Letting Go of Ideals

The doorbell rings, and the mail carrier has dropped a package at my doorstep. So I sort through the mail (it’s grocery ad day!) and find something addressed to my neighbor. The mail carrier hasn’t left my curb yet, so I’m within her line of sight as I stick the envelope in my neighbor’s box. (We’re in a three-family unit, and my neighbor’s mailbox literally shares a porch with my mailbox. It takes three steps to do this.)

Me: Oops, the mailman put this in the wrong box. Oh well. (Puts envelope in other box.)

If I was the mail carrier: Why is she putting that envelope in the other box? Oh, man… Did I put it in the wrong box? I really should have double-checked those addresses. I though I double-checked those addresses. Looks like I messed up. Again. I hope my boss doesn’t find out. Sorry for annoying you with the wrong mail, Miss Resident. I’m surely the only mail carrier who has ever made that mistake. How many times I have I made that mistake before and not even realized it? I better double-check this next resident to be sure. Yeah, that’ll last for about two houses.

Isn’t it interesting how we can be so forgiving of others and yet so hypercritical of ourselves, finding fault in areas where we would never think to look in others?


In my days as a custom framer, we carried a variety of natural wood selections for framing. Natural wood isn’t “perfect,” it has knots, grains, and variations of density and color. Every now and then we would have a customer complain about a knot in one leg of the frame even if it is a small knot, or if the carving didn’t line up perfectly at the miter, or one part of the frame took the stain a little differently than the rest. Some would call it nit-picking. But it was a thing of beauty, how each piece, though similar to others, was unique. It’s “flaws” added to its beauty and made it more interesting.

Letting Go of Ideals

In the cliché glass-half-empty-or-half-full scenario, I’m the one saying, “Why don’t we just ask the waiter to top off everyone’s glass?” I’m an idealist. A chicken-in-every-pot, car-in-every-garage kind of idealist.

I’m a disappointed idealist.

A why isn’t my house as spotless as I see in magazines, and my homeschool curriculum as creative as I see on Pinterest? You know, like all of the creative people in the world combined to create (and assemble, and teach) my homeschool curriculum.

Why can’t I at least keep up with the dishes and or the laundry?

Punch! Jab! Kick! More blows to my self esteem; rocks piled up on the mountain of insecurity.

So my house is a mess. If I sit back and think about it, what’s the big deal?

Did I put in an honest effort today (I wasn’t completely lazy about it)?

Did my kids enjoy the day? Were they fed? Did they play? Did they learn a little more about the world in which they live?

Maybe that’s enough to make today a successful day.


Don’t get me wrong. I’m not jumping to the other extreme and saying “It’s okay to live in a pig pen, don’t even bother. Let the family fend for themselves while you play card games online.” I’m saying it’s about balance. It’s about asking “Is it worth risking a brain aneurism in order to reach the last spoon in the sink or the last sock in the hamper?” and acting accordingly.

You are a unique combination of strengths, weaknesses, and interests. You were put in your situation because God knows YOU! For the number of times I’ve said, “I guess that’s not exactly my strength,” I’m learning to say, “What is my strength?” And work on flourishing in that area. And once I find peace with who I am, I can learn to conquer or ignore who I am not.


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