Two years ago I started making random confessions to the world. Blogging is like that. It brings out all sorts of personal things you would normally only tell a best friend. Suddenly you are perfectly comfortable sharing things like the fact that you have pulled dirty socks out of the laundry for your son to wear to school. Disclaimer: I did smell them first, though, I promise. They weren’t that bad.
At the time you are typing the aforementioned sensitive information into your laptop (thinking of it as a sort of therapeutic exercise) it seems like you are just writing for yourself. No harm done. But then you look at the stats from the day and realize about thousands of people you don’t know and everyone googling “stinky feet” forever more now know the embarrassing truth about your laundry and child rearing failures. They know you are (gasp), REAL.
I have also revealed over the past few years that I suffer from a disease.
“Hi. My name is Melissa and I am recovering from magazine cover-itis.”
OK, so I made that disease name up but the symptoms were very real. Suffering from Magazine Cover-itis years ago meant I based my contentment in life by how “magazine cover worthy” my home was. And my home rarely met my expectations.
Decorating is something I love, there is nothing wrong with being passionate about how God has gifted us. Creativity is a blessing and I am grateful for it every day! But it became a disease for me because while decorating brought me happiness, it also stole some of the joy from my life. The magazine cover house in my mind was not always appropriate for me, and that led to discontentment and misplaced priorities.
My blogging friend Nester has a similar disease. Her made up disease name is much funnier than mine…she says she suffers from Decorating Perfectionist-itis Affliction Inflamation Disease Disorder Syndrome, DPAIDDS for short. Whatever you call it, we both are both happy to admit we have nearly recovered from our symptoms. We may never be cured of our inner cravings for creative perfection (that is how God wired us), but we are able to wholeheartedly embrace the imperfect lives we have.
Confession is not only good for the soul, it is good for other women. Your kids may never have worn dirty socks to school and you may have never desired to make your home look like the cover of a magazine, but all of us have imperfections we have struggled to hide or didn’t want to admit about ourselves.
Just knowing there are other women out there who can relate to the every day struggle of finding beauty amidst the chaos of life has been a big encouragement to me! I’m thrilled that God has allowed me to be online to share my own love for creating a beautiful home and more importantly, share my heart for embracing a beautiful life that is rarely magazine cover perfect.
If my everyday life was on the cover of a magazine, it would have to be called Authentic (i.e. messy) Living. I’d be happy with that!
Overcoming Magazine Cover-itis, DPAIDDS or any form of perfectionism requires refocusing attention to the true beauty of what is often hiding behind the camera — real life in all its messy yet lovely imperfection. Admitting our struggles is often the first step towards our recovery.
What imperfections do you struggle with? It is good to be real with each other!Leave a Comment
Oh Melissa, you are so right! If we are not genuine, authentic with ourselves, we are incapable of being so with others, and mostly with our Creator.
God alone determines our worth, not on our skills or our feelings of worth. Nor on anyone else’s judgements of us.
God purposely made us with imperfections so that we recognize our need for Him. That need for relationship/community requires humility (via confessions), and the willingness to serve others.
I know what keeps me humble…my humanity, my imperfections. Knowing I am incapable of doing anything good, or being of any worth to anyone, apart from God.
Best place for confession: Laid out in my bare genuine self, warts and all, before my Savior and Lord.
It is His love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, and righteousness that is taking us from our humble starts to the end of the race set before us.
Because of Christ’s love for us, he looks beyond our faults and sees our need.
Asking us to do the same with one another.
Hey, we can compare warts some time!
Love ya Sis(in Him);)
Am an ex-perfectionist – the birth of my son saved me.. 😉
Only the occasional fall-back, but otherwise a happy, disorganized, slightly chaotic mother of two wonderful kids who will grow up knowing that life should not be about creating ‘a perfect house’ but to create ‘a happy house’.
Growing older has encompassed letting go of so many things, including my desire for perfection. It got pretty bad at one point in my life. Then I realized that I was attempting to control things within my reach as a substitute for the things I had absolutely no control over. Now, I periodically laugh out loud
Kathleen Grace says
I too am constantly trying to “perfect” my home. I love decorating mags, and the decorating aspect sucked me into blogging in a big way. All those wonderful ideas! It can lead to a “keeping up with the Joneses” attitude. I need beadboard, some new thrifted furniture and a fresh color scheme:>) It can get to the point where I feel pulled in a million directions. Who has time for vignettes with work, laundry, cooking and cleaning? Add an etsy shop and I’m lucky to get the cleaning done! I remind myself there is so much more to life than decorating. I want my home to be pretty and comfortable and when we have people over, it is clear that they think it is both of those things. It is my own disatifaction that keeps me from enjoying it.
…the older i become…and i am pretty sure i am older than most of you reading…the more i realize how we try to perfect ourselves in outward ways…whether it is our own appearance or the appearance of our homes…the appearance of our children…it is all impossible…we are made beautiful only through the reflected glory of the Lord…yes indeed…we can find joyful moments in using the gifts God has gracously given to us…yet we only find true peace with ourselves and our homes and family when we can relax and enjoy the precious people who are in our earthly enviornments…perhpas we are vainly trying to create that home that has already been prepared for us…in any event…dirty socks are nothing…i had boys…and i can remember turning underware inside out and pretending they were a fresh pair!!
