She hops up on the bed next to me and lays on her side, her hand propping up her showered wet head. Honey colored tendrils slide down and pool on the white comforter as she asks the words slowly,
“So, mama? Did you enjoy your Mother’s Day?”
I turn her direction and answer,
“Of course I did! What made you think I didn’t?”
“Well, you got mad a couple times, like when Georgie threw up on the floor and on my bed.”
“Oh, well yes. I didn’t particularly enjoy coming home and finding that after church. But that certainly didn’t ruin my day.” I’m thinking back now, wondering if I made that mess worse by complaining about it too much.
Faith lays her head down on the comforter.
“Well, I’m sorry it snowed today.”
Ah, yes. The Mother’s Day snowstorm. That I know I complained about too much.
I scoot over to her, wrap my arms around her waist. I breathe in the sweet smell of her damp hair and breath out the words,
“No amount of snowfall or doggy mess could take away from all the glorious goodness that was my Mother’s Day. I loved my special breakfast and your beautiful cards and the garden plants and hanging out with you!” I squeeze her a little harder.
Her runway long eyelashes flutter upwards,
“So, you did enjoy your day then, right?”
I stare into her smoky blue eyes. Why doesn’t she believe I mean what I say? And then I remember she is my daughter. Her eyes tell me that because the day was less than perfect, it must not have been good.
“You know,” I say. “The opposite of perfect isn’t bad. The opposite of perfect is still good. Very good. Wonderful! My day wasn’t perfect, but it was perfectly wonderful and I couldn’t have asked for better.”
I hold onto her eyes when I say it because I want her to know it. I want her to know I appreciate the efforts she gave even more than the results. Because as much as I adored the garden flowers and handmade cards, the day was a success simply because she and her brothers tried.
Still, I can tell she wonders if she should have tried harder.
And indeed, we can run ourselves ragged wondering if we should have tried harder to make something better. We want to know what we’ve created – from the Mother’s Day card to the chicken casserole to the blog post – is good enough. We want the gifts that pass from our hands – the gifts we make or use or buy – to make the cut. And then when we’re told they most certainly did make the cut, we still wonder if we should have ran a little further, wrote a little better, or hugged a little longer.
My daughter has to believe for herself that perfect isn’t a worthy goal. I can’t make her know that when she tries, she’s already a success.
But I can tuck these reminders in her heart.
I sit up on the bed and look at Faith again while smoothing out her long hair.
“Do you remember what Aunt Holley says?” I ask, curling my fingers around her golden ends. And she says the words with me, words that are a banner over all of us,
“You don’t have to be perfect because you’re perfectly loved.”
“So if you don’t have to be perfect then your days don’t have to be perfect and what you create doesn’t have to be perfect. It will be very good, gloriously good.”
I need to remember to say this more often.
I turn one delicate page of Scripture to page 2 of Genesis and find the master Creator’s words about His own work of art,
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
There is nothing about how it was very perfect.
He creates what is very good, and He who is in us helps us do the same.
And those words are good enough for us to hold onto, a perfect banner over our hearts.
Amy Tilson says
…and exhale. Deep sigh. Thank you so much for these gracious words. I needed them badly this evening!
I just love you, Amy. xo
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
I am a recovering “perfectionist”…I fell into that trap of believing if it wasn’t perfect it was therefore bad. What a lie from the enemy meant to disarm us. I read somewhere that God doesn’t ask about our ability or inability, He asks about our availability. He wants to do the work through us and that takes a big burden off of us to be perfect. I love Aunt Holley’s words – so perfect to keep in mind. We ARE perfectly loved and that’s what truly matters. Thanks for a great reminder…
Beth Williams says
Love love love Aunt Holley’s words… We aren’t perfectly made just perfectly loved!
This is something I need to reinforce into my brain. So often if people don’t acknowledge me and my try hard attitude then I feel I must try all the harder to get noticed. All that does is wear me out. I need to know that once I try and give it my best then I’m done.
It’s so easy to complain when things aren’t perfect.When we should embrace the still good!