The Power of Imperfection
I’m a laid-back perfectionist. Seriously, it’s a thing. I am completely at peace going out in public looking like I just got electrocuted in the shower, fully clothed, while cutting my hair, but I won’t even attempt (fill-in-the-blank) if there’s a small chance of failure. I don’t know if that’s being a perfectionist or just a coward.
Being the type of person that has to excel at everything, while also being a stay-at-home-mom, while also being a terrible homemaker (i.e. the current state of my kitchen) is like putting lots of bad ingredients into a blender and turning it on without a lid. It didn’t take long for my stuff to splash everywhere.
When I got married, I realized very quickly that I wasn’t the perfect wife. It was shocking to no one but me. Much to my dismay, I wasn’t as good of a cook as I’d planned on being; I wasn’t as good of a hostess as I’d planned on being; I wasn’t as good of a decorator as I’d planned on being; I wasn’t as good of a housekeeper as I’d planned on being.
Then came kids, and all the grand ideas that would win me “Best Mom Ever” and my children “Best Raised Children Ever” started bubbling up within me. I just knew I’d craft the Holy Spirit right into them, install an incredibly spiritual and relaxing bedtime routine, and make whimsical memories, guys, every single day, all while maintaining an adorably immaculate home.
So, when I never really got around to doing a daily craft and bedtime almost always ended with “GET. IN. BED. RIGHT. NOW.” through gritted teeth and all the most prominent memories seemed to involve tantrums or poop and my home was hardly adorable and never clean, the perfectionist in me (whom I lovingly refer to as Satan) started to whisper things…
Every other mom is doing more than you. And doing it better
They won’t turn out okay if you keep this up.
He couldn’t possibly love someone that can’t get their crap together.
You are ruining this.
You are SO not enough.
About a bajillion years ago, God chose Gideon to save the Israelites. In the story (Judges 6-8), Gideon is not so sure God chose the right person for the job and asks God to prove it… twice (Ahem. YES. That would be me.).
Once Gideon realizes that God’s not messin’ around, he gathers up as many men as he can find to go defeat the Midianites’ army of 135,000. He’s feeling a little meager at 32,000, but trusts that God is with him and heads out anyway.
He’s already an underdog. This is already destined to be a Cinderella story. Gideon’s army is like the Butler of the Bible.
But GUESS WHAT?? God sees that underdog army and tells him, “You have TOO MANY men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her…” get rid of some.
There are too many, he says. The victory might be mistaken for a triumph of your own strength, he says. GET RID OF SOME, he says.
You want to see me work? You want to know I’m here? You want to know how much I love you and am for you. Get rid of some. Get them out of my way.
Gideon sheds 22,000 men. He is now down to 10,000 soldiers to battle the Midianites.
So, get this. God says, listen … “There are still too many men.” It is still possible that victory could mistakenly be attributed to your army. GET RID OF SOME MORE. So, Gideon siphons them down to a mere three hundred.
God tells Gideon to take THREE HUNDRED men to battle against an army of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-FIVE THOUSAND. 300 to 135,000. As a former sixth-grade math teacher, I can reduce like a boss: that is ONE to every 450.
Sometimes, when I look at my three children and my husband, they seem like 135,000 Midianites, which would explain the mess in my living room. I feel the need to muster all my own strength, do more, try harder, power through.
I plan and plot ways to guarantee victory, guarantee perfection in my children, in my marriage, but then the Lord gently reminds me,
Stop striving. Stop working so hard to do this all on your own. Trust me to do my job.
In the end, when this is all said and done, I want you to be able to see MY glory. Not yours. SO, GET RID OF SOME. GET OUT OF MY WAY.
That part about not being enough? It’s true. I’m absolutely not enough. I can’t do it all. God intended it that way. He created me. He purposefully placed gaps, imperfections, in me so that he might come fill them, if I’d only let him.
My imperfection magnifies his perfection. My incompleteness points to his completeness. My insufficiencies create space for him to work. I can use them as a megaphone to shout,
“My God covers it all, fills it all, does it all, because I tried and I can’t. Anything good that happens here, that was not me, that was Him.”
Mamas, if you’re floundering and flailing, if you’re gasping for air, stop trying to fill your own gaps by doing more and trying harder. You can’t. You won’t fit. Just get out of his way and make space for Him.
Then, he can display his power. Then, you can find his peace.
Raising a family, one that makes it to the other side loving the Lord and liking each other, that would take much more than a clean house and a perfect mom. That would take a miracle.
A miracle. Like if an army of 300 defeated 135,000. Something like that.
Jordan and her husband Clark live in North Richland Hills, TX with their three kids, ages 4, 3, and 1. She is a teacher turned stay-at-home-mom and attempts to blog on the blessed occasion that all three kids’ naps align. For stories that will make you feel better about yourself, visit her blog at jordanharrell.com.