“I’m going now,” said my administrative assistant. “Thanks for everything.”
“I wish you the best in your new career,” I said. “And by the way, Happy Thanksgiving.”
As she walked toward the door, she handed me an envelope. When back in my office, I opened it. Inside her bon voyage card she had hand-written this message:“Joan, I hope someday you can stop and smell the roses.”
Embarrassed, I glanced over my shoulder to make sure no one was reading the note. It reminded me that my zealous attempts to hide my overload-induced exhaustion were unsuccessful. I started to fume, but chuckled instead. Bonnie correctly assessed my unrealistic mindset and suggested that I slow down, stop trying so hard to make it all just right and start enjoying life.
Several years have passed since the day I read that stop-and-sniff-the-roses message, and I’ve made some positive intentional adjustments in my attitudes, beliefs, lifework and personal roles. I’ve learned to relax and celebrate life—imperfect though it may be (well, at least much of the time).
Yet recently I’ve noticed that I’m being sucked back into the trying-too-hard-to-make-it-just-right syndrome. I’m bombarded with messages that imply I’m still not doing life quite right. Books, magazines, TV shows, commercials, Internet pop-ups, social networking, text marketing, stores, blogs, doctors, schools, fitness centers, friends, family and churches all have ideas (and heavy suggestions) about what I’m doing wrong and how I need to correct it.
You and I live in an unreasonably demanding age of over-choice, over-information, over-tech, overexposure, over-responsibility and over-achievement. AND here come the holidays with all the fresh expectations.
It’s a relief once we realize that God doesn’t expect us to be, do or make it all just right, all the time, in order to be valuable and grateful friends, mothers, colleagues or Christians. It’s okay with Him if we say “no” at times, relax and smile in the midst of our imperfect reality. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful this Thanksgiving season.
How can that truth make your Turkey Day a little more enjoyable this year?
Adapted from The Relief of Imperfection: For Women Who Try Too Hard to Make It Just Right.