Being a perfectionist in the things that count

Are you a detail person?

Do you like everything just so?

Are you a person who tries to look perfect, keep a beautiful house, and be completely organized—perhaps above and beyond?

Do you get frustrated when you don’t hit your personal targets and goals?

You’re not alone!

By the way, who doesn’t like a clean, pretty home, nice hair and make-up, and being organized? Some of us only dream of it, but some—hats off to you—actually live that way.

I truly believe there’s sloppy and neat DNA. Some children are born organizers, and others are . . . “relaxed.” A man once told us about his mother-in-law, who “walked around with a cloth in her hand, wiping surfaces all day long.” He said he was afraid to move in her house. (I know his own mother keeps a spotless home, so you can imagine that this was excessive.) Others are quite comfortable not being able to walk across the floor without doing some kind of obstacle course maneuver. They move a pile of magazines to be able to sit down without batting an eye! Dust? What dust?

Everyone is a pocket perfectionist. There are things every person has to do in a certain way.

  • Think of the scientist who may not match his blazer to his shirt or tie, but this guy will never make a mistake in measurements.
  • How about the chef? The sauce is perfect. He knows just how much salt to sprinkle, how to brown the butter, how to simmer the onions so they caramelize. But, he doesn’t care if the living room has furniture or the fence gets fixed.
  • The author edits, re-edits, and she reads her sentences out loud. She asks friends for input. She wants to produce the next great masterpiece—or at least keep her readers entertained and flipping pages. She might totally overlook piling laundry and forget to iron.
  • A nurse is compassionate and efficient. She conserves movement and liberally expends her emotional energies. She works twelve-hour shifts and honestly doesn’t care if her bed gets made.

But, what about the always perfectionist? She’s the lady who has to have everything perfect all the time.

“Impossible,” you say. And, you’re right.

She’s set herself up for disappointment before she even begins. In seeking perfection, this woman is always looking at herself: her performance, her organization skills, her manicure, her make-up, her housekeeping, her decorating . . . her . . . own . . . life. She does think of others—after all, they’re the ones who see and judge all she accomplishes—but, she’s mostly thinking of her life. She’s selfish.

I used to have a magnet on my refrigerator. It said, “Self-ish or self-less?” Ouch.

Are you a perfectionist?

Do you hold yourself up to an almost impossible ideal?

Do you feel like you’re always lacking?

Moms think they need all kinds of advice, when all they need to do is follow God’s Word, the Bible, and learn from older women (Titus 2:3-5, below).

Women think they need to follow styles and look a certain way, when the Bible says, Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price (1 Peter 3:3-4). The heart matters much more than clothing and accessories.

Some women compare themselves to their impressions of others. Believe me, I’ve found out that some of the women who look very put-together don’t have everything in order. And, some of the scatterbrained and seemingly unorganized ladies do. (There are a few superwomen out there. I have met a few, and I could probably count all these phenomena on one hand.)

What does God want in a woman? What are His standards?

  • She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Proverbs 31:26).
  • A meek and quiet spirit (strength, self-control, and trusting God (1 Peter 3:4).
  • She’s gracious. A gracious woman retaineth honour (Proverbs 11:16a).
  • The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life (Proverbs 31:11-12).
  • She takes care of her household. (Proverbs 31:15, 21, 27)
  • She dresses nicely, but her character is the most important thing. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come (Proverbs 31:22, 25).
  • She respects the Lord. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised (Proverbs 31:30).
  • Older women are to be examples and teach younger women. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:3-5).

So, what should we strive for? Good character, a sweet attitude, wise and pleasant speech, responsibility, housekeeping, and learning from and teaching others.

A woman’s reward? Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised (Proverbs 31:28, 30).