Great Expectations

Jason and I recently had a conversation about the unrealistic goals I tend to set for myself.  "How do other people do it?" I complained.  "How do they work all day and still have time for family and housework.  I work from home, so you would think it would be easier.  But the house is a mess, I haven't walked or brushed the dogs, and I don't feel like we ever get to spend any real time together.  And still, I'm so exhausted.  What's wrong with me?  Why can't I get it all done?  Other people do it.  Why can't I?"  (Insert dramatic sigh!)  But all drama aside, I was being dead serious.  Jason's answer was a real eye-opener for me.

"Other people have one job; you don't.  You write full time, teach part-time, serve as church pianist part-time, teach piano part-time, not to mention all the other roles you fill in any given week.  You can't do it all.  No one can, so stop setting your expectations so high.  Accept the fact that sometimes the dishes won't get done or the floors won't be swept.  Stop trying so hard."

Trying so hard?  Me?  Who did he think he was talking to?  Unfortunately, I knew exactly who he was talking to.  Me -- the person who takes the verse that says "be ye perfect for I am perfect" way out of context.  The truth is that I want to be perfect.  I want to be able to do it all.  I'd love to go to bed at night knowing that everything was crossed off my day's to-do list, but the sad fact is that some days I don't get to cross anything off my to-do list.  And that leaves me feeling like a first-rate failure.

I desire to be the perfect Christian, the perfect wife, the perfect housekeeper, the perfect writer, the perfect teacher, the perfect pianist, not to mention the perfect family member, friend and church member.  I'm a perfectionist,and I crave perfection.  (Go figure!)  But Jason's statement helped me to realize that my "great expectations" weren't helping me to reach perfection.  In fact, they were a hindrance to me.  By setting realistic goals in my life, I was dooming myself to continuous failure.  No one (except God Himself) could possibly meet the daily goals I set for myself.  What makes me think I can?  And furthermore, why do I try?  Is it for pride?  Is it for a sense of accomplishment?  Is it so that others will like me more?  To be honest, I'm not sure what drives my perfectionism, but I do know that my perfectionism is driving me crazy.

And so, I'm trying to dial down my expectations and set realistic goals that I'm able to meet.  This leaves me feeling satisfied and refreshed instead of downhearted and angry.  It hasn't been easy, but I've also been trying more and more to set my daily agenda in God's hands and say, "This is what I had planned today, but Your plans are more important.  What would you have me do today?"  It's amazing the difference it makes in both mind and body.

What kind of expectations do you have for today?  Have you set yourself up for failure?  Turn your plans over to God, and allow Him to set your goals.  You won't be sorry!

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. - Psalm 118:24