7/8/08

Trying So Hard to be Perfect!

Do you struggle with things having to be “just right” before you will have guests over? Or maybe you’ve been that way in the past, and it’s burned out your desire to practice any form of hospitality?

Well I’m offering good news for the “try so hard to be perfect woman.”

The good news is that you can change your approach and attitude!

Let me start with this comment that I received on my blog:
Sandy, thank you so very much for blessing us "try so hard for perfection women" with your blog. In growing up where everything had to be perfect prior to and during entertaining and taking that into my adult life as the norm, I have over the years just stopped entertaining because I didn't want that stress in my life anymore. My heart has changed in large part due to your blog and I am excited to entertain again with a whole new approach and attitude.

This reader was disillusioned by a home life where things had to be perfect. She probably grew weary of it and couldn’t stand the “measure up” attitude anymore. Although I did not have a mother who taught me this outlook, I did struggle with this slightly, right after I got married. I think it had to do more with image (read my post on Image or Reality, here).

I believe many younger women start their marriages off with this “trying so hard for perfection” syndrome. But then we start having kids, and we tend to mellow as life starts to knock perfection out of us! At least that is what happened to me.

I came up with 3 easy steps to keep in mind, or to cut out and hang on your refrigerator, when you feel the “P” word sneaking up on you:

· Be aware of the role of FEAR in your life. What is making you not want to reach out? Do people really see you in this role of having to have things perfect? Does God expect us to have a perfect household before we open our doors to others?

· Cross-examine FEAR to find the lie. Figure out what it is, or if it is an individual who makes you feel this way – don’t have that person into your home! Get down to the nitty-gritty and move on!!

· Show yourself some grace! Would you really be that graceless to another person in their home?

When you consider showing hospitality to others, what are you afraid of? What kind of advice or hurdle have you crossed to get to the place where you are now giving to others?

Hopefully you can relax when the pie comes out of the oven a little too dark (burnt!), or when you realize your kids are grungy and haven’t had a bath, or that you forgot to sweep the kitchen floor, or that you didn’t time your courses just right.

Reality hit me hard just the other day. My daughter asked if she could make a pie for dessert, when our out-of-town guests were here. I was thrilled, because she wanted no help from me, and it eased my mind to know that the dessert would be taken care of.

When the pie was finished, I realized that the bananas were put on TOP of the pie (not on the bottom, and also not soaked in lemon juice). Knowing she messed up, she let me know right away. I then found myself saying, “Don’t worry, Abby, the pie is beautiful! It’s going to taste great!” And it did!


Imperfect Entertaining: Abby's banana cream pie was not perfect, and the bananas turned brown. Yet no one even noticed.

How about you – do you need to be reminded of the 3 P’s when entertaining?

(Photos: Abby’s banana cream pie, with cousin Audrey, made with the bananas on top - before they turned brown.)

Here's a story of a woman who hasn't entertained in nearly 3 years! Read about it, here.

25 comments:

Kirstin said...

Thankfully I did not grow up where things had to be perfect, but at times have felt that pressure from peers. I observe how their homes are, their food arranged, etc..and I think i can't measure up. When in reality it isn't those things in the first place that people are coming for.

I want to create an atmosphere with my daughters that allows them to be who they are and entertain with ease and joy.

Anonymous said...

I live in a small town and everyone is thriving to "keep up with the Jones." We think the more we have the more successful we are. I have sensed that many women are realizing it's OK to just be themselves and fill that void with relationships. It is not what we have or how perfect the house "may seem."



I appreciate you approaching these subjects head-on!

Gena Larson said...

Thanks, Sandy, for a great reminder! I have fallen victim to thinking things (I) have to be perfect, but God is at work in me in that area. Heck, I'm even reading, "The Relief of Imperfection," by Joan C. Webb right now! The timing of this post is perfect. Thanks for allowing God to use you.

Apron Thrift Girl said...

I grew up with the opposite of watching my mom try to have the perfect house, we had the messy house. And when guests came from out of town it took my parents three stressful days to clean the house. Ironically I tend to do the same. My goal though is to get rid of most of the clutter so that we are free of spending each weekend cleaning. If cleaning took only a little of our time, we could actually get back to the important things in life such as spending it with friends and family. Although I'll try to work on being comfortable with my house the way it is when friend's come over. Abby's pie looks beautiful-and I heard from my children that her strawberry pie was incredible!

Jennifer said...

"Do you struggle with things having to be “just right” before you will have guests over?" YES!
I am getting better about just going with the flow but I was raised by a mother who literally would clear off her kitchen counter into paper bags and hide it in her bedroom so that no one would see any clutter. We almost NEVER had company over because she thought everything had to be spotless first and would spend 3 days cleaning and we already had a pretty clean house.
I don't want to do this to my kids.
Help.
Smiles!

Jen said...

I dont ever fret about the food much its the cleaning the hosue that has to be perfect for me...every room....its an obsession. I know it sounds crazy...but I clean like a mad woman when company is coming. I have girlfriends coming over to walk tonight yet I'm cleaning the house like crazy.
Her pie looks great by the way.

Cucina Cara Mia said...

My mother was a perfectionist! I think I went the opposite in caring for my own home, but always enjoyed cooking. Had about 18 people over on July 4th. It was not PERFECT, but it was fun. I like the bananas on top of the pie myself.

Anonymous said...

I really hope that I will learn more and more to react like this to my kids, when they mess up!

We spontanously invited our new Pastor and his wife for Dinner last Sunday - I had burned the mashed potatos slightly, fixed it and you could hardly tell it. Well I didn't say a word - we had a really good fellowship and a lot of fun - and I think they did, too.
Thank you for your encouragement, just to do it, no to worry about perfection.

Dini - a formerly very reluctant entertainer

Mrs. Jules said...

That pie does look wonderful and is one of my favorites.

Great post! I've been kind of forced to let go of perfectionist habits due to summer entertaining. It's a good thing. ;)

GiBee said...

I used to be like this, but I feel like I've been delivered from perfectionism, praise God!

I find more and more that people are forgiving of an imperfect home. Many times, they don't even see it like we do... and worrying over a perfect home or meal is LESS important than the fellowship you enjoy by having a willing and open heart to invite people over. Despite your imperfections. After all -- they have imperfections too!

Irritable Mother said...

I love this saying a friend shared with me several years ago, "If you're coming to see me, stop by anytime. If you're coming to see my house, please call ahead."
I think when we realize people are more interested in us than our "perfect" house, schedule, etc., it's easier to give ourselves grace.
Thanks for sharing these great thoughts!

nel said...

Such a hard lesson to learn. I'm only just getting a grip on it now but it's so worth it. Besides, if we allow our friends into our home when it's less than perfect, we're giving our friends the permission to be real in their own homes too. And isn't that what friendship is all about, somewhere to be real and be yourself :)

I love what you share on your blog. It's so encouraging. Thank you!

By the way, upside down or not, I would love a slice of Abby's banana cream pie, it looks absolutely delicious! What a sweetheart for helping you out like that.

Barb said...

YUM! Abby can come and make pie at our house anytime, brown bananas or otherwise! :o)

Kim said...

Sandy,

Thanks so much for this reminder. I have really seen the sin of perfection in my life and it is my prayer that I won't pass it on to my daughters.

Kim - ScrapToMyLu said...

Sandy, I love your site. You always have the voice of reason.
I have featured you today on Today's Creative Blog!

~nanashouse~ said...

Abby,
Don't tell anyone, but our front door is unlocked. All the ingredients are on the kitchen counter just waiting for you to re-create your beautiful pie! I could almost taste it through the computer :-)
While God is perfect He only asks us to be growing!

abeachcottage said...

hey Sandy, thanks for your comment & the link but more thanks for your blog - I feel like a new woman, like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, I no longer feel ashamed if things aren't quite right...hard to do sometimes in this world commercial world we live in, like I said before when I found your blog the penny dropped (it sure needed to lol!)

I now find myself wondering just who I can invite into my little cottage home next, who I can give the gift of hospitatlity to? isn't it weird what can happen in a week?

I truly believe God sent me to you - he works in Cyberspace too

oh and yes I am keeping those 3P's at the forefront of my mind

Sarah

Homesteader in Training said...

I used to stress out before our annual Christmas party. I would make everyone in my family miserable the day leading up to it. Everything had to be a certain way. My kids would offer to help and I wouldn't take it because it had to be done MY way by ME! I've loosened up quite a bit these days and have realized that the main reason for the get together is to just get together and enjoy one another's fellowship. It sure does make for less stress and the kids don't go into hiding any more lol.
Blessings,
Kim

ValleyGirl said...

You know, it's only been in the last several months that I've finally just decided that I need to be okay with letting people find out I'm not a perfect housekeeper. I still obviously prefer my house to be somewhat neat and tidy, but certainly nothing like what I used to demand of myself before we had people over.

Amy said...

Love it! I found you thanks to Kim and "today's creative blog". I am one of those sort of newly married (3 years) and still trying to figure out what needs to be "perfect" and what doesn't really matter.

Any tips on throwing a baby shower?!

Mrs. Jones said...

Hi Sandy!

Great post (as usual). I realized the other day that your lessons are finally starting to sink in with me! My husband and I used to entertain 1 time a year and it was so much work that we were exhausted afterward. We have casually invited people over SEVERAL times in the past couple months, and it was easy! I lowered my expectations and started thinking ahead. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Oh, and I tried your chicken/salsa crockpot recipe. It's great!

~Heather

Donnetta (momrn2) said...

Ah, the permission not to be perfect! I, for one, need to be reminded of that on a regular basis! Thanks! :-)

Frugal Musings said...

This is something I've been working on. Thanks for the reminder.

You have such a lovely blog. Thanks for the comment you left at mine. That's how I found you.

Blessings

Robin Sue said...

Yup worked real hard to get over the "perfects". I have warmly accepted that I am not perfect and can now laugh at myself. Imperfection makes for better stories anyway!

Tammy said...

I'm late getting in on this...
This post was to me...I'm one of these that worry about things being "right"...wonderful post for so many of us, Sandy!

Hugs,
~Tammy