Homemaking is a truly honorable endeavor, but one that’s easy to lose the vision for as we get lost in the details and distractions of a busy life. Homes are the building block of society, so tending them is much more than the physical upkeep. Our work as mothers is spiritual even in the midst of the mundane chores.
To help us keep sight of this reality, Bess Hawthorne came on the Simplified Organization podcast to chat about perfectionism and hospitality.
Bess is a devoted wife, a nurturing mother of five mostly-grown children, and a doting grandmother of three. She teaches second grade at Logos School in Moscow, Idaho and also hosts the fun and inspiring podcast, Come Over for Dinner – all about making hospitality doable and delightful. From sharing favorite recipes to discussing must-have kitchen items, her podcast serves as a trove of inspiration and guidance.
Find Bess online –
Battling the perfectionism trap
However, hospitality and managing a home can sometimes be daunting. Bess knows perfectionism is a common hurdle many women face. Perfectionism says that if something can’t be executed flawlessly, it shouldn’t be undertaken at all, so it stifles any forward momentum we might make.
Bess is no stranger to the temptation towards perfectionism. She admits that her natural inclination is to want things to be ‘just so’. She’s a planner by nature. Through personal experience, she shares insights on how to overcome this hindrance in the first part of our conversation:
You are a character in God’s story
One of the most profound pieces of advice Bess offers is to view oneself as a character in God’s story. Citing N.D. Wilson’s book Death By Living, she encourages individuals to see themselves as part of a larger narrative.
This perspective can be transformative. In every situation, how one reacts reveals your character. Will you be seen as fussy and anxious, or as kind, joyful, and patient? Bess points out that it is important to realize that not only are you a main character in your own story, but you are also a side character in others’ stories.
Love is hospitable, not perfectionist
Perfectionism and love do not go together, which means our perfectionism has to go. Love is patient and kind, not keeping a record of wrongs, which is quite the opposite of perfectionism.
When we demand perfection from ourselves or others, we are asking for the impossible. This mindset is antithetical to the fruits of the spirit. God is not looking for instant perfection in us, but is working to perfect us over the course of our whole lives. We can be patient with others because God is so patient with us.
True perfection in the Christian context is not about having a flawless appearance or environment. It’s about embodying the fruits of the spirit such as love, patience, kindness, and forgiveness. God is more concerned about the condition of our hearts and our relationships with others than our ability to meet worldly standards of organization or beauty.
Anchor your mindset in Christ
As life throws curveballs, perfectionism often acts as an anchor preventing us from sailing smoothly. So how can we break free from this and maintain a Christ-focused attitude?
Philippians 1:6 gives a striking answer: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
This verse assures us that God is continually working within us, and He expects us to cultivate the fruits of the spirit such as love, patience, kindness, and forgiveness.
Perfection, in God’s terms, is not an impeccably clean house or flawlessly executed plans. It’s about embodying love and kindness in our everyday lives. This leads us to reflect on how Christ would want us to define perfection. It’s crucial not to set sky-high expectations for ourselves and others that can hardly be met.
Love should be the lens through which we see and forgive not only others’ mistakes but also our own.
A story from Bess:
In one enlightening incident, I was recently at my sister’s house where we had invited a family for dinner. The atmosphere was lively with chatter and laughter. But, just before dinner, one of the little girls came down the stairs, vomiting.
What followed was chaos. At that moment, I felt God nudging me to observe my reaction. Would I fret about my perfect evening being ruined or would I embrace this as an opportunity to showcase love and patience?
This story resonates with a saying we have in my family – “It’s not all about you”. We must remember that God puts situations in our lives not to break us but to build us.
Through these circumstances, He molds us into better versions of ourselves, reminding us to be generous with our love and attention.
Hospitality over perfection
Hospitality is a term often associated with inviting others to our homes. But what about extending that same hospitality to our own families? Creating a nurturing environment where laughter, love, and warmth are abundant is much more significant than a spotlessly clean floor or meticulously arranged living room.
Our children will treasure the memories of togetherness, meals shared, and laughter much more than an impeccable home. They should remember a home where love was the cornerstone, not anxiety and unrealistic demands.
Maintaining a Christ-focused mindset is a conscious effort. In moments of anxiety or when things don’t go as planned, remember to seek God’s grace. He cares about even the smallest aspects of our lives. Pray without ceasing and know that you are a character in God’s grand story.
In conclusion, let us strive to focus on what really matters. Rather than chasing perfection, let us chase a heart filled with love, kindness, and grace. Laugh at life’s hiccups and embrace the imperfections. Through this, we can truly cultivate a Christ-centered attitude.