Oh my, The Pioneer Woman, don’t you just love her? Her life seems picture perfect. She lives on a successful ranch with her handsome and adoring husband and their four well-adjusted, amazing children. She’s a talented photographer, decorator, writer, homeschooler, and cook. She has a show on the FoodNetwork, a magazine, a popular blog, a line of home and kitchen products, a retail shop, and just recently opened a beautiful lodge. Sigh. She is perfection. I write that with just the slightest tinge of envy.
The Struggle is Real
Like so many women, I’ve struggled with perfectionistic tendencies my entire life. Growing up, my mother lovingly encouraged me, telling me God had great plans for me. I believed that with my whole being, but what were His grand plans for me? In reality, He has chipped away at my ideas of greatness and perfection for the better part of 50 years and He continues to chip away.
Early in our marriage, I knew I was being called to let go of grandiose ideas of my own career in sacrifice to the very real demands of being a military wife. I realized I could not support my husband’s Air Force career adequately if I pursued my chosen career as an educator and school counselor. With the arrival of our first child, I discovered my true vocation as wife and mother. No problem. I would be the perfect wife and mother; run the perfect household and raise perfect children.
Ha! Nothing turns a woman’s idyllic vision inside out quite like the gift of free-will given to her children. Over the course of 18 years we were blessed with seven kids—all of whom were given very strong wills of their own and they wanted nothing of my perfection. Thank God for them. I needed that lesson desperately. I needed to be shown I was not in control and I needed to let go of my idea of perfection.
A short list of the perfections I’ve had to let go of over the years would include:
-having a career outside the home in exchange for living in the shadow of my husband’s career and to be a hidden homemaker.
-cloth diapering, ecological breastfeeding, making my own baby food in exchange for convenience and sanity.
-a rock solid K-12th grade homeschool plan in exchange for allowing two of our children to attend high school outside our home.
-a clean and efficiently run home initially in exchange for naps, and books, and snuggling with my babies, and more recently in exchange for teaching our children how to do chores—even if they don’t do them perfectly.
-perfectly prepared and well-balanced meals in exchange for allowing our children to explore their own culinary tastes and talents.
-obedient and faithful children in exchange for strong-willed, independent children who may stray; because even if we parented perfectly, they still have free-will and must choose to follow Christ of their own accord.
-healthy, comfortable relationships with extended family in exchange for accepting and praying through messy, difficult relationships.
He is the Answer
With each case, He gently prodded me into letting go of my vision. Nudging me to lean into Him and to become ever more dependent upon Him and the kind of perfection He is calling me to.
To the best of my ability I try to cultivate the many talents I’ve been given and I’ve become adept at many things—I’m a writer, photographer, homemaker, homeschooler, gardener, etc. but I am not called to be The Pioneer Woman. Slowly, I’ve handed over my ideas of perfection to God. It has taken me many years to see, acknowledge, and embrace my littleness; for it is in my littleness that I best serve Him and my family.
“If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!”—St. Catherine of Siena
Embrace the Littleness
Dear sistas, if we are completely honest, the vast majority of us are called to living out our our time here on earth in littleness. It is in our hidden lives that we work out our salvation. It is in quiet, humble, obedient service we can best become the saints we are called to be. We are called to embrace imperfection and littleness so that we might be ever more perfected in Him.
“Be patient. God isn’t through with me yet.”