Today will not go as perfectly planned. In fact, it’s already off the rails. Do your best. Don’t quit. Good is good enough.
I am horrible with schedules. Being on time is ridiculously hard for me (and harder for the rest of my family, so you can imagine getting out the door with our crew is LOADS of fun), which everyone who knows me well has experienced. I wish I could be one of those people who could shrug it off, but I also feel it deeply like a moral failure. (It’s also SUPER fun to be a perfectionist but not also a Type A organized person…)
When I’m being an organized person and using my daily planner, I rough out the time allotment for each task in half hour increments, and I shoot for that as I work through the day. BUT, I have yet to ever complete a perfectly planned day perfectly. It never happens. It probably never will happen. BUT, it doesn’t stop me from trying.
I know the definition of insanity is to try the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome, so I tweak my approach once in a while. I’m not completely crazy – just a little nuts most of the time…
No matter how hard I try, something is going to derail my perfect planner day.
I’m generally resilient enough to adapt and still get the big things done (see last week’s post about prioritizing tasks), but one of the worst perfectionist personality traits is the desire to just chuck it all if it can’t be done perfectly. I have those days once in a while, and I have to make myself finish the day. It’s usually not pretty. I probably act more childish than my child about it.
Most of the time, a quick gut check is enough to remind me what’s important, and I just roll with it. Wherever you go, there you are. So if the derailed perfect plan train takes me hallway around the world, that’s fine: I’ll see new sights. I have been described more than once as “unflappable.”
Some days, I am flappable. I need to be reminded that not quitting may be the best I can do, and that’s okay. I just need to do the best I can in that moment, even if it’s not the best I could have done in other circumstances. I keep trying to work my way to being perfect, but I can’t be. The truth is, without grace, my whole life is a runaway train, and there’s not a thing I can do about it.
That’s a tough pill for a perfectionist to swallow, but it’s the grace that Jesus taught over and over.
“But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.’” Luke 10:41-42
“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.’” Matthew 11:28-30
I’m not saying we shouldn’t work hard or pay attention to the details – God wants us to offer our best when we work – but I am saying sometimes we get wrapped up in the wrong details. I can get honed in on a particular set of circumstances and miss the big picture.
In the next few weeks leading up to school start dates (or not starting, or partial weeks, or whatever the plan is today), we’re all going to need grace to make it work. Some of us may need a lot of help to make it work. My teacher and school administrator friends are going to need so, so, so much prayer from us and grace from their classroom parents just to stay sane. We’re all going to need resiliency and (say it with me this time) grace to make it through the semester when the only constant is change.
I’ll be telling myself over and over to step back and find the one thing worth being concerned about and going hard after that. Here’s a secret: it’s always going to be loving God and loving people. That’s always the big picture, and it never changes. Let’s hang on to that while our perfect schedule trains ride off the rails into new territory. I bet the scenery will be worth it.