loves us, warts and all ... and we just can never seem to get our heads or hearts around that. And the great thing about God (well, one of many :-) is that His love isn't dependent on our feelings!

Well, listen to me, telling you things you know already. Maybe you'll get to return the favor sometime -- probably a few years down the road when I have some kids and write a blog post from the "pit of despair" (said in my best Princess Bride albino voice).

Lord, your property is always to have mercy -- have mercy upon us.