The kids were out of school for parent teacher conferences today. Bethany wanted to make her traditional "Day Off of School Pancakes". By herself. I was happy to let her.
She forgot one thing, however. The batter bowl is too heavy for her to hold with one hand over the griddle while she scoops batter with the other. So she drips batter everywhere, and can't work fast enough to start flipping before the pancakes are too dark. After scooping the first round, she got very flustered and upset and yelled, "I'm not up to it!"
I asked Bethany how many pancakes she thought I made before they started turning out round and golden (almost) every time. She asked, "HOW many?" I told her I had no idea, but a lot. And they're still not all perfect. It reminded me of when I was living overseas and went to a seminar for language learners. The presenter concluded the seminar by saying that research indicates a person has to make a million mistakes to learn to speak a language fluently. "So get out there and make those mistakes!" Bethany laughed at that.
Then I got to thinking of a conversation I had with my 22 year old nephew a few months ago. I asked him if he considered himself a perfectionist. Without hesitation he answered, "Oh yeah! It's the (my maiden name) genes." I laughed at that and told him I've always denied perfectionism in myself based on the condition of my household at any given moment. He said, "People whose houses are always clean aren't perfectionists, they're OCD." I laughed at that, but at the same time felt like I had been "busted" once and for all.
I've been thinking about that for quite some time. I don't want to pass on my perfectionist tendencies to my kids, so I've decided to face them and ask God to help me let them go. I am learning.
The apostle Paul wrote about asking God three times to take away his "thorn in the flesh", something that apparently presented itself as a weakness. But God said to him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Paul continued, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. " (2 Corinthians 12:9)
These verses have never been among my favorites. In fact, I have wished on more than one occasion that they weren't there at all. I want to give God glory by being a shining example of his strength--not by letting him be strong in my weakness. I've been daring to pray that God would allow me to boast gladly about my weaknesses. I know that's about as smart as praying for patience or humility. But it's what I know I need, and I can finally say it's what I want. It's part of passing along a legacy of grace to my kids. They need to know that the God who will always be with them wherever they go is big enough to handle their mistakes. And their mom's mistakes. We can all rest securely in him regardless of our performance.