Perfection is a self-deception that keeps you from being happy. Like procrastination.
“dirty socks are nothing…i had boys…and i can remember turning underware inside out and pretending they were a fresh pair!!”
thanks for the laugh laney
Always a tendency to perfectionism. I almost didn’t join the Doors of Welcome party because I knew there would be beautiful and perfect porches and entries while mine is sadly in need of much work (hopefully next spring/summer if I can figure out what to do with this horrendous glass and rod iron awning thing a ma jig!). Then I thought maybe if I was honest about what my place looks like- others might feel more inclined to join in in sharing their not so perfect homes and lives. I am so thankful for the wonderful, old, home that God has provided for us as missionaries even with it’s imperfections. 4 guests rooms for families and friends to stay a night or 3 months, as 1 family did because of their situation. I work constantly on the balance of wanting a comfortable, beautiful environment for our guests to enjoy and asking the Father to make me ok with the “it’s ok that were in the middle of electical work and the majority of the house is not in order” I want it all to be perfect and we know that cannot be- I do lot’s of repenting!!
I am so glad you wrote this. It is such a stress we put on ourselves to appear together, either in public or at home. And it is good to know that we are loved by God and by others when we are real too.
Thank you Melissa! I have been struggling with a content heart in my surroundings, wishing everything were “perfect” in my small surroundings.
This word was an encouragement to me. Love your site!
Melissa, I’ve always loved that you are so real. You love and appreciate lovely things but also embrace the reality of life. I loved this: “Just knowing there are other women out there who can relate to the every day struggle of finding beauty amidst the chaos of life has been a big encouragement to me!” That encourages me and I thank you for that.
Blessings and love,
Being real is messy at times … and always comforting. And you know, humanity is really like a potluck: Each of us brings something slightly different to the table. Your specialty isn’t mine and vice versa; your strength may be my weakness … but if we work together, we complement one another (and end up with such a yummy variety)! By pretending we have no shortcomings not only hurts us, it hurts others because we lose out on a chance to share, encourage, uplift, and help each other.
I admit I m messy a lot of the time. But its either care for my granddaughter and parents…and me to or a clean perfect house.
I prefer chaos right now and caring for others though is so frustrating at times lately. Things I guess don’t give nothing back..people do. I have one really big thing and I love my house but it doesn’t come first and it took me to be older to set it aside and not worry so much about it. I don’t want others coming in to feel like they can’t enjoy because its to perfect.
The other thing I guess to is that getting older really shows us that other things are important and yes I to can let out a good laugh at myself now. Letting go of perfection and knowing we all have flaws is a good thing.
Also knowing your good at one thing and the next guy might not be is okay to.That’s when we grow, help and encourage each other to be who we really are.
Thank you so much for posting that picture!!
My strenghts are not the “typical” woman ones..I’m messy, and not the best decorator. But if you need someone to help your little one out with math or science, call on me! (I’m an engineer) Not having good “woman” skills always makes me feel out of place, and often I don’t feel comfortable inviting others over to my home…its gotten to the point that I don’t have my “martha stewartish” mother in law over at all! (which I need to get over!)
Thanks for the encouragement
Oh, I can totally relate! Over the past couple of months, God has really been teaching me about slowing down, and not letting my desire for perfection take over my life! With homeschooled three littles in the house, it’s just not going to happen and I need to learn to find contentment in the imperfections. One of the biggest steps I took was to blog about a real life day for us, which I did here. http://www.ajaabney.com/blog/2009/10/homeschool-mental-health-day No more illusions about having the perfect anything! Our mess is a sign that we have *lived*, that there is creativity and love in our house. 🙂
Gayle at Mountain Moma says
I have made a name for my disorder as well. Obsessive Compulsive Decorating Disorder. OCDD, causes me to decorate in my head constantly! Would that be considered “intrusive thoughts”? When things get stressful in my life, I start re-arranging furniture. It does make me feel better though! Oh well…through the years,we have had a lovely home wherever we lived and my children have embraced that as well, and always have their own home decorated. They seem to see it as a n essential in life, though none of them are as obsessed as I am!
I have a happy and similar memory to yours and the photo is in my son’s album. He was getting dressed for his high school senior prom and realized he had no clean dark socks. I snapped a picture of him with his laundry basked emptied on the living room floor with him slipping on the dirty black socks. So fun and not eternally important at all. How did I get over the magazine disease? I canceled all my subscriptions. It was one way I could fight discontent and it really did help.
I am on the dark side of trying to keep my surroundings perfect and cheerful. I gave up because I did it for the family and the boys, now that they are gone and my retired husband doesn’t leave the TV room no one seemed to notice and said they did care!!! So I crawled into a hole, all the decorations or even new towels are packed away and I realize my surroundings are adding to my depression I’ve let the dark side of the world take hold. Dirty soxs and mismatched things bring a smile to my face but I need prayers to lift me up. Certain things have affected our family this year death, divorce and a suicide illness and I let it take hold. I’m trying to pray very very hard each day to lift me up I will never want perfect just happy and more normal. I even just packed all the magazines in a box and never read them and ended all subscriptions. Am I the only one?
If you need a Scriptural reference to help you understand, gain some perspective and overcome ‘magazine-coveritis’, read and think about what was more important – the house or the guest… Luke 10:38-42.
Some of the best looking places that I’ve been to immediately turn sterile when the home owner lets it become the center of their pride. While some of the less impressionable places I’ve been to disappear from my mind because they decided to focus their attention to the guest. It made me want to come back their place over and over again.
“We are made beautiful only through the reflected glory of the lord
Excellent!! I’ll be linking this to my blog later in the week. Transparency brings a little more exposure than we may like, but it can really help others and be very freeing, for us and them.
HA!!!! I recently diagnosed myself with the disease control-freakish-itis…..I LIKE control. Oddly enough it is also the same thing that gives me anxiety because I have the mentality that if I don’t do it no one else will. Then I get mad if no one steps up and….it is just an ugly vicious cycle. While God has wired me as a detail oriented individual who is good at taking care of important issues…he does not want me to take it all upon myself and micro-manage every individual who does not do it my way.
My husband has threatened to have me committed 😉
This is me to a T. For some reason I always imagine that someone is going to come in to my house and see the kitchen that needs to be swept or the crayons scattered across the floor, so I have to be prepared just. in. case!
And I also have a problem with staying still, so I always have to be doing something. The problem is that sometimes this stresses me out, which in turn stresses everyone else in the family out. And sometimes I am so busy picking up or straightening something or putting things away, that I miss those moments when the kids are being sweet to each other or my husband just wants to sit down and watch TV together for some “Mom and Dad” time.
I am working on this. 🙂
Kristen - Moms Sharpening Moms says
Thank you so much for your funny, beautiful and very real thoughts on this. I, too, have certainly struggled with perfectionism, and in more ways than one. I think it’s insecurity at the root of it…afraid people won’t accept me if they see my faults! While I’ve overcome this in many ways (have 3 children helped me be able to let loose quite a bit!), I am still a work in progress. I praise God for His character that loves and never gives up on us messy children!
Ann Voskamp@Holy Experience says
Melissa, everything you write shimmers with Jesus. Again, words here, beautiful!
My imperfections? Where to begin? The whole enchilada, I’m afraid…
I’m just so grateful that Jesus takes me anyways, tenderly washes away all my grime with grace.
(And you should launch a magazine, a book called that: Authentic Living. Sign me up! 🙂
Thank you, Melissa…
“Messy Living” – I would TOTALLY buy that! Sign me up for a subscription. Wait, I already have it – ain’t that what (In) Courage is all about? Happy sigh, yea, that’s it. I’m already subscribed to “Messy Living” and I love it!
Molly Piper says
I get really annoyed when I see those more than perfect “homes” in magazines, ala Pottery Barn. There’s *never* any shoes OR paper. Obviously they don’t get mail.
It eventually leads me to the conclusion, after fighting the perfectionist war in my heart for a couple hours, that those aren’t homes at all. And I want a *home*. I’m willing to sacrifice the perfection for the pleasure real people bring to a space.
deb @talk at the table says
This suddenly brought back a memory. When I “only” had 3 little ones I made a Nativity scene from gingerbread.. I’m sure it was from one of the old Martha Stewart magazines. It was one of many frenzied and frugal decorating attempts. As children typically do , they brought me back to reality, trying to fit Barbie and some transformers into the stable and the whole thing looked like an earthquake had happened. I left it as is right on the hall table for everyone to see. I’ve tried to remember that lesson always.
Thanks for a great post Melissa. You are so honest and inspiring.
Holley Gerth says
Melissa, thank you for giving us grace, freedom, room to be…that is more beautiful than any magazine cover. I love your heart–all its authenticity, courage, and loveliness. Thanks for sharing it with us here.
Fiona@ A little bit of honesty says
I love your honesty – I love your perspective! One of my many imperfections – caring too much about how I come across to others….
love it love it love it!
Finally, a magazine for me!
This is probably the only things I haven’t struggled much with! Only by God’s grace and sufficient other problems! But as I’ve started reading your and the Nester’s blogs, I’ve been more interested and able to start decorating in my home so I will have to be careful I don’t go too far the other way! Thanks for your Authentic Living – sounds like a magazine I would subscribe to!
Charlotte Spears says
Hi Melissa. I am just going to add a BIG “Thank You, I needed that” to all of these wonderful comments. God bless you, honey.
Tina Matteson says
I would most definitely subcribe to that magazine! It sounds WONDERFUL.
Hank Squier says
Well written article, well researched and useful for me in the future.I am so happy you took the time and effort to make this. Best of luck