precision v. perfection

“Live in your home so that you’re brilliant in the basics, so that you’re
intentional about your roles and responsibilities in the family. Think in terms
of precision not perfection. If you have your goals and you are precise in how
you go about them in your homes, youth will learn from you. They will learn that
you pray, study the scriptures together, have family home evening, make a
priority of mealtimes, and speak respectfully of your marriage partner. Then
from your example the rising generation will gain great hope.” President Julie S. Beck

My dad is a rocket scientist. I’ll always remember watching The Hunt for Red October with him as he pointed out all these teensy details to indicate which sub was being used, when it was a model…tiny, tiny things that I would never have dreamed of pretending to notice. This is the same guy who drove home one day while our house was being remodeled and noticed the slope of the roof was slightly off. The contractor remeasured and it was off by a few degrees. I have many memories about him in which the word precision would apply. He is very precise. He is also a perfectionist.

What is the difference between precision and perfection and how does that affect us as mothers?

I’ve been pondering this alot, because in my mind they are so interconnected…this is what I’ve teased out.

Precision is about HOW I do things. It means I need to understand clearly what God wants me to do, then do it. I need to know exactly what my children need and what it means to be a mother, wife and woman of God.

Perfection is about outcome. The end result, the product….although as mothers we wish we could control that, we need to leave it in God’s hands, because let’s be honest I can’t even control my children when I’m pregnant with them.

Do what is right let the consequence follow. There is a fabulous verse in the bagadvad gita “Thou hast power only to act not over the result thereof. Act thou therefore
without prospect of the result and without succcumbing to inaction”

When I fix my mind on the result-and frequently it’s a short sighted result like a clean floor)..sometimes my actions seem ridiculous. why bother? Let’s face it, my record for keeping a floor clean (while we are home-vacations DON’T count) is pitiful. In fact we’ve had records the other way..how soon after mommy mops does someone spill something on the floor…or better yet WHILE MOM IS MOPPING. Just the other day I was mopping the floor and someone spilled salsa on the floor.

Lesson number one . The goal is not a clean floor or a clean sink. it’s not. The goal is
Look at that picture. Happy children creating. Are you distracted by the boxes? How about the other mess? Looking beyond the mark? What’s the most important thing to focus on there? Does it help to have the full picture and know my baby was less than 2 weeks old and we were moving in 3 weeks? Still after perfection aren’t I? Worried about how everything looks.

The point of this post is NOT to convince you not to clean. I’ve learned something remarkeable in the last week. I had a sick baby, I didn’t sleep much. I mentally gave myself permission to not clean. I had this whole conversation with myself about how taking care of the baby was more important than fly lady and this blog. Have you ever had that conversation? –well maybe not about this particular blog, but have you ever talked yourself out of cleaning? I had wanted to keep my sink clean every day, but I knew there might come a day when that just wasn’t possible. (cue violins) There were three days last week when I wouldn’t have finished the dishes before I started this journey. But every day it was possible. The exception-not finishing a basic task. I had been making many many exceptions for myself. Too many. I had been letting myself get overwelmed, letting myself assume that perfection was the goal and that was obviously impossible so why bother? I had my priorities in order (which apprently meant computer time before dishes).

Doing your duty. It isn’t exactly popular, fun or frilly.

Yes the clothes will get dirty again. Yes there will always be another meal. Yes the floor might not even last ten minutes. But those are the rocks we are pushing up that hill (remember sisyphus). That’s not the end goal. What are we really building?

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2 Responses to precision v. perfection

  1. Gloria Hamson says:

    love the picture at the end – beautiful! and as for excuses – ah me – I am right now on the computer instead of our in the garden harvesting lettuce and strawberries….but I will go soon – right?

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