Wednesday, April 30, 2014

of Sparkly Green Earrings, and grace for recovering perfectionists

Photo credit: William Broughton, age 6

I hate nits.  

I’ve had them one time, and that was one time too many.  

So, just now, I shuddered appreciatively and indulged in an empathetic skin-crawl while reading the chapter called “Nitpicking” in Melanie Shankle’s honest, hilarious book on motherhood, Sparkly Green Earrings.  

Yesterday at nap time I raced through the first 10 chapters, foregoing my doze to gobble up just one more - and then one more - hilarious anecdote about sleep deprivation, potty training, and projectile vomiting.

But in Chapter 17, I found the gem of the book, for me.  The nugget of truth worth the price of the book.  The pearl of wisdom which made me stop in my tracks, switch off my Kindle, lay it on the bedside table, close my eyes, snuggle deep under my blanket, and pray, 

Lord, this is me.  This is SO me.  Help!

Here’s how Melanie ends Chapter 17:

“I think I’d been living under the illusion that I could give Caroline a perfect childhood.  But perfect doesn’t exist in our world. (Oh, how I wish it did!) 

“I can give her love, I can give her laughter, I can instill values and morals in her, I can teach her about Jesus and how he loves her more than she knows, and I can hopefully give her more good memories than bad.

“And I can pick the nits out of her hair, one little larva at a time.

“But I can’t give her perfection, because I’m fresh out. 

“That’s where the grace of God enters, and I exit quietly through the back door, allowing him to fill in the gaps.”

That’s Melanie.  Straight up.  No beating around the bush.  Gut level.  

“I can’t give her perfection, because I’m fresh out.” 


Reading those words felt like a punch in the stomach, and also at the same time like a burden lifting off.  

Yes.  That is totally true of me, I thoughtBravely, I might add.  (For a recovering perfectionist, that’s a big admission.) 

I am fresh out of perfection, much as I try desperately to pretend otherwise every. single. day.  

Whew!  Who needs to try anymore?  I’m done.  I’m done pretending to be perfect, because everyone - including me - knows it’s a big sham.  

And then that beautiful image, the one that had me crawling under my blanket with my eyes closed to savor the comfort:

That’s where the grace of God enters and I exit quietly through the back door, allowing him to fill in the gaps.”



The relief of that picture, an invitation to let go of my striving to be the perfect mother, and just quietly slip out the back door. 

The delightful, dependable ability of God to fill in all the gaps - everything I’ve left undone, all my mistakes, all the things I agonize over not being able to give my children.  

So thank you, Melanie, for putting it all out there, and for expressing truths we all feel but sometimes can’t quite wrap words around.  

And Lord…

Please give me grace, every day, to accept the reality of my limitations.  Help me learn how to rejoice in them, even though right now they make me cringe!

Free me from pride and the desperate need to measure up, so I can live joyfully in your strength, not mine.  

And please fill in all the gaps for my kids, so they learn how to rely on you, too.  


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