I’ve read your book No More Perfect Moms. It has been absolutely life-changing for me as I have learned to love my real life.
I have one question, though: What’s the difference between excellence and perfection? I’m trying to figure that out as I try to move away from expecting perfection, but still having an understanding of excellence.
An Inquiring Mom
Dear Inquiring Mom,
This is a great question that deserves to be understood! Some short answers are:
Excellence is something done well.
Perfection is something done without fault.
Excellence is attainable.
Perfection is unattainable.
Excellence is positive.
Perfection is negative.
Excellence gives a sense of satisfaction.
Perfection is never satisfied.
Excellence is freeing.
Perfection is binding.
Excellence allows for failure.
Perfection punishes failure.
Excellence is motivated by confidence.
Perfection is motivated by fear.
Excellence comes from God.
Perfection comes from the world.
What does this look like in a mom’s world?
Here’s an example: A mom is supposed to provide snacks for her son’s baseball team. Her desire is to make something homemade. However, she’s had two sick children, a husband who’s been putting in overtime, and her parents who live nearby have needed more help than usual. Baking is just not something that can be realistically accomplished this time. In freedom, she picks up cupcakes at the bakery of her grocery store. This is an excellent choice based upon her limitations and what is going on in her life. There’s no sense of failure. She accomplished what she needed to accomplish in the best way for her family.
Excellence says there are many ways to accomplish something. It allows for context. Perfection says there is only one way to accomplish something. There is no context or considerations made.
Perfection steals our joy and results in hopelessness. It sets us up for failure. If we expect perfection from ourselves we will be in perpetual disappointment. If we expect perfection from others, we will be hyper-critical.
Excellence motivates us to do well within the reality of our temperament, our talents, and our circumstances. We “hit the mark” in context of all those things. When we expect excellence from ourselves we work toward a goal with cushioned with grace. When we expect excellence from others, we set goals and encourage under the umbrella of grace, that allows for humanity–mistakes and all.
We are motivated to excellence out of our relationship with a loving, grace-filled God who is perfecting–or improving us–everyday. We are encouraged in Colossians 3:23 with these words, ” Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Excellence happens when we give our best to God, knowing that it can’t be perfect because perfection can’t happen here on earth.
Excellence is empowering. Perfection is rejecting.
I want to be an empowering wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. That’s why resisting perfection is so important.
There are no perfect moms, just women doing the best job they can do in the circumstances of their real life.
What about you? How have you settled the disparity between excellence and perfection in your heart?