Freedom in God’s Design
A few years ago, my daughter took piano lessons. I remember her first class; she walked in wide-eyed, ponytailed and full of excitement. I waited thirty minutes in the van while she earned a piece of Laffy Taffy after tapping an introduction with the black and white keys. I was catching up on texts and emails when I saw her walking out of the soundproof room.
Parents often take on their kids’ emotions like a piece of clothing. I flung on the excitement her face had written all over it, eager to hear how practice had gone.
We drove home as she peeled the wrapper away from the candy it stuck to and told me about the half-hour in-between bites. As soon as we pulled into the driveway, she rushed to her room with piano books under her arm, ready to practice everything she had learned. I was left picking up tiny pieces of Laffy Taffy wrapper and closing the passenger door.
I headed inside to start dinner, met with music filling her room, flowing out and down the hallway into the kitchen. It stopped as I was shredding the chicken for tacos. She shouted she needed my help. I set down the forks and headed to her room. She was upset; she had already forgotten what to do with the white keys.
I glanced at the book, and from what I could tell, it was only the black keys she needed to worry about for the week. I tried to tell her this about five times, but she insisted she was to do more, and now I wouldn’t be able to sign off on her practices, which would help her earn a coveted prize.
This competitive girl is all for the transaction of hard work for something in return. Her insistence turned into frustration, then tears. She’s a perfectionist at heart. Something I, unfortunately, relate to.
I hate the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” Perfection doesn’t mean doing everything right. As a perfectionist myself, my outcome rarely meets my desires. When the outcome is not as I envision, I yearn to do more and end up unsatisfied. I take up my guilt and put on a “P” like a scarlet letter.
Perfectionism is a prison, placing bars around the present moments, locking us out of our lives.
Sometimes, I struggle to pry the bars open, releasing the prison I’ve created for myself, and the strain is even more challenging when also trying to free my daughter. I haven’t figured out how to shed that scarlet letter, but I’m taking steps to stop letting it be the lens through which I see things.
In moments like these, I try to remember Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (ESV).
It’s hard to be intentional about anything in our lives when we are seeking perfection. This kind of striving keeps us from pursuing the good things God has placed in our lives and the abundant life He offers.
When my daughter’s eyes welled with tears, and frustration flowed from her head to the tips of her fingers as she struggled with the keys, I spoke to myself as much as to her when I told her our desire for perfection was not from above. When our hands and hearts feel empty, may we let Christ fill our souls and rest in His perfection rather than our own.
Sarah Nichols is a writer who loves encouraging women by sharing hope-filled stories that point others to Jesus. She lives in Tucson, AZ, with her husband and four kids. You can find more from Sarah at http://sarahnicholswrites.com