Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Less than perfect

Most of you realize there is no such thing as a perfect mother.
Perfect wife, perfect Christian, perfect person.
In this world, we can be sure of one thing-only Jesus was perfect.

Still, we keep trying. Yesterday while two of my three sweet daughters were in their rooms sleeping or occupying themselves and the oldest was reading library books on the couch, I tackled the task of mopping our hardwood floor (not easy because nobody can travel from point A to point B until the floor is dry). Usually we keep it well swept and just spot-wipe the spills, but a thorough mopping is not a task that is easy or fun around here. While mopping, the epiphany set in that God doesn't have a plan for me to be a Perfect Tammy someday in this lifetime.

You'd think I would have realized that by now, but somewhere I got it in my head that Perfect Mother Tammy existed. That I was continually being measured against her standard of perfection and that at some point I would eventually "arrive". No longer would I be bothered with impatience, but would handle all tantrums with serene angelic peace. I would find loving, non-sarcastic ways to speak motivation into my children, showing them the rewards of obedience. The threatening and nagging would be a dim scratch on the surface of my new glowing approach to motherhood. My children would blossom into compliant, well-behaved members of society. They would no longer talk back to me, they would eat whatever was served to them instead of using such gems as "eew" or "I don't like it" or "That smells bad". (Who knew kids wouldn't want to eat hearty oatmeal with apples, cranberries and almonds in the packet at Grandma's house? They prefer plain oatmeal with milk and a little brown sugar.)

Truth be told, I've had a problem with perfectionism for most of my life. My first name, Tammy, is a Hebrew name that means "perfection". I can still remember the day I received a 99% on a spelling test in third grade and burst into tears. I still remember misspelling the word "bulldozer" (forgot an "L") in the fifth grade spelling bee.
Achievement seems to be something I strive toward. I want my performance for God to earn His approval and admiration. "Well done, Good and Faithful Servant." (that is Biblical) "I am impressed how you crammed an 80 hour work week into 60 hours faithfully. I'm keeping track of all those deeds you're doing for me. You're busy for me. Way to go!" (not Biblical but very indicative of our culture)

If we don't have something to show for our efforts, we cannot receive applause. My sweet husband gets to hear me tell him excitedly when I've completed some deep cleaning task that might otherwise go unnoticed (which is why it is an event in our house). There is a hole in our heart, our very soul that cries out, "Notice me!" "Tell me I'm doing a good job!" "Let me know that I matter!"

It's a needy, selfish soul we have, but our Creator made us that way. He and He alone can fill that need. This is my current prayer, that He would tear the veil of self that I'm hiding behind and take me to the cross. That I'll face the gods of self-esteem, self-awareness, self-confidence, to name a few, and kick them to the curb that He in His glory would reign on the throne of my heart.

My mom will be the first to point out to you that my middle name, Jean, means "by God's grace".

Ephesians 2:8-9 Good News Translation (GNT)

8-9For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it.

In the light of His perfection, I can simply be the Tammy He created me to be. A little louder than some, though I try to be mild, but eager to please Him and trying very hard to do my best. He gave me the children that I have specifically because they'd be in my care daily-but not because He wanted me to do it without His help. Until we are aware of our need for His help, we forget to ask.
He has been STRONGLY making me aware of my need for His help for the last year and a half. But now, I'm starting to get it.
:) Thanks, Lord. Your infinite patience is greatly appreciated.
And, no longer having to achieve perfection, your yoke truly is easy and your burden is much lighter than the one I've been lugging around!


  1. I feel that strive to be the perfect mom too. I guess if we are trying to do what is right, we are not failures in His eyes. We are always His best work in progress. Great reminder to not carry that perfection burden. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Becky. :) You have a glow about you and have been faced with challenges I could not dream experiencing, yet your faith is steady. There is no doubt about the calling of motherhood on your life. God has an extra special mansion and crown waiting for you and Ben. I can't wait until we get to see it! :) Your Kaleb and my little Joy are already home.
      You bless and encourage me while we're still finishing this marathon down here.