Today’s Table Talk is by Diane Paddison. She has just published a terrific book called Work, Love, Pray to encourage women. She offers encouragement to us today through her wise words on perfection, an issue women deal with on a daily basis. Perfection is one of those roads to what looks like a destination, but leads to nothing but frustration and self doubt.
Thanks so much for sharing, Diane!
… and thanks for walking the road with me. (Let’s steer clear of Perfection … but if you’re in Dallas take the road to Logos bookstore in Snider Plaza this weekend to meet Diane. Details below.)
Nancy Alsgard had it all. She married her childhood sweetheart—a guy she had known since they were both in the fifth grade in her little country school in Michigan. Both enjoyed good jobs, and she was finding her stride balancing her work, her marriage, their two young children, and her faith. Then within a brief span of time one of her brothers was reported missing in action in Vietnam (to this day is still MIA), her mom became afflicted with multiple sclerosis, her dad left her mom for another woman, and her husband was killed in an auto accident.
Blessed with a strong faith in God and the belief that she could turn grief into opportunity, she realized she would have to earn more money than her nurse’s salary to keep a roof over her head and food on the table. She launched the first hospital-based oncology home-care program that became quite successful, moved from Michigan to Texas, fell in love, and got remarried. Once again, things were looking great for Nancy until her teenagers began acting out. Behavior problems. Drugs. Nothing that many parents haven’t experienced, but for Nancy, it felt like failure.
Initially, Nancy struggled with guilt over her kids’ problems but came to a place where she could forgive herself. “I wasn’t the best mom in the world. I wasn’t flawless. I made mistakes. But mistakes are a part of life. If you own them and don’t blame others, you’ll find a way to get through them and become a better person because of it.”
I wish I could tell you that Nancy’s story is an exception, but the truth is, I’ve heard variations of this story from dozens of women. The details may differ, but the theme is the same: “I tried hard to be the best at everything, but I made some huge mistakes along the way.” My sense of pride wishes I could tell you that my story doesn’t include any imperfections, but I have to be honest: I’ve made more than my share of mistakes as a follower of Jesus, a wife, mom, and employee.
For some reason, we women set pretty high standards for ourselves and then torture ourselves when we don’t measure up. According to a study conducted by researchers at Auburn University, women are more likely to have perfectionist tendencies than men. Part of it surely has to do with the fact that we not only want to prove that we can balance our work with our family responsibilities, but that we can do it well. None of us want to be average at work and slightly above average at home. We want to be the best at both. So when we slip up along the way—or experience a major setback—we bring out the F word: failure.
…Even though Nancy was not the perfect parent, her kids are all right.
“Women need to realize there will never be enough time to do everything,” she advises. “You can’t go off the rails just because you can’t do things exactly as you would like to. When you do that, you’re observing life, not experiencing it. You have to go through the pain of being human. If you don’t, you don’t develop character.”
Nancy’s life isn’t perfect. Neither is mine, and yours won’t be either. And that’s just fine because we have a perfect Savior who loves to meet us at our deepest need. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
Diane Paddison, author of Work, Love, Pray will be signing books this Saturday, Nov. 12 from 2-4 p.m., at Logos Bookstore in Snider Plaza, Dallas.
Diane wrote Work, Love, Pray to guide young professional Christian women to use their gifts to their full potential. Her story and 15 other women leaders are featured. Diane is former COO of Trammell Crow (now CB Richard Ellis) and Prologis, now Chief Strategy Officer at Cassidy Turley. She is a wife and mother of four (the youngest finishing high school this year). In 2009, Diane founded a not-for-profit to lead, support and connect professional Christian women, www.4wordwomen.org. Proceeds from Work, Love, Pray go to 4word.