Those are hard words for a perfectionist like me to hear.
Seriously… they are.
They are also one of the last things that my counselor said to me this past week. Sigh.
I had talked to Tricia about stressing out all week because we were hosting our small group for the first time in about 4 weeks. Our house has been a disaster (and right now it isn’t much better) because I have been only doing a “maintenance” cleaning the past four weeks. Running after 2 kids and dealing with other things ends up eating up the time I would normally be doing deeper cleaning… (or maybe that is reading, not cleaning!!!)
Anyway, I was stressing out about how much there was to get done, and Tricia said that she needed to teach me that “good was good enough.”
Little did I know then, that those words would be my mantra for the next 2 days!
All day Wednesday I tried to clean the house. Every time I got one corner clean and moved onto the next, the kids undid what I just finished. I felt like I was running circles all day. And, all day I had the worst heartburn. I couldn’t believe how bad it was. You would think that after eating Tums all day, I would get the hint.
Finally that evening I got a clue, and took some anti-anxiety medicine. Gee, who knew? My heartburn calmed down, and the knot in my stomach (that I didn’t even know was there) disintegrated.
I still didn’t get a clue, and the next day, when we were going to be hosting our small group, I was still driving myself nuts to get everything done. I had a list too long to possibly accomplish, and added more as the day went on. I was stressed to the max, and wasn’t able to let go of things that were unnecessary.
To top it off, I had a short devotional time with the Lord in the morning, but I was distracted by the kids, and it was really hard to even pray. I couldn’t keep a line of thought going long enough. I went through the whole day trying to keep up, catch up, clean up. All day I was breathing short “Help me” prayers.
Two hours before everyone was to arrive, I lost it in the kitchen. I was trying to iron a table cloth, and found myself beating myself up for “ruining” it (bleached out parts of it), and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I realized at that point, I needed a major reality check. I had been allowing myself to be bombarded by thoughts of failure, condemnation, and the feeling like I wasn’t good enough. I was feeling like everyone coming over would see all the things that I didn’t get done, and even if they didn’t say anything to me, would be condemning me in their thoughts.
Now, I had no reason to believe these thoughts. I had no previous evidence that my small group would do that. As a matter of fact, I knew our small group was just focusing on us all being together for the first time in over a month. I knew the important thing was each other, not the condition of the place in which we met.
I was being bombarded by lies, and I couldn’t stop them.
I was so exhausted, and so wound tight from the last two days, I couldn’t stop the thoughts that were causing all the feelings flooding me.
About 45 minutes before our small group (our family) were to arrive, I told my husband Dave that I just needed to shower and have a little bit of time alone. I got into the shower, and sat in the bottom of the tub, and prayed, and then cried… a little bit. I didn’t have much time to spare. Just that little time of prayer helped. I was able to ask God to forgive me for trying to do it all on my own for the past few days, and to help me give the rest of the night to Him.
After that it still took me a while to relax. I wasn’t able to fully relax until we were sitting around the living room sharing and praying. After everyone left, I felt the anxiety kick in, as an after effect of the stress and tension I had been under all day.
It literally took me all day Friday to relax and recover from the stress of the week. Seriously, this is ridiculous. I can’t believe that I stressed myself out so badly about having close friends over, that it took me a full day to recover, just from getting the house ready!
I am such a perfectionist that I can’t let one little thing go, and if the table isn’t perfectly set, or there is a dirty window, or dust visible on something, it drives me nuts, but only when there is company coming over! And I can never get it all done, so even if no one says anything, I find myself feeling embarrassed and apologetic. I wish you could see inside my head when someone just “pops over” for a little bit. I am nearly paralyzed at times by the shame at the condition of the house, kids, myself, etc. I try to put on hold a lot of things but basic cleaning and laundry when the kids are up and around because I want to spend my time with them, at least as much as I am able.
That sounds great… right now. It’s a good excuse… right now. But when people come over, I feel like I am going crazy.
And what drives me even more crazy is that I love to host people. I love having people over to my house and making them feel comfortable and welcome. I just have such internal stress about how things look, and if I remembered everything, that it is hard for me to enjoy.
I think Tricia is right. We are going to have to work on this perfectionist streak in me….
And I am going to have to somehow remember, “Good is good enough,” and let God take care of the rest